Toughman Half Ironman Race Weekend Prep

Sunday was the Toughman Half Ironman triathlon.  I would have been racing yesterday - my second time racing Toughman - save for the broken ankle earlier this year that has derailed my racing this season.  As my good friend Rich is the race organizer and founder I worked as a member of the race staff and, as I did last year found it to be incredibly rewarding.  Lots of hard work and lots of hours spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the race site.  But just a great weekend overall.

This was a half iron distance race.  Just for reference that's a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run.  I was involved in getting the aid stations for both the bike and run course setup, supplied with product, and ready for the athletes.  It was amazing to see how much product is required for a half iron distance race with close to 900 athletes racing:

500 cases of water
3,000 bottles of PowerBar Perform
75 cans of PowerBar Perform mix
4 cases of Enduralytes
80 cases of gel packs
80 cases of canned Coke
30 boxes of extra large trash bags
14,000+ cups

All of our product was stored in a shipping container at the race site.  Determining how much product should go where was something I worked out in the weeks building up to the event - yet getting the product out to the aid stations was going to be quite the undertaking.  Three bike aid stations, and 17 run aid stations (athletes would pass 8 of the aid stations twice) were on the map and needed to be stocked with supplies.

This past Friday I inventoried all of the above mentioned product.  Aside from aid station inventory, there were tents that needed to be erected, hurricane fencing to be placed, and a transition area to be set up.  I wasn't involved in all of it, but I arrived that morning and departed for home around 800p.  I know there were others that worked much later into the evening ensuring that site was not only ready for the race on Sunday, but that we were ready for the kids racing scheduled for Saturday as well.

We loaded the trucks with the aid station product late Saturday afternoon, but arrival at the race site for me was around 630a to start working on logistics.  After numerous other tasks, phone calls, and meetings, I had three box trucks backed up to the storage container.  Team members lined up to start the off-loading process and getting the required amount of product into each truck.  We finalized product counts per aid station, compared these counts to spreadsheets that I put together, and locked the trucks down for the night.  We then drove the course (three teams - one for the bike course and two for the run course) and dropped off tables.

I then had some time to watch the athletes check-in as the day came to a close.  The transition area was abuzz with activity with bikes being racked.  It was great fun to feel the vibe.  I walked the expo a bit - saying hello to a few folks I knew in some of the vendor tents - and finally left to get some sleep.  While I arrived home later than the previous night, I again left with an army of people still working to ensure that everything was in tip-top shape for race day.

Sunday is such a blur at the moment.  I couldn't sleep much on Saturday night, as I kept thinking of all the things I had to do and wanted to double check.  So I was up at 230a on race day, and with coffee in hand drove off to buy ice for some of the aid stations. While we did have ice delivered on race day in refrigerated trucks for finish line and post race purposes, getting ice onto the course was going to be handled separately.  (Love 24 hour gas stations...."Hi, I'd like to buy every bag of ice that you have, please....oh, and can I get an extra large coffee?")  After dropping off ice at a couple spots on the course, I arrived at the race site at 330a.  By 430a all the trucks left with teams of three to four people to hit the course and drop off product at the aid stations.  With running headlamps blazing, we left each aid station with all the cases of water, gel, PowerBar Perform, Coke, etc that they needed.  Thankfully, all the volunteers - can't do a race without them - setup the aid stations when they arrived not long after.  They really did an amazing job.

The first bike aid station - at mile 18 and 36 (the athletes would pass by this location twice) - would have 60 cases of water, and 1,500 bottles of PowerBar Perform endurance drink.  The second bike aid station - closer to mile 25 - would have 20 cases of water.  All the other product was split up at all the aid stations on the run course.  We also put 70 cases of water at the finish line, and had three 7 gallon jugs being filled with PowerBar Perform (continually refilled as necessary as racers finished.)  Of course there were bananas, pizza, and bagels for the athletes as they finished and a BBQ at the finish line for all the athletes and families as well.

I left the race site last night absolutely beat.  Again, there were crews still tearing down all the infrastructure while I was showering at home and subsequently falling asleep on the couch around 1000p.  I woke up this morning to stiff fingers, sore hands, tired arms, an aching back, and sore legs.  Oh, and an achilles tendon that's yelling at me for all the twisting and turning done while moving / tossing / placing hundreds of cases of water.  Thankfully I'm taking today off of work from my real job so I can recover a bit.

I have some photos from during the race.  I'll hopefully get a post with a race recap out later this week.