As you can imagine, it’s been a busy couple of days. After a swim on Friday morning, we visited the race expo where we learned that Tom had acheived 4th place in the Janus Charity Challenge thanks to a couple of last minute donations – thanks again to all of you who contributed to his fundraising success! Race check in was much busier than we expected with spectators lining the sidewalks just to glimpse athletes checking in their bikes. Once Tom’s bike was checked in, a volunteer walked him through the transition area to give him a lay of the land. Not allowed in, we watched from the outside.
After a dinner of plates piled high with pasta, we were all in bed by 8:30 pm! Tom headed down to the race start around 5:00 am. The kids and I followed at 6:00 am only to find parking near impossible. We parked nearly a mile away and walked down to the water where spectators lined every spot along the way. Though we couldn’t maneuver our way to the race start, we were able to the see the swimmers making their way through the 2.4 mile swim.
Next, we positioned ourselves at the bike start to watch for Tom. Remember, there were over 1800 athletes from around the world. In fact, I heard one person say that only one-third were from the United States. So, you can imagine my surprise when I found that the person standing next to me was from Haverford, PA! After giving Tom a big cheer, we hustled out to Kuakini Highway where we waited to see him two more times. Tom looked strong and happy to be out there.
Knowing Tom would be on his bike for hours, the kids and I trekked back to the car, sweating as we trudged. It was not even 9:00 am and the heat was oppressive. Rewarding the kids with donuts, we chilled out at the condo for a bit, went swimming, ate lunch and Tom was still on his bike. We headed back down to the race site under ominous clouds which turned out to be more bark than bite. As a veteran triathlete spectator, we were well-prepared with chairs, signs and a cooler of drinks. And so we waited.
And he came!
There is so much that I want to say about the day but I’m running short on time. There were countless stories out there on the course – some of them heartwarming and some heartbreaking. Darkness fell and the kids and I found ourselves waiting with anticipation at the finish line. The energy was like nothing else, people cheering, music blaring, the announcer shouting out each and every finisher’s name until we heard it. At 13 hours and 44 minutes, the announcer called out: TOM SIBSON – YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!