When your presence matters most

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There are times in everyone’s life when your presence alone makes great things a reality, this is one of mine…

This past weekend I competed in the inaugural Ironman Racine 70.3. It is not a race to be taken lightly…it is after all half of an Ironman, which is largely considered the most challenging single day endurance event on the planet. That said, going in to the race I knew I had not fully trained and that it may prove to be a very difficult day. Long story short, while it wasn’t my best race, it went way better than expected and was an enjoyable experience.

A good bike time, though the hills definitely take their toll on your legs and your mind

Official 70.3 Ironman races are all qualifiers for the 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, FL each fall. Each race is given a percentage of the total slots available and each age group within is allotted spots based on the relative size of the group compared to the other age groups. After the race everyone who is in a position to receive a spot has to claim it or lose it. Any unclaimed spots are then rolled down the finisher list in that age group until they are all gone. The key to this story is, in order to claim the spot you must be there and be ready to pay for the race or they move on. It’s kinda confusing, just know that I, Jeremy, firmly believed, and by all known logic could confirm, that I had approximately zero chance of ever getting a slot…and here’s where the story gets interesting.

Mostly with the encouragement of Tiffany, we decided to hang out and watch the awards ceremony followed by the roll-down ceremony. When they got to my age group a couple of the available spots were taken and then they started going down the list…nobody was taking the remaining spots.

starting out on the 2nd of 2 laps...

They then had to move on to other age groups and mentioned that they would return to my age group at the end. People gradually started leaving, though we waited until the end, again at the request of Tiffany (I had given up hope of getting a spot since I was so far down on the list) until they finally started going through the remaining spots. Then I heard the words “anybody from the male 30-34 age group come on up”…and as I walked up towards the stage it became apparent that I was the only one there! he asked if I wanted the slot to which my reply was YES. I had just qualified for a race where the best 2000 or so triathletes in the world will be. It wasn’t a lottery spot, I didn’t pay extra or get a spot through a charity…I actually got a real qualifying spot! We had heard from friends and others we met at races that the roll-down process is both about the competition and simply being there to claim a slot, but I never thought that I would be the recipient of such an honor just because I was there.

So this November 13, 2010, I will toe the line with some of the best triathletes on the planet and compete in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. I am honored, humbled and a little scared at the idea of racing with such an elite group of people.  Still there is that part of me that has a new sense of resolve to train hard and give it my best go.

As a side note to the story, I have some family in the Clearwater area and there were already plans to be there that same weekend to celebrate the birthday of my Grandpa Dixon. Initially, Tiff and I were excited to be in town for the event and see all the great athletes compete, so it’ll be that much more fun to actually compete in the race and be there to celebrate my grandpa’s birthday!

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