Ironman 2021 Kicks off in The Woodlands
THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The Ironman is back after a 3 race hiatus due to the Covid pandemic. Athletes lined up early Saturday morning for the first leg of the race; the swim. Arguably the most dangerous part of the course because of the amount of competitors trying to finish as fast as they can. Amateurs in this part of the race are separated from the pros because many of them don't have the experience to swim in open water or even recover if anything were to happen. Since the majority swim in a group it is not uncommon for bumps and hits, even a kick in the chest on accident.
All of the athletes in the fall Ironman Texas are amateurs who want to test their skills in one of the hardest triathlons in the world. For short notice there was a surplus of athletes that signed up; just shy of 1500 but unfortunately many dropped due to this race not 'counting' towards a championship. With a little over 800 competitors and no pros, they hit the water early Saturday morning with a crowd of spectators watching from the top of a bridge on Lake Woodlands.
Ironman Texas is Back! pic.twitter.com/lLBvnfjkoy— Woodlands Online Sports (@WOLsports) October 9, 2021
Some competitors were true fresh fish [first time Ironman Competitors] but many have done this race before. It was a shocking to see the first competitor, Andres Castillo, come out of the water first at a pro pace, 52:04. Shortly after Andres, athletes started emerging out of the water with determination on their faces as they ran up the ramp towards their second part of the race, the 112 mile bike.
Unfortunately there were disqualifications due to not finishing each event in time and it was crushing to see these athletes who spent their year(s) training for a huge race. But they were out there and made the effort to test their abilities in the hardest race in the world.
Andres, who was first out of the water, held onto that top spot throughout the bike course down Hardy Toll Road and back into The Woodlands. He was once again the first competitor to dismount off of the bike and hit the 26.2 mile marathon. Moments after, the second competitor turned the corner and started racing down the finishing stretch to peruse Andres. With this triathlon being more of a time trial it was hard to determine the 1st place athlete but it was evident in how quickly the top five were finishing who where at the top of the leaderboard.
As the third place female started her race, we once again saw the race leader running down the waterway for his second out of three laps. This final stage of the race is arguably the most grueling of the other three. All stages push athletes to their limits and to finish off with a marathon separates these athletes and makes them true Ironman. For many this was their best stage and for others this was the final test.
Once again we see Andres crossing the finish line many minutes before the second competitor and with little signs of exhaustion. Throughout the race he was calm and collected, and seemingly expelling just enough energy for each stage. This confidence and training comes with years of experience as well as knowing the bodies limits.
Ironman Texas will be back next year in the spring and once again many athletes, this time including pros, will test their bodies in the three stages of the race. This time, the race counts and this time there ill be hundreds more.