After two-and-a-half years of planning, a group, consisting of more than 4,000 volunteers and 1,900 participants, pulled off the inaugural Ford Ironman St. George Triathlon two weeks ago, Sunday, May 1, in St. George, Utah.
Unfortunately, a lot of Las Vegas residents (those who do not read running magazines, etc.,) would loved to have known about it, as it would’ve made for a nice outing—but of course the local newspapers didn’t seem to think it important enough to use even a short blurb.
Fortunately, for you readers, I have an old friend (not in age mind you) who mentioned that she had worked as one of the volunteers. I, of course (the old—yes in age—reporter in me), got interested and, with her help, gathered some information for all of us to read.
It all started with a spark of an idea between a small group of public officials and a few die-hard runners who live in St. George. The city already holds an Annual Marathon, which will be celebrating its 34th year this October. I didn’t know about that event either. Geeze, maybe the St. George Chamber of Commerce should look into hiring a Las Vegas publicist to get the word out on its special events. Just a random thought.
So, anyhow, contact was made with the Ford sponsored Ironman organization, and, after lengthy negotiations and many visits to St. George, a contract was signed, sealed and delivered. The contract calls for the Triathlon to be held the first weekend of May, for the next three or five years, depending on the response from competitors and the city. It would also be a qualifying race for 72 slots to the Ford Ironman World Championship, taking place on Oct. 9, 2010 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
The professional athletes lined up at the start line at 6:50 a.m. followed at about 7 a.m. for age group competitors. The early morning start temperature was a cool 48 degrees, and the race ended under a sunny afternoon in the mid-70s. The first leg of the three events was a 2.4-mile swim in the Sandy Hollow Reserve, which, according to various sources, was an excellent venue, offering perfect swimming conditions. This was followed (after a change of clothing in special tents, with volunteers assisting) by the 112-mile bike portion. That would kill the normal human being (at least me for sure), with another change of clothing at the end, for the final 26.2-mile run. Each portion of the overall race has a specific cutoff time, with 17 hours allowed to finish.
A total purse of $50,000 (well worth shooting for), was evenly split between the professional men and women.
The winner in the professional men’s division was Austria’s Michael Weiss. Weiss made history, becoming the first Austrian male to win an Ironman with an overall time of 8:40:08. Ben Hoffman, of Durango, Colorado, finished approximately 11 minutes later for second, followed by third place finisher, Australian Chris McDonald.
Canada’s Heather Wurtele was victorious in the women’s division, taking an early lead from Ironman titleholders Kate Major and Gina Crawford, and pulling away to win with a time of 9:35:26. Wurtele maintained differential of about 10 minutes or more throughout the bike and run events. Caitlin Snow, a pre-race favorite, clocked the day’s fastest marathon split, 3:10:15, taking herself from fifth to third place by the end of the race, with a time of 10:07:26. Meredith Kessler of San Francisco, Calif., turned in a time of 9:46:58 to capture second place.
According to city officials, the weekend event meant a boost to the St. George economy of $1.4 million. Now, just imagine, how much more it would raise and mean to the community, if we only knew about it in advance.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
Well, gang, as you probably know, I am a poor, starving artist as well as a writer. This weekend, I will be attending the Grand Opening of a new Art Gallery in Boulder City, Nevada. “The Corner Galley,” 1325 Arizona Street, is right across the street from the Beer Brewery. It’s really a quaint little gallery and, according to the owner, Mrs. Chris Frausto, has 26 artists exhibiting their works. I will have three of my favorite bronze sculptures on display (and for sale). The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place yesterday (Thursday). The Gallery will officially open Sunday, May 16, from 1-8 p.m., with the artist reception from 5-8 p.m. I will be there, that’s for sure, and I hope many of you, my readers and friends, will stop by and take a look.
Just a quick word about the passing of one of the great entertainers of our time, and a beautiful person inside and out. Ms. Lena Horne was 92 years young when the Man upstairs called for her to join His choir. I first met Ms. Horne in 1960, when I accompanied Joe Louis to a meeting, in the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, with Sugar Ray Robinson (a multiple boxing champion of the ‘40s,’50s and ‘60s). We were going to promote a fight for Robinson that year. Ms. Horne was visiting Robinson and his wife, at the time. She was absolutely stunning and so soft spoken. I saw her a few times after that, including in 1977, when she appeared at Caesars Palace, where she shared the stage with the great Harry Belafonte. I remember, to this very moment, how beautiful Ms. Horne was on that huge stage. She had on a magnificent red gown, and a single spotlight highlighted her as she stood stage left (if you are facing the stage) and Belafonte was way over at stage right, with a single spot on him. I can’t remember the song they sang, but it was majestic. What a grand lady!
Will be attending the Connie Francis/Dionne Warwick performance next weekend, May 21-23, at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. Last time I saw Ms. Warwick, she was downtown at the Golden Nugget when Steve Wynn owned the casino. Haven’t seen Ms. Francis in years. Looking forward to the show.
Well, gang, that’s all there is for this week. I’m outa here!