This past Sunday I volunteered as a Paramedic for the medical team at the Ironman Calgary race. I did this because I really enjoy triathlon, and thought it would be really fun to witness the event - and I was right! I had a blast!
My job was to ride the bike portion on my motorbike and respond to any emergencies that may take place. (Luckily I did not have to respond to any!). Here's my Volunteer take on the course:
That morning was cold - 8 degrees on the highway as I rode into Cochrane, and then onto the Cottage Club where the race was set to start. It was really neat to see all the athletes preparing, and you could feel the excitement and apprehension in the air. I thought the water would be freezing judging by the outside temperature, but a friend that raced said the water was a "warm" mountain temp of about 17 degrees. After my struggle swimming the 750 meters in my sprint race, I have nothing but respect for the athletes that morning that swam 1.9km!
Once out of the water, the transition was... interesting. The layout put the transition over a rather steep hill. up the road. This meant that the pros, who's bikes were at the very end (closest to the exit), had to exit the water and run directly uphill to reach their bikes. Rasmus Henning was first out of the water, and first off on his bike. I'm currently reading his book and it was awesome to see him in action and follow him on the course.
After the majority of the pros got off on their bikes, I hopped on my bike and peddled (just kidding) after them on my motorbike. The bike portion of this race is beautiful, travelling back into the foothills, down into Cochrane, through and across Springbank and into Calgary, ending at the reservoir. I've read online that Triathlete magazine placed the Calgary Half Ironman in it's list of the Top Ten most scenic triathlons, and now I can see why. It was great to get to ride through the foothills, but to also be doing it along with the pros was a triathlon nerd's dream.
At one point I pulled over (had to stretch the legs - like I should be whining after all that the athletes were going through!) and got to cheer on the athletes as they rode by. I was then stationed at the corner of 69st and Hwy 8 and who passed me but Sister Madonna Buder, The Iron Nun herself! Also, looking fantastic on the bike with a huge smile on her face was Deb (check out her race report at debtris.blogspot.ca).
Unfortunately I missed the run portion, around the Glenmore Reservoir. I heard the course was beautiful as well, but hilly. I spent some time at the finish line watching people cross, and was amazed at what they had accomplished. I cannot wait until I too can finish the Ironman 70.3 Calgary.