Tomorrow is the day Ironman 2015 hits Port Elizabeth, and it marks the start of my personal countdown with 365 days to go to next year’s competition, the one I’m taking part in. Despite finding myself some 8,000 miles away from the action tomorrow, I can’t help but feel a little nervous for the competitors.
Having witnessed the event first-hand it’s hard not to be drawn in to the buzz around the competition as the atmosphere builds in PE. It may be the fourth largest city in South Africa, but it’s not so large as to be completely overwhelmed when the Ironman circus hits town, and that’s part of its attraction for competitors and visitors.
In Summerstrand, home to the beachfront, start line, transition area and finish line, even the cappuccinos come with logoed-up Ironman sprinkles (thanks Carol Fourie for the pic).
On the day before Ironman proper, there are a couple of other events. There’s a ‘corporate Ironman’ challenge which involves completing 10% of the full event. It’s a great taster for Ironman, and as it’s a team event you can split the three activities between three team members, with one swimming, one cycling and the third running. I completed the swimming leg in 2012, struggling to swim just a tenth of the distance I’ll have to swim in the full Ironman next year and hating every minute (sorry, I know I go on about this. I’m working on it).
To encourage children to get involved there’s also an Ironkidz event on the preceding day. I’ve seen photos online of today’s event and it looks like an inspirational day.
I wish everyone the best of luck for tomorrow’s big day, especially the competitors but also our friends who’ll be watching and most likely supporting or working at the event. With a population of around 800,000, the 70,000 visitors that Ironman attracts to PE will make for a great atmosphere and a good day for the city commercially.
And so to finish on a great phrase I’ve heard South Africans say of their country more than once. Tomorrow – if not always – it will not be a place for sissies.