Ironman Australia 2016, Port Macquarie, NSW
A week that was anything but weak...
They came from from far and wide to compete in one of the most gruelling competitions on the planet. Not just in tens or hundreds, but thousands. The city of Port Macquarie, came alive with lycra clad bodies running, cycling and swimming along all parts of its nature corridor foreshore.
In town, a large big top tent, became the centre of a mini village, where a hive of volunteers, worked enthusiastically to help competitors, visitors and the just plain curious to find their way around. Cycle racks were dressed with millions of dollars of machines, tables awaited a banquets beneath the big top, thousands of registration packs adorned racks, railings, fences, buntings all mapped out tracks, courses and paths to follow. In short, a monumental logistics exercise, managed by an army of ever capable volunteers.
Then came race day. Long before dawn the streets were busy. Spectators vying for key positions, others setting up family camps with picnics and barbeques. Cameras were everywhere. And so too, a mass of bodies going through various warm up exercises ahead of their own challenges.
Nature, made her own special entrance with a sunrise, rich with autumnal colours. Beneath the glow of the early sun, the river was alive, with Surf Lifesavers paddling their way to upstream stations, to monitor the progress of the swimmers.
Then it all began. Lead by the professionals, starting their two mile (3.8km) swim. The first back would be exiting the water for the 100 mile (180km) cycle leg , just as the main pack started their swim.
The day continued, hundreds of competitors streaming by. Some covering the full distance others doing the half course and some in teams. The pouring rain that started mid morning, didn't dampen the spirits, though it did cause some spills. Which ever way it is completed, it is a brutal test of endurance. Aboard a Marshall's motorcycle, we followed the leaders for a section of the cycle course at around 160km mark. Unlike cycle races, no slip streaming is allowed. Despite this, over the 9km section they travelled with us, they averaged 60km/h! And they still had a marathon to run!
Many came back, blistered, cramping and exhausted. All came back proud. Everyone of them was an inspiration. Congratulations to all the Iron men and women in the Ironman Australia 2016, Port Macquarie New South Wales.
Looking forward to next year!
© Robert Oates | BALLANTYNE Photography
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