John 4 ever! This phrase was on spouse Helen's room wall when I arrived for our first date in 1969. June of that year Beatle John Lennon and Yoko Ono were in room 1738 of the Montreal Fairmont Queen Elizabeth singing for world peace with their one week "Bed-in". It was a world-wide media sensation with iconic photos appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Forty-four years later, John Herzog, Liz Inglese, David Parker and I arrive in Montreal for our first stop to the second annual Ironman Mont-Tremblant, although this time, being the first North American Championships. All were "in" on my plan to surprise and celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary and Helen's "39th" birthday. I booked room 1738 which has been kept in pretty much it's original state filled with photos of John, Yoko, Timothy Leary, Tommy Smothers and others that recorded "Give Peace a Chance" in that very room.
We may understand why they chose Montreal for this venue! It is a multi-cultural-lingual city with amazing beauty and charm. Our SB Tri contingency saw it as a huge bonus added to our highly recommended Mont-Tremblant location just 1.5 hrs up a beautiful tree lined scenic highway. Passing several small ski resorts and quaint bergs along the way we first see the gorgeous Lake Tremblant in the foreground with the picturesque hillside Switzerland-like village framing the background. We instantly knew crossing the continent and Canadian border was all worth the trip.
Early morning of August 18th the thundering sounds of two F-18s strafed the crowd at lake edge when the cannon went off with plums of fireworks in the air. The pros were off on the 2.4 mile swim in crystal clear 72 degree water arriving to cheers from what seems the entire population of Quebec. The carpet-lined trek from water to transition tent seemed slightly longer than most but very comfortable. The bike course was again lined with trees, lakes, rivers, hills and valleys from highways to small two lane main-streets of townships flushed with the screaming and helpful locals. I lost a bottle somewhere and asked a street-side spectator if he had any spare water. He quickly ran to his cooler for an ice cold bottle. He typified the community spirit that embraces this event. The run was essentially a lake side jaunt to an abandoned railroad trail made of decomposed granite perfect for soft landings. The up-and-back double loop course was as if someone had hacked out just enough to fit a train or, in this case, 2600 triathletes aiming for the crowd packed finishing chute at the village center.
The tape was broken by Australia's Luke Bell with an 8:26:06. America's Mary Beth Ellis was the first woman across with a 9:07:56. However our own John Herzog had the race and PR of his life with a 11:40:50. Next we have David Parker recording his 8th Ironman with 13:04:03. Mike Reilly said loud and clear "Liz Inglese, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN" for the FIRST time with a 14:28:14. As she filed through the finishing chute her family of 4 plus Helen were screaming loudest of all. Liz's family is a major hoot! We enjoyed their over-the-top fun-filled non-stop day and night energy. John was on-point when he said the best part of this intense insane time was making new friends. A special thanks goes to John, who along with his many talents was handy with his French fluency. French was always drifting through the air transporting you to the old country feel. David said even the French word for garbage sounded romantic.
The 1969 John and Yoko room was a fun surprise and big hit. Preparing and disclosing this plan to my colleagues, John mentioned while Helen and I were holding hands watching the protesting Beatles and the first landing on the moon, he and everyone else were in kindergarten. It has dawned on me the readers of this may not have been born yet. To them, I apologize, it was a different world. To the tri club subgroup of boomers out there I say "right-on and bitchin'."
I must confess, I took some license with Helen's writings on the wall. She actually wrote "Paul 4 ever!" I know he was her first love but it just fit better to my story. And besides, it didn't seem that critical since she decided to marry someone that looks more like Ringo!
DISCLAIMER: Sandy Specifically told me not to post these pics this but I couldn't help myself!!!
Sandy claiming 5th Place in his age Group at the Ironman North American Championship!