Ultraman Race Report: Wendy Minor

The Ultraman World Championships was indeed the cap on my incredible racing career. It is difficult for me to put into words the experience I went thru, circumnavigating the Big Island by swim, bike and run….320 miles in 3 days with a 12 hour cut-off for each day.This was not a "race"….it was all about Ohana (family), Aloha (love) and Kokua (help). And I had a crew, the Brew Crew, that was second to none: Cheryl and Gil Loomis and Steve and Jakob Dewald. .It all began on Day One with my swim: it was fast….3:24…I was hauling over the 6.2 miles…Steve and Jakob escorted in a kayak. I ate and drank every 30 mins: Gu on the hour, orange juice, coke and water. Orange juice has tons of potassium to offset the huge sodium intake from the ocean and it really helped to stave off the thirst at the end of the swim.  I had a current going with me…awesome. I knew the local waters, so I could dial in my crew. Getting out of the ocean in that time gave me plenty of time to get to the volcano….90 miles, and the last 50 of that with a brutal headwind and a 26 mile climb from sea level to 4000 feet at the end. I got in before dark…11:13 total. Day One in the bank! 

Day 2 is the 171 mile ride from volcano to Hawi, with 7600 ft. of climbing. It was freezing cold at the start, so I was bundled in a jacket, full-finger gloves. The first 20 miles is downhill….then met the Brew Crew, got out of warm clothes, and took off…beautiful day, sun, no wind. I loved Day 2….got to Hilo at 11:30 AM right on my target,and since I knew it would take 4 1/2 hours to climb the Hamakua coast to Waimea, I knew Day 2 was a slam dunk. I arrived in Waimea right on the stroke of 4 pm. Next was the toughest climb…..but it is my favorite climb since it takes me to my house. It is 6 1/2 miles up Kohala Mtn Road….I always climb it in 45 minutes, so I timed myself….when I got to the elevation sign (3564 feet), I was right on…45 minutes! My crew put a windbreaker on me, I put on amber glasses and took off for 13 miles of screaming downhill to Hawi. I had some ranch friends and neighbors following me by this time. That lifted the spirits even higher. I screamed on down the hill with the friends taking pictures of my descent, as I laughed and hollered my way down….I ran into rain on the way down, but heck! I ride in that up there all the time…it didn't slow me down. I whipped into the finish in 10:56…breaking 11 hours. I was ecstatic; so was the Brew Crew and the crowd.

Then it was into the van and off to my house. I had a massage that nite, was fed and shoved into bed. Meanwhile my Brew Crew was quite the entertainment for the massage guy….he's still commenting to friends about the "interesting people" at my house.4 am came early….the run started in Hawi in the dark at 6 am…the run starts with a prayer circle and a bit of chicken-skin chanting….And off we went down the Akoni Pule Hwy. in the dark. My training buddy, Susan Nixon, who had biked and swam all those long training days with me, picked me up at mile 2. So nice to have her along…I had missed her presence the first 2 days, since she had ridden all those miles in training with me. 

The Brew Crew was awesome on Day 3…they took care of every need, dialed me in, and got me to that finish line 52.4 miles from Hawi at the old airport in Kona. The run is the 2nd half of the Ironman bike… It's a long way by car, longer by bike….it's incredibly long to run….I still am amazed that I got in before that 12 hour cut-off, in 11:29.  I knew I had a half hour in the bank for the last several hours, so that helped, even though the Brew Crew was contemplating taking my watch, but my steady "shuffle" that I was clocking on my watch kept my spirits up that I was going to make it. The Crew had all my nutrition needs for me: I was asked what I wanted, but they gave me what I needed. I finally gave up wasting energy replying to them what I "wanted" since I was gonna get what they knew I needed.  On the run I was drinking Gatorade (actually "poisoned" Gatorade, just ask Gil), iced coffee, coke, and sparkling mineral water (that is the ticket, as Steve found out last year. We call it "Wendy Water"). I had Gu and melon pieces….chips, and Enduralytes.. Every 1/2 mile-mile the van stopped, put an ice bag under my cap, cold sponge down my shirt, and an icy towel over me while I drank, then off I went. I didn't walk except while drinking/eating. I shuffled….a death shuffle, but damn! it worked! I had a pacer with me for 50 of the miles….Susan Nixon put in 28 miles, Jakob ran about 20, Steve, Gil and Kat put in miles. Kat just landed on the hwy. somehow…or maybe came up thru the pavement. I don't know how she got there, but there she was….running along with me.

Friends from the ranch came out early to take pictures of me, but got so caught up in the drama and inspiration of my run,that they spent the entire day, leap-frogging my Brew Crew and cheering for me all the way to the finish line. That was really a spirit-lifter. I had  quite the mob of friends running with me on that last mile with folks following on bikes…it was simply amazing, and the crowd at the finish was unbelievable. So many tears behind my sunglasses as I crossed that beautiful finish line into the arms of my Brew Crew, friends, race director and fellow competitors. It was a life-changing experience.What can I say? I am in "shock and awe" that I did it. I feel so special…so much help from a crew that was determined to see me to that finish line. I've heard for years that when you cross that finish line you are a different person. It is so very true. I've just accomplished something that few people have….and I did it at age 65, raising the bar for women by 10 years (and I also had a faster time than the only 65 year old guy to complete the race! How about that!!)

There is nothing more in my racing career that could top this. This was The Perfect Race. 

Time to kick back, enjoy life….relax, and thank all my friends for being there for me, whether in person or by internet or however. I thought of all of you during my 3 days….my FB page has tons of pictures….some of them look so painful. And after the finish line….I was off to the Kona Brewery with my Brew Crew….and oh, those IPAs tasted so good….My favorite picture of the weekend is the one of me sitting at the finish line with a beer in hand and a smile that wouldn't quit.

Thanks to all you HURT folks for the wonderful wishes for my success in completing this….I could feel your vibes. Mahalo!