Under a Clear Blue Sky: 2010 Ironman Wisconsin
On every second Sunday in September since 2002, the city of Madison, Wisconsin has turned out in force to support the Ironman Wisconsin. And by “support,” we’re not talking about small clumps of bored volunteers languidly handing up water bottles. No, we’re talking about scream-till-you’re-voiceless, dawn-until-midnight, thickets-of-fans support. We’re talking about bike course directors with a 1 am wake-up call, and kayak-dwelling life guards who saw all the athletes through the swim safely and then cheered and cheered – all they way up until midnight. We’re talking about a race course lined with fans waving cowbells, flags, and – in one case – dressed up in a full Native American headdress, bellowing support to cyclists during the long grind up Timber Lane, one of the toughest points in the technical, rolling bike course.
The weather at this time of year is, in a word, capricious. Past Ironman Wisconsin races have ranged from scorching with a helping of humid to hypothermia-inducing blustery rain driven by high winds. The 2010 conditions were, though, nearly perfect. Triathletes toiled under an impossibly blue sky with gentle winds and a high of 81 degrees F. Perhaps not surprisingly, course records fell starting with a new swim record set by John Flanagan III of Hawaii, who swam 2.4 miles in 44:56. The Capital Times reported that Flanagan swam for the University of Wisconsin from 1993-1994, so Lake Monona served as a homecoming of sorts. The overall men’s record was broken by Joe Gambles of Australia, who finished the 140.7 mile event in 8:32:32. Women’s winner Gina Crawford, New Zealand, also demolished the women’s course record, finishing in 9:27:26 and inspired by thoughts of her hometown of Christchurch, which experienced a magnitude 7.1 earthquake on September 4, 2010.
Photographer Clint Thayer turned his lens towards the race, following the action of elite and first-time Ironman triathletes alike. Below is a photo essay showing some of the 2,550 Ironman Wisconsin athletes competing this year.