Well what a journey the last three days have been, not just 515 kms of swimming, cycling and running but it has been a great test both physically and mentally. Yesterday (Tuesday) being the day after the three day event was about putting our feet up and sorting our gear and equipment out ready for our return journey back to New Zealand today.
First things first though. I awoke after about 6 hours sleep having fallen sleeping as soon as my head hit the pillow after the double marathon. I awoke at 0130 hours and raided the team fridge in our apartment by finishing off a steak and anything else that I could get my hands on. I got back to bed about 0300 hours in the morning for a few more hours sleep. This is the most I have had in a long time being an insomniac in someways (but I won’t do a daily double marathon to cure my insomnia lol).
The team headed to the Noosa Surf Club in time for the 0800 breakfast that was sponsored by Boost Juice Bars as a charitable fundraising for one of the Surf Clubs young members who has been diagnosed with leukemia. We had pre-purchased our tickets for this worthy cause and wished him well in his journey to recovery.
Ray had scheduled a 30 minute cycle for me, which in all honesty I was not looking forward to. I went to the flat roads and took it slow. As it was only 30 minutes I didn’t wear cycling shorts instead just throwing on a normal pair of running shorts. I should have known better as instantly my butt was hurting with the after effects of the two days of 420 kms of cycling. The velcro on my cycling shoes only just connected as my feet were swollen from the event, or more so from the double marathon.
Last night we attended the Awards Function which was scheduled from 1630 hours until midnight. We had met Lily’s (our paddler) Mum at the breakfast. She mentioned that Lily was at school but wanted to find out how I went. So her mother came to find us. Apparently we were the talk of the school. I asked her mum to bring Lily to meet us at Peppers Noosa Resort and Villas just prior to prize-giving so I could thank her and give her a gift. The smile on Lily’s face beamed and told her if I came back I want her to crew for me on the paddle for my swim again. I also said if she wishes to do an Ultraman Australia one day, I’ll come and crew for her. My crew joked with her that she would be part of the run crew so start training. The look on her face was priceless, but I reassured her that I definitely want her as my paddler.
At the Awards Ceremony after a few welcome drinks the support crews were asked to enter the dining area and the athletes were then paraded through carrying their respective country flags. Dave Oliver the other Kiwi athlete asked me to carry it. I was stoked, but told him he was the winning Kiwi so he should carry it. Dave insisted it was my role today (what an awesome guy) so in we all went with beaming smiles all round. Steve King (Stevo) the Master of Ceremonies got the ceremony underway and all athletes were brought on stage individually to pass on their messages of thanks and how their own journey went.
There was certainly many emotional speeches and stories of finishers finding dark places within during the three days and how they fought through. It certainly showed the difference between Ironman level (which is tough enough) to Ultraman level.
At the start of my speech I put my Finishers Medal around my neck again and explained I wasn’t wearing this medal for myself, but I was wearing it for my support crew. They earned it just as hard as me if not more so with all the work behind the scenes, especially during the event.
I thanked my sponsors with my prime sponsor being ‘Off-Limits’ and the ‘New Zealand Defence Force Singapore Fund’ and thanked Anodyne Services Australia (ASA) for the two 4WD vehicles we were given for the event. The vehicles were arranged through Debs Pohatu and the Director Gavin. I then explained the charitable cause I was raising funds for and asked Coach Ray to come on stage.
Ray challenged all athletes to nominate one person from their support crew and once that was identified, that crew member was invited to do the 22 press-ups (#22PressUps for #22Killed) for the separate global cause of suicide through PTSD. I was amazed how many jumped straight into it.
The Race Director asked me to stay on stage and invited Dave Carroll, a former member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and now a member of the Royal Australian Air Force to come on stage. Dave explained the Military Division which was a separate award for the first currently serving military member world wide to cross the finish line after the three days.
I was absolutely flawed to receive this award. I didn’t even know it was part of the event until I caught up with Dave at various parts of the double marathon when we spent various phases playing cat and mouse running with each other and he was telling me about it.
I was then presented with the Military Division Winners Trophy (UltraMate), my Ultraman Australia Finishers Trophy and my Finishers Jacket. Once again I was beaming and instantly knew and decided there and then I had to return next year to defend my Military Division win.
After the Awards a photo clip was shown of the athletes at various stages of the three days. Some showed the horrific bumps and grazes from meeting the tarmac when crashing their bike, athletes jumping in the air when they saw the camera (God knows where that energy came from) and all sorts of tears and joy. There was a couple of good photos of me. One of the ones I like best is when I am sitting down after the swim and my team are dressing me for the cycle on day one. The photographer at the time said “man, this crew is like a Formula One Racing Crew“. There are also a couple of good shots from the run.
It was a late night with the ceremony starting just after 1615 hours when we met up with Lily and her family and we didn’t get back to our apartment until just after midnight.
Once again everyone, I am absolutely flawed at how many messages of support I have received throughout this journey, not just leading up to the event from friends, family and work colleagues, but especially once it got underway. The donations are amazing for the Fallen Heroes of KIWI (Killed, Injured, Wounded and Ill). We start our journey back to New Zealand today with Derrick staying on for a couple of stays in Brisbane to catch up with friends.
Whats next… definitely Ultraman Australia 2017!
Regards John Humphries (UltraHumps)!