An Ironman first timer usually says after crossing the finish line it was the longest day of their life. The seventh edition of the Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene was for many the longest day of their lives on the longest day of the year completing the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26 mile run.  Everyone describes this course as beautiful, challenging and accompanied by outstanding support of volunteers and community.  I received some great play-by-play this morning from Tri Club members and race participants Jon Lewis and Sue Beatty.  They both experienced a very good race with near perfect weather, "almost Santa Barbara conditions". This is their reprise from 2006 when the weather was sweltering hot, however this year Sue improved her time by over an hour!  Sue decided to stay outside on the swim to avoid the humanity however the winds pushed the waves to your face going out causing some water swallowing but coming back was fast.  It is a double loop so you had two hard legs and two easy legs in the pristine mountain-fed cool waters of the lake. Jon noted the double-looped bike course had changed adding a surprising amount of hills.  He said it felt like a roller coaster trying to keep your momentum for the uphills repeating several times requiring close attention to the climbs, descents and false flats.The run is an out-and-back course that is repeated twice. Again, there are several false flats and gradual ups and downs for competitors to deal with. Jon said during the start of the run there was word of a possible storm brewing up for the afternoon. On his second loop the temperature dropped as the wind came off the lake.  It started a downpour rain enough to cause the streets to be streaming but it slowed to a drizzle.  The volunteers were handing out mylar to cover and keep warm.  He said the people that started walking really got cold so he decided to keep moving albeit a high speed Ironman shuffle.  Both Jon and Sue emphasized how well organized the preparations, the event and the post event activities.  Sue said the food on course was like a very nice buffet, with gator aid, power gels, power bars, fruits of all kinds and coke.  Jon and Sue trained using similar nutrition as offered by the race and also used cliff blocks and cells and concentrated cytomax for water refills along the course. Chris Latham strongly recommended going to the welcome dinner on the Friday before the race.  It was very motivating with videos, bios and USAT athletes.  She felt the whole town treated all the participants as royalty and would go out of their way to help make their experience exceptional.  Typical Ironman volunteers are about a 1000 in number, Coeur d'Alene boasted 3000 volunteers on the course with 300 volunteers in the transition and med tents.  The townspeople really showed their appreciation for the over $7 million this events brings to the local economy. Chris's race day story starts with a wake up at 3:30am to eat and get ready for the 7am start.  The water was 65 degrees with outside temp about 62 - 64.  Entering the water and off to the first buoy she had some bad thoughts about the several men competitors that were disturbing her swim plan of good rhythmic strokes and drafting as much as she could.  On the second loop she was able to smooth out and complete a good swim.  She followed her "Going Long" race plan by starting easy on the bike and gradually negative splitting until mile 80. This is when her inner voice said the bike needs to be over.  Her mantra was to remember to have a "healthy respect for the marathon to come."  Chris said the whole event culminated during the last downhill into the finish chute.  There was a roar of people yelling her name and cheering like she was just entering the Coliseum on her way for an Olympic gold! Here are the results from our Tri club members:  Stuart Sato 11:36:09, Dan Rudd 11:46:51, Greg Dalforno 11:52:52, Chris Latham 12:00:09, Jon Lewis 12:41:06, Sue Beatty 13:04:28, Elda Rudd 13:04:43, Marie Schnyer 14:42:42, Stephen Morrison 15:35:55. More than 2,100 athletes from around the world took part in the 2009 event. One of the participants was Dave Orlowski, one of the 15 original Ironman competitors in the first ever Ironman competition in 1978. Orlowski finished third at that historic Ironman event on Oahu; however he waited thirty years to compete in his second Ironman. Another amazing story is Tyler Stewart 9:23:21, she not only established a new bike course record, she also broke the overall course record while securing her first Ironman title. Congratulations to Stuart, Dan, Greg, Chris, Jon, Sue, Elda, Marie and Stephen for having a very good long day of your life on the longest solstice day of the year!

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