Early this evening (Wed), Carmen and I went for short run/jog along Alii Drive and who should we bump into? None other than my mate Chris! That’s McCormack to you…. I was just giving him some last minute tips on his preparation for Saturday and strangely enough, he bloody well ignored me. What can I say? I reckon he must have felt a bit threatened by my pace since I was going deceptively slow at the time, let’s call that walking! Anyway, he cruised past Carmen and I and headed off into the distance for his early evening dinner of fish and chips and a pint, not!
Anyway, today was a Sam ‘Scorsese’ day, the film director. Armed with a Sony camcorder courtesy of Chris, I took loads of shots of the swim practice session, the Expo and parts of the run and bike course.
The swim practice session starts around 6am and goes on until 9am. It is very well organized. Gatorade operates a kit drop-off area manned by half a dozen volunteers situated 10m from the beach. With just one entry point onto the beach, the immediate vicinity is absolutely crowded and bustling. With people using it as a meeting point as well, it’s just like a scrum-down at the beginning of a swim start. Nevertheless, the buzz is awesome. I could hear a lot of German, Spanish, French and Portuguese (Brazilian) spoken but I could not hear anyone from Asia, not even Japanese. While the race is truly international, make no doubt about it the race is very American! By that I mean there is a lot of hype and hoopla so be prepared if ever you make it to Kona.
Back to the swim practice. The water is calm early in the morning. It’s not as calm as Langkawi but much better than Desaru. The swim course is one loop out and back and parallel to the shore. Carmen and I did not swim all the way out to the half way point but there were support crews out on the water over the whole distance. Again, this shows the excellent organization of the event. The water temperature is cool but once you start swimming, the temperature seems just right. Carmen and I noticed a lot of athletes using those thin wetsuits over their trisuits. The Zoot version of the thin wetsuit was selling at 200USD in the Expo (ideal for you, Emma for swimming in Bukit Jalil). Once out of the water and back to the Gatorade tent, the volunteers quickly hand your bag back and give you a free Gatorade bike bottle and a bottle of Endurance drink. Needless to say, Carmen went back for more and more. We are up to three bike bottles so far but I reckon we’ll be up to 10 before we leave!
And then it was time for the Expo. Ford is the title sponsor for the race and as you can imagine it has a lot of snazzy vehicles on display. However, I did not see anyone showing the slightest bit of interest in what Ford had to show. Instead, most people were looking for the sexy bikes and the latest go-faster gear that was on show. That included Carmen and me. All the top brands of bikes were on display….. and there was a special beginners section for those riders using a Trek TTX! By the way, Cervelo had a P4 on display. Once we had finished with the bikes, we headed for the freebie section where we got loaded on free Gatorade, Powerbar drinks and granola (that was our breakfast). Interestingly, Powerbar had a new product that is like a jelly bean but nicer. It’s called Gel Blast. Sadly, they are only available in the US. They are nice.
Once we were done at the Expo, we headed out on the bike and run course and visited the famous run turn-around at the National Energy Lab. My God, what a desolate place. This turn-around is about 13/14k from the finish line and since the sun goes down at 6.15pm, Carmen and hundreds of other athletes will be there in the dark with her glow stick! I am sure that completing this section of the course with no lights or people to lend some support will be tough. Nevertheless and knowing Carmen as we all do, she will take on the challenge in her stride. At least, she has now seen the place in daylight and seen the lava fields that surround this special place.
Tomorrow’s agenda is an early morning swim followed by the mandatory Gatorade bottle collection! Thereafter, Carmen and I may go for a trip in the car and be a tourist for the day. The race briefing is tomorrow evening and while Carmen is not keen to go, I feel that on this first occasion, we should go.
Anyway, more to come tomorrow…….