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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

First Ironman in Sacramento takes place after being canceled last year
Athlete Joshua Hall (#2815) of Huntington Beach runs to the finish line of Ironman California by the California State Capitol to place 10th overall with a time of 9:13:32 on Oct. 23, 2022. Photo credit: Dina Bugayevskaya / [email protected]

On Oct. 23, Sacramento residents and athletes from around the world were brave enough to participate in Ironman California: a triathlon where athletes endure a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run all within 17 hours.

The race was originally scheduled for fall of 2021; however, the event was canceled at the last minute due to heavy rain. Although the weather this year was more favorable, it was still windy. 

“The wind was horrible,” said Franz Leitner, an athlete from Vienna, Austria, who finished the race within 9:53 and placed third out of 325 athletes in his age group. 

“If the weather were 5 degrees warmer, it would be much more comfortable during the first stages for sportsmen,” volunteer Vitaliy Mikhailov added.

The weather affected not only the condition of the athletes, but also the safety of the competition. Several accidents occurred, a number of which happened during the biking portion, according to Leitner. 

Mikhailov volunteered from 4:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and said that athletes were freezing and could not get warm. It was cold when they came out of the water and even when they stood before the start of the race.

The race started from the American River near Township 9 Park, went through Sacramento River to Miller Park Marina and finished on the Capitol Mall.

The cold made the swimming portion in the Sacramento River tough for the athletes. Mikhailov said one man was shaking from the cold, and volunteers had to help him walk because he was unable to on his own. 

“He looked like a very frozen person,” Mikhailov said. But when the sun finally warmed up the air, the weather became much better for the athletes.

“On the run at the end, the weather was perfect, not hot,” Mikhailov said. 

But in the athletes’ opinion, it was still windy. “When you ran to the north and northwest, it was really windy,” Leitner said. However, he made it to the podium.

Despite the windy weather, the race was successful, according to organizers. Four thousand athletes crossed the start line and about 2,300 finished the race. The men’s winner overall was Julien Boulain from Paris, France with the time of 8:53. And Liis Rametta from Estonia, became the first woman overall with a time of 9:33.

“I think that Sacramento held this competition with dignity,” Mikhailov said, adding that the event was well organized. The roads were closed to traffic, there were turn marks for athletes, the route of the trail was clear to the competitors, and there were plenty of food stations.

The support of volunteers is what also made the race successful, said organizers. Volunteers were everywhere, in the transit zones and along the race. They helped before the race, during and after. The volunteers helped athletes figure out how to get to their bikes, how to get to shuttle buses, where to find restrooms and so on. 

“Their bags were in order by numbers, but sportsmen were in a sporty mood and ran past their numbers. They got confused and needed our help to find their bags faster,” Mikhailov said.

Mikhailov participated in the Ironman 70.3, ran full marathons twice and did a mountain bike ultramarathon, which is a cross-country race lasting 6-7 hours.

“That was one of the reasons I decided to be a volunteer, because I was helped by volunteers in similar races,” Mikhailov said. And it is always nice that people are truly interested and support you, he added.

This support is important for athletes. Even for those who aren’t beginners. For Leitner, the Ironman Sacramento is his 15th  full-distance race. Athletes spend an immense amount of time preparing for these competitions. For most of them, the main goal is just to overcome themselves.

“The race that is called the Ironman cannot be very easy. It is clear from its name that only iron people can finish it,” Mikhailov said.

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