17 Hours

>> Wednesday, November 23, 2011

For anyone who's trained as an "age-group" triathlete for an Ironman event, you know the meaning behind 17 hours.

Seventeen hours is the cut-off time to be considered an official finisher of an Ironman. After that, they may let you finish or they may pull you off the course, but either way, it won't "count."

Check out this amazing photo from last weekend's Ironman Arizona:

The athlete finishing is Patricia Tillotson (age 56) from Wilmington, DE. She had a 1:38:20 swim, a 8:06:09 bike, and a 7:00:00 run. She finished as the last "official" finisher...

...in exactly 17:00:00.

Eneko Llanos (who won IM AZ in SUB-8:00:00!) is the one cheering right over her shoulder, and I believe that's Linsey Corbin with the camera phone (who finished as the 2nd female in sub-9:00:00). The third place female (Meredith Kessler - 9:00:14) is in the blue jacket between Eneko and Linsey. It's always so cool to see the pros come back out HOURS after they've finished to cheer everyone else to the finish line!

And famed Ironman announcer Mike Reilly (the voice that says "Steve Stenzel, YOU are an Ironman!") is the one crouched down with the backwards hat who is cheering like a mad-man. I don't know how he has the energy to do that for over 17 hours at EVERY Ironman! That man is just as much an athlete as all of the triathletes!

Someone named Sharon commented on the photo on Facebook:

I was there - just to the right of the guy with hat/mustache on far left of the photo. It was a heart-stopping moment. Mike Reilly half-supported, half-flung her across the finish line. I don't think anyone cared that it might be considered outside assistance....

This gives me goosebumps.

Congrats Patricia!!

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Benjamin 6:05 AM, November 23, 2011  

Well, Mike has to wait for about 8 hours until the first people finish, so he has to be active for "just" 9 hours. Also, it seems he doesn't do every single Ironman event, haven't seen him in Switzerland this year! Lazy bum ;)

Steve Stenzel 6:35 AM, November 23, 2011  

I've always wondered HOW many he does. It would be pretty crazy if he did them all. But he's out there all day - when I volunteer for IM WI a few years back, he was announcing all through the swim and cheered the final swimmers on at the 2:20 cut-off - you can see him and hear him in this video I took: http://youtu.be/eHTeVuqxiek. And he was down at the bike-to-run area too. Long day!

Caratunk Girl 7:26 AM, November 23, 2011  

Mike Reilly is just amazing - at IMLP this year...his energy and excitement were just intoxicating!! He is up before the race starts running around announcing...then he is there for the last swimmer like you said (fortunately, I wasn't one of them!)

I guess there are a few he doesn't do, I noticed he wasn't at IMFL this year. But he was in past years. I am doing IMMT this year and I am wondering if he will be there or not. I really hope so.. That voice. Gives me chills!

That photo is just awesome...it says so so much. LOVE IT.

TriMOEngr 7:45 AM, November 23, 2011  

Saw this on another blog. My biggest fear of someday doing an IM race is not making one of the cutoffs.

Anonymous,  8:18 AM, November 23, 2011  

That is so awesome. I just signed up for IMAZ 2012 and this gave me chills! I know I can do it and to have the support like that is amazing! Congrats to her!

bethtrue 8:38 AM, November 23, 2011  

Wow that is so awesome. The photo and your story totally gave me chills!! Everyone is living the moment with her right there!!

Christi 9:07 AM, November 23, 2011  

Brings tears to my eyes!

Jeff 9:27 AM, November 23, 2011  

That's awesome! When I finished my first 50-mile ultra it was like a ghost town at the finish line. There was no fanfare like when I finished my first marathon. When I coached, I made sure everyone knew that we stay to the finish for this very reason. That person worked just as hard as the elites that finished and deserves a pat on the back too...and help to their ride home.

Trisaratops 9:47 AM, November 23, 2011  

THAT = why I freaking love this sport.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Ironmom (Julie) 10:11 AM, November 23, 2011  

Gives me goosebumps, too: I finished mine in 16:35! :)

SteveQ 10:29 AM, November 23, 2011  

A friend of mine ran the Ice Age 50 Mile (cut-off 12:00) in 11:59:59. He was puking and crying and gasping for air and it was the last race that long he ever did. And I avoided him that day, because when he crossed the line, the clock read 12:03; it wasn't until the next day he found out he made it. We both learned something that day - dig deep, even when it seems too late.

Tina Marie Parker 12:31 PM, November 23, 2011  

As a finishline catcher in Az, the last hour was amazing! patricia was a trooper, and so were the two women behind her who did get a medal. Swim started late in the am.

CautiouslyAudacious 3:01 PM, November 23, 2011  

I was there taking pictures at this years race, it was amazing!! Two proposals too. I'm entered to do next year's with my dad!

Benjamin 9:02 AM, November 24, 2011  

So here it says that IMNZ 2002 was Mike's 29th announcing, and here that IMWA 2010 was his 99th, so he averages about ten per year.

It also says (second link) that he has worked over 1000 endurance events and spent 2200 hours behind the microphone at IM events, so that's about 22 hours per event. Long days indeed :)

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