Ironman Wisconsin Swim and Bike Cut-Offs

>> Thursday, September 17, 2009

There’s a 2 hour and 20 minute cut-off for the swim at most Ironman races. It always gets a little emotional when that time is nearing. The 2:20 cut-off was a little loose at IM WI on Sunday: they kept saying that you just need to be standing in the water by that time, even if you aren’t quite across the timing mat.

Here’s the last few minutes and seconds of the swim at IM WI 2009. The crowd hears Mike Riley say what they’ve been wanting to hear at the 1:50 point in this video, and they erupt!

Direct link on YouTube

There was actually one more man JUST behind him in the water. They let that second man keep going too. Anyone else out there finished the swim, their timing chip was removed, and their Ironman Day was over.

I dug through the results last night. The man that finished just behind the man in the video went on to finish the race in 16:22:03. Unfortunately, the man in my video didn’t make the bike cut-off - he never finished the race.

This next video is RIGHT at the bike cut-off time (which is 5:30 pm - 10 hours and 30 minutes into the race). Usually, athletes are told to dismount well before the 2 timing mats, and then run over the mats and into transition. This woman was SO CLOSE to missing the cut-off time that the volunteers didn’t even let her dismount; they just drug her across both timing mats while she was still on her bike so that she’d make the cut-off time!

Direct link on YouTube

I think at the end of the video, you can hear people shouting “Good job, Julie.” I searched through the results, found a “Julie” with one of the slower bike splits, and she didn’t end up finishing the race. Dang.

The saddest thing (which I couldn’t bring myself to film) was the 2 people that finished just a few minutes after Julie. The next person to finish the bike dismounted and went sprinting across the timing mats as if he knew it was going to be close. A volunteer had to grab him around his waist to stop him. The athlete’s head dropped - he knew why the volunteer was holding him back. They took his chip and ended his race.

A minute after he came in, a woman came riding up. She dismounted, was told that she couldn’t continue, and she placed her head in her hands and just stood there and cried. I think everyone around her was crying too.

Later today I’ll post photos of a lot of our friends rocking the race. It will be more up-beat than this post! ;)


KatieTri's 8:05 AM, September 17, 2009  

So I am in your swim cut off video...I actually pulled the guy out of the water and jogged/walked him across the timing mats.

Great videos, by the way. It's cool to show a little behind the scenes.

Christi 9:08 AM, September 17, 2009  

Wow, I think I am going to cry for all of them!

amybee 9:21 AM, September 17, 2009  

that swim guy was amazing! He looked so shell-shocked when he came through the chute. I got all teary watching him.

Since it looks like I'm going to participate in the 2010 event, I'm now obsessively researching the results from last Sunday...

I found someone that had a swim time of 2:20:59. That person finished with a total time of 16:22:03 (number 2089).

All this research is part of my "pre-psych out plan" to convince myself that I will NOT suffer from the Cutoff times...

t-odd 10:10 AM, September 17, 2009  

I am SO excited you got that on video. The guy in the red hat and black shirt is ME! I have to tell you, that was the most heart wrenching and inspiring part of the day. She was awesome! Too bad she didn't finish.

Adam 10:19 AM, September 17, 2009  

Wow, emotional. After stopping people I'd have to go right over to the finish and watch people finish to pick my spirits back up.

Velma 10:37 AM, September 17, 2009  

I saw similar things at Louisville - it just kills ya

X-Country2 10:38 AM, September 17, 2009  

Oh, now I'm all choked up. Wow, IM is no joke.

HurdlingHam 10:58 AM, September 17, 2009  

This totally made me tear up! What great videos. I volunteered at IM the past 3 years on the run, and it was hard seeing people at like 10:30 or 11 at mile 19 or 20 and knowing they weren't going to make it. EVERYTHING about Ironman is so powerful...the heart wrenching moments and the incredible ones...and it just is the most amazing thing to be a part of. Ever since the first time I saw IM WI, I've made it my life goal to do it...someday. :)

Nat 11:37 AM, September 17, 2009  

Steve you know one of the many things I love about your blog is you don't forget ANYONE. I love it!

Donald 12:23 PM, September 17, 2009  

Outstanding post. The drama at the back of the pack is always extremely compelling. Thanks for the reminder.

Regina 12:56 PM, September 17, 2009  

Damn man, you made me cry.....yet again..

Trisaratops 1:02 PM, September 17, 2009  

An athlete in my tri club made the bike cutoff by 6 minutes...and then finished in 16:54. We were all on pins and needles and were so happy to see her make it.

I have MAJOR respect to all who start an Ironman, regardless of what happens.

Erin 1:23 PM, September 17, 2009  

These are FANTASTIC videos! Thanks for being there to catch these moments. This is really what Ironman is all about -- and you've gotta hand it to those bike catchers. They're amazing, every year.

Alisa 3:27 PM, September 17, 2009  

I could not even imagine getting through a 2.4 mi swim and 112 mi on the bike only to be told I couldn't go on. I almost cried reading your post, I don't know what I'd do if that happened to me.

This is why I need to find races without cutoffs =).

21stCenturyMom 3:31 PM, September 17, 2009  

There's nothing more heartbreaking than watching someone miss a cut off. So sad.

Stefanie 3:38 PM, September 17, 2009  

I read in a book once that the most power thing an athlete learned was in an IM race that they didnt finish because they missed a cut off. It is a tough pill to swallow but I know that those who werent able to finish this year are destinted for greatness and we will see them again. Thanks for catching the moments that make all of use realize that IM is real.

Runner Leana 3:43 PM, September 17, 2009  

I volunteered at the IMC swim at watching the cut off really WAS emotional. They did something similar that if you could stand up in the water they would let you continue. Two guys made it in just in time, but not sure what happened to the rest of their day. The cutoffs are totally heart wrenching. All that preparation and not being able to finish... Thanks for sharing those videos and stories.

Runner Leana 3:52 PM, September 17, 2009  

I was curious and looked at the IMC results and the great news is that both guys that barely made the swim cutoff did finish the race! The first fella in 14:29:44, the other in 15:54:51. How awesome!

Maria 3:53 PM, September 17, 2009  

thanks for the videos, as heartbreaking as they are, it's awesome that you showed everything that makes ironman, ironman.

Jessica 4:00 PM, September 17, 2009  

Thanks for the videos...I'm going to link your page on my blog for all my friends and family to see.

I just signed up for IM Louisville next year and watching these definitely choked me up. Not even just for the people crossing the swim and bike finish....but just seeing all the support that is there. I've never been to an Ironman and won't be able to get to one until I'm actually participating next August. Your videos are great for giving me a taste of what is to come!

LG 4:17 PM, September 17, 2009  

i can't even watch these videos as I'm completely tearing up just reading this.

Noelle 2:40 AM, October 16, 2009  

I know Julie! She didn't make the cut off the 1st loop of the run. Such a bummer!

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