Around midnight, I headed to the finish line to watch the last finishers. You have 17 hours to complete the Ironman, with cutoffs all throughout the day. Watching people finish that had been out on the course for nearly 3/4 of a day was pretty inspirational. Most didn’t look like your traditional endurance athlete. Some were overweight, some were old (78 years old!), one lady had a prosthetic leg, and one gentleman completed the entire marathon course in full firefighter bunker gear.
The atmosphere at the finish line is contagious. They are blasting music, people are dancing, and Mike Reilly is emceeing the entire event welcoming every finisher with, ‘[Insert Name Here] YOU — ARE — AN IRONMAN!!’
Lindsey Corbin, the Women’s pro champion, was even out there passing out finisher medals.
After the last finisher came in, I grabbed my blanket and pillow and set up camp in line by the registration tent. I was the 7th person in line and chat-chitted with the other volunteers / line sitters. A couple of us went scavenging around the finishers’ area, grabbing extra pizza, soda, and space blankets for the night that lay ahead. I assumed sleeping outside in the warm Arizona nights watching the stars overhead would be very relaxing. I was wrong. The temperature dropped to 50 degrees as I attempted to wrap my lanky frame into my blanket. Registration wasn’t supposed to open until 8 a.m., but they opened at 6:30 because the line was huge, probably 1500 people long, wrapping around the park.
The whole process took less than 10 minutes. They took down my name, e-mail address, date of birth, phone number and billing address. Make sure to bring a photo ID, credit or debit card, and volunteer shirt or wristband. My credit card got charged on-site (appx. $700) and I had to confirm my registration later that week. There were two lines for registration, the priority line for volunteers, and another line for non-priority, non-volunteers, non-standinthesunforfivehourspickinguptrash people. The non-priority line had to wait for all 1500 people in the priority line to register before they could register. If there are open slots after the on-site registration, then it opens up to the online registration. I know all the effort to fly down, volunteer, and sign up in person was worth it as online registration sold out in 40 seconds.
So I guess I’ve put my money where my mouth is, now I just need to put in the hundreds of hours of training necessary to accomplish my goal.