For those that are even remotely interested in getting a slot in this year’s Inaugural Ironman 70.3 World Championship Race in Clearwater Beach, Florida, pay attention.
Prior to the Eagleman 70.3 in Maryland, I had given zero thought or consideration to the World Championship Race (i.e. Mini Kona) this November. Like most average competitors, I just wanted to survive the race with dignity and pride. Having read over the race materials, I know that they had slots available for both the Kona Full Ironman and the 70.3 Race in Florida, as well as other Ironman races. Those were the pages that I typically skipped over when browsing through my race materials. Quite frankly, I didn’t (and still don’t) really know how the system works.
I have however learned three things since June 11, 2006:
1.) If your friends encourage you to watch the awards ceremony and drink a beer with them after the race, do it.
2.) You don’t have to be #1 or #2 in your age group to be awarded these coveted positions. In many cases, you just have to be present, willing and have $250 in your checking account.
3.) Sticking around late and being patient is often the key.
You see where I’m going with this.
Each age group had a certain number of 70.3 slots and that number was based on the amount of participants within the age group. For Women 30-34, they had 7 slots. For men 45-49, there were like 13 slots. Crazy, I know. Ideally, those slots would go to the Top 7 (or 13 or whatever) athletes within that age group. Of course they would. Those are the athletes that deserve it. However, as you can imagine, a couple of things happen. Lots of people aren’t really “in the know” about this event yet and they don’t stick around for the awards ceremony. Some of those athletes aren’t interested in going. Some of them are training for other races. Some of them don’t want to spend the money on travel, lodging, etc. Some of them just don’t care.
Shawn and I kinda fell in the “I’ll never get a slot because I’m not fast enough so why bother” category. If it weren’t for our friends Tracy and Bob, we wouldn’t have hung out to watch the Awards anyways. However, they started talking about these available slots and how much they wanted to get one. Hell, they’d already booked their hotel in Clearwater Beach! They invited us to drink some beers and hang out just to see what would happen. Ummm…okay.
Well, even though the Eagleman Race was INCREDIBLY organized and wonderfully executed by all race staff beyond all expectation, the awards ceremony was not. I direct a race and know how incredibly difficult and hectic it is on race day. The Race Director who was handing out the slots quickly in order to keep things moving, wasn’t corresponding well with the folks who were at tables keeping track of slot counts and certificate distribution. For a while, it was slightly chaotic. Most age groups were going down to the middle of the pack to get slots filled. Some carried over to other age groups. There were even a couple of instances of, “Is there anyone here in this age group that would like a slot?” For a while, it looked like we were all in like flynn! Tracy and Bob definitely got in and it looked positive for Shawn. They were ecstatic! At the time, all of my age group slots were accounted for so I was just hanging out with my peeps when a race staff person came out to the line and said that it looks like we have 2 leftover Female 30-34 slots so if you wait in line and hang out, they might be yours.
To make a convoluted and confusing story very short, we waited and waited. Race staff was getting frustrated because numbers weren’t matching up with different age groups. People were arguing over times and getting slightly perturbed over the disorganization. We just quietly sat in line and bided our time for over two hours—literally. A race official confirmed that there were two open Female slots. He later retracted that and said he made a mistake. They were Male slots. (even though they repeatedly said they were Female slots). Technically, only males could take a male slot. The whole time I’m thinking, “Do I really care about this? I’m freaking exhausted and sore from this race I just put myself through. The thought of doing another is a little overwhelming at the moment.” The other part of me continued to grow more and more excited as the afternoon wore on. “This is the FIRST EVER 70.3 (Half-Ironman) World Championship Race. While it’s new and relatively unheard of now, this thing will catch on and as soon as people figure it out, it definitely won’t be easy to get into! Essentially, this may be my only chance to compete in a race of this stature.”
It literally came down to two people left with one available slot. Me and my boyfriend Shawn. We were the last two people standing. There was still confusion as to whether or not it was a Male or Female slot. Everyone else who was interested in going had walked away happy. We were making jokes about the odds of this happening and it did. I offered to give it to another 30-34 woman so that it wouldn’t come down to the two of us.
To this moment, I’m not really sure why Shawn insisted that I take it. I was more than happy to be his cheerleader. Perhaps it’s because he’s that unselfish. Perhaps he doesn’t really care about racing this event. Perhaps he thought it was more important to me than it is to him. Perhaps because I beat him by over an hour!! 🙂 (I had to honey) In any event, I walked away with the final Certificate Slot for the Inaugural Ironman 70.3 World Championship Race.
The Moral of the Story: Even Middle-of-the-Pack Racers can be Champions.
The Other Moral of the Story: Fairy tales can come true. I learned that I have a real-life Prince Charming.
Good Luck to those who are racing and interested in getting slots in Kona or Florida. It can be done!