OK, I got to talk on the phone with the Hawaii champion from Australia. Well, me and 1500 other folks! At the carbo dinner last night, they got him on the phone from Sidney and he spoke to the audience. The next best thing to being there I suppose and those Aussies are quite proud of their triathlon star! If you do not know who he is, google him. He is right up there with the greatness of the sport!
The day started with my getting my "stuff" ready for the race. A little concerning we did not receive special needs bags. Not sure why-we are off to the race meeting this AM so will find out then I suppose. We took a cab into town yesterday to Woolworths (Woolies). I was standing outside waiting for H and who should I see? My friend Richard, whom I met on Facebook from Australia-he has been filling us in with details of the race since day one. I recognized him from his picture and said "Richard?" I think I scared him but once he knew who I was, we just laughed at such a coinicidence..He has really been a wealth of knowledge about the race and is a very positive person so was great to meet him. Off to the bike store where they have no idea how we should ship our bikes home after the race either, something we knew we would have to figure out once we got here..we will deal with that after the race I guess.
The "Parade of Nations" took place starting in the park downtown. It looked like only a few folks were going to be in it then all of a sudden there were about 300 athletes tha participated, representing 46 countries. We lined up behind the US flag, carried by a guy named Dave, from Milwaukee-I thought "oh how nice-he traveled so far" Well, I found out later, when he spoke to the crowd of 1500, that this was Dave Orlowski, the guy who finished 3rd in the 1st ever Ironman in Hawaii in 1978! Seriously? Well if I would have known that I would have at least gotten my picture with him or something! Tears were welling up in my eyes as we "marched" down Main Street in Busselton to Ironman Village. I had to pinch myself. Am I really here doing this? There were folks lined up on the street cheering for us! It was magical..We arrived at the "Event Marquee", where the "drum band" continued to play until we were let into the big tent for dinner. The place was huge! It was decorated with flags everywhere. The food was amazing. All different types of pasta, salad, fruit, rolls, dessert-it was all there. Although we don't drink, we could have even had beer if we wanted it (I guess the Aussies like their pre race beer). There was entertainement-not just some local group they got to come play, but a real singing act that sang and danced a bunch of internationally themed songs. It was good!
Then came the emcees, who were dressed in some kind of dwarf type costumes. I think it means something here but it looked pretty ridiculous to us! They introduced each of the 46 countried represented here and played their national anthem in part-there were some countries that had only one person and they still did that! The US has 82 participants, topped only by Singapore who had 100 athletes here! We stood and cheered when they called us and played our NA. Of course Australia had the most athletes and it was a booming sound when it came to announcing the Aussies! Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
They got Craig on the phone sometime during the evening..that was cool. He told ME (and a few hundred others) good luck and have fun! We saw a 20 minute video from last year's race and those folks..well I am not sure they were having fun but it will be an experience. I already feel like I have died and gone to heaven here and am very blessed to be here.
Off we go to the athlete's meeting this AM and to bike check-in and try to correct our State. If not you can hear from Albuquerque, Alaska, you are an Ironman! Hopefully we fix this today..