After having the GPS panic a few times (I need to update the map) we made it safe and sound. A couple wrong turns to get to the hotel (helps to have the actual address) and we were good. Our room was ready early, we got underground parking at the hotel, and we unloaded all by 2pm. That left me with 2hrs to get signed in.
That took no time at all. In the pedestrian village here, there is a free gondola that runs all day long through the middle. Our hotel is at the top of the gondola route, and the finish line and check in are at the bottom. Just a couple of fun, panoramic minutes and we were there.
Checking in was a surprise. The place ran like clockwork, the volunteers were spectacular, and I met Robert - the resident motivational speaker. He was an amazing talker, and I felt embarrassed when I joked about hoping to finish. He got so serious, and it was like his mission to help me. "No negative thoughts! You will finish! If you have negative thoughts, you remember me and remember that Robert believes in you.". That is one man I will never forget.
I attended the athlete dinner and meeting tonight and it turned out to be quite the show! When most people had found a spot to have dinner, a troop of drummers marched in looking something like nouveau Inca. They rocked that place! The beat was incredible and powerful - how that tent stood is beyond me. It was one hell of a start!
There us so much support for this event here, and the pride of the organizers, promoters and volunteers is easy to see. And it carries through in the presentations and meetings. 2500 athletes. 800 of the first timers. 47 countries represented. Youngest athlete - 18. Oldest - 76. Big names were there presenting and discussing what had been done to get thus in place, and how it is Peter Reid's old stomping grounds. One of the original 3 that did the very first Ironman is racing Sunday, and he was inspiring to hear. Lots of WTC brass. But perhaps the most celebrated name was Mike Rielly - Mr. Ironman himself, the man who has called in athletes at the finish line for over 100 races, including Kona.
And he is calling in the racers all Sunday long right here in Mont Tremblant. I nearly screamed and cried like those girls in the old videos of The Beatles. The man who announces Kona will announce my name on Sunday - that is so damned cool!
We took in some of the night activities here, found where I am racking my bike tomorrow, and caught some of the concert. Just before tucking in The Wee before bed, the fireworks started. But thanks to the lucky booking, we just went on the porch of the hotel room and watched them. These fireworks rivaled those on Canada Day - seriously.
One huge disconnect I see is not what I expected. All presentations, all the key people talk about this way of life that allows you to push your limits, challenge yourself to define *you* by taking on these huge events. But there is so much over-the-top hardcore people here that seem to be the exact opposite. My impression is that a lot of these people have lost sight of that core, fundamental mindset that grew from the original Ironman. I may be wrong, but whatever it is, it is right there for all to see. My wife and I were making up a new drinking game. Compression socks - 1 drink. Full finisher outfit - 1 drink. Heard someone say "zone 3" - take another! We would have been wasted in ten steps.
But it really is incredible here and the energy is amazing. I am getting ready for Sunday now - my head us getting in the right place. This is my race, with only myself as the competitor. I will do this. It could be 13hrs, it may be 17. But I will do this.