Endurance is the crowning quality,
And patience all the passion of great hearts. James Russell Lowell
I’ve commented here already that we have quite the view from our balcony here. We’ve seen dinner set-ups for a thousand, luaus, fire dancers and today a full CBS triathlon television production come and go in a matter of hours right beneath us.I go in to take a shower and when I come out there’s a whole new stage set; it’s like Hollywood down there.
Today was all about the race. I’m going to really clog up the works here with as many photos as I can get on- click to enlarge them.
It began on the beach with a blessing that the athletes all take very seriously. The same Hawaiian Priestess has been doing it each year and it’s actually pretty spiritually powerful. Then the 550 athletes are off on the swim portion. When they finish with that they transition to their bikes in a fenced off staging area. It’s that one series of photos of # 404 that made me think: "Gone in 60 seconds."
They head all the way up Haleakala and down and then run the half marathon portion.
Some of these racers are pros and are sponsored; more train, travel and race around the world to qualify for this final race under their own steam. They range in age from 19 to 73. At the finish line some come in strong and some collapse and get taken to the IV tent. All of them get lei-ed by the mostly naked welcome wagon girl.
After the race and lunch we came back up here to relax (it’s hard work watching all this activity) and watch baseball. I fell asleep and when I woke up a bit ago- you guessed it- set change! The finish line, the runway, the sponsor tents, the medical tent- all gone. Here’s what woke me up: The race announcer and two lone camera men were back down there, standing in the middle of the dining tables, welcoming in the final runner. Bobby McMullen, after more than nine hours, was turning the final corner before entering the finish area. Those of us who heard from our balconies hurried down and the hotel catering staff joined in to give him a warm reception. Bobby McMullen is blind and with the help of his guide he swam, biked and ran this entire triathlon. I was especially happy to see that they rousted out the naked girl so he could also get lei-ed.
Now the tables are back up for tonight’s award banquet and they are already prepared with elegant food service, flowers, lights, music and entertainment for over a 1000 people. CBS has already done a cut and edited 10 minute version of the race to show during dinner. After that, there will be a very wild costume party in the ballroom and this is where everyone really cuts loose. Last year the French team showed up in nothing but chef’s aprons as The Naked Chefs. The Dutch came wearing the giant inflated orange buoys that marked the swim turns. Rich has his costume: he’s wearing his boxers with a pillow jammed down in them, the hotel bathrobe hanging open, his flipflops, cigar in mouth and newspaper under his arm. Yes- he’s Tony Soprano. I settle for a fancy mask.
In amongst the photos you will see, last but absolutely not least, a marathon runner back in Michigan and his dear friend, Jill. She ran the half marathon and together they make a lovely and tired looking pair.