One of the featured articles on the official Ironman.com website is called “3 Ways to Solve Your Race Day Stomach Issues.”
Triathlon is definitely not a sport for the squeamish.
This was the second year in a row I camped out at the finish line of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship at Henderson Pavilion. It also was the second year in a row I watched a fit young man with a lantern jaw and toothy grin named Sebastian Kienle cross the finish line first.
This year, he got down on his knees and broke the tape with his forehead.
When he did this Sunday morning, Sebastian Kienle did not appear to be suffering from stomach distress.
Instead of Pepto-Bismol, the 29-year-old native of Germany reached for a can of Sprite after going for a 1.2-mile swim in Lake Las Vegas, a 56-mile bicycle ride through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and a 13.1-mile run through Green Valley’s tree-lined boulevards and parkways.
A lot of people cheered and honked horns. Some wished they had gotten off the 215 at Eastern instead of Green Valley Parkway.
When you swim and bike and run for more than four hours consecutively, it can result in a “lack of digestive enzymes” and “insufficient stomach flora” and “insufficient stomach acid production.” This must be why most of the competitors look pained at the end, and walk as if they just got off a horse.
I’m not sure what stomach flora is, but Sebastian Kienle’s must have been fine. Ditto for his digestive enzymes and stomach acid.
After crossing the finish line in 3 hours, 54 minutes, 35 seconds last year, Kienle finished in 3:54.02 on Sunday. The rainy weather and leaden skies shaved seconds off times, and, in one notable case, skin off an elbow.
Every third triathlete who crossed the finish line seemed to be from Australia, New Zealand or Boulder, Colo., though 53 countries were represented.
The women’s pro winner, Melissa Hauschildt, once was a middle-distance track and field runner from Adelaide, Australia, who now trains in Boulder; she crossed the finish line bleeding somewhat profusely from the elbow after crashing her bike on the wet pavement.
The man on the Internet feed said more than 90,000 athletes attempt to qualify for the 70.3 world championships but only 2,310 make it. (Their collective percentage of body fat: about 2.6.)
During the postrace news conference, the man with the microphone had a cryptic exchange with Sebastian Kienle about being a “one-trick pony.” It was hard to comprehend what they were talking about; the man with the microphone did not turn it on so everybody could hear.
Kienle more or less said he didn’t know what a one-trick pony was — but if that was a good thing, he was happy to be one. It reminded me of when Howard Cosell mentioned to Muhammad Ali that the champ was being truculent: Ali said he didn’t know what truculent meant, but if it was good, then he was that.
Later, the man with the microphone would say only that one of the other triathletes had called Kienle a one-trick pony, referring to his pedaling power in the cycling segment, and that this other triathlete failed to finish — insufficient stomach flora? — while Kienle finished first.
But my favorite triathlete on this day — and I must confess that I did not stay around to watch all 2,310 cross the finish line — was bib No. 45 among the men.
This was Felipe Van de Wyngard of Santiago — “I am from Chile, but I have a Belgian name,” he said — who had an awful race (due mostly to a flat tire while cycling), until about 100 yards from the finish. This was where Van de Wyngard’s wife, Pamela, placed Max, the couple’s 6-month-old son, in his daddy’s arms.
Felipe and Max would cross the finish line together, and that would make up for that flat tire and the wet pavement and the humidity at the end.
But just before Van de Wyngard and his infant son could finish the 70.3-mile odyssey, a lady from the tour raced out there and told Felix it wasn’t allowed, and so Felix, who appeared to be laboring, turned around and handed Max back to the mother. Then he did another about-face and finished.
When I asked about it afterward, the young Chilean with the Belgian surname got a pained expression on his face, as if his stomach flora was totally out of whack. Little Max still was riding in the crook of his daddy’s arm.
“They didn’t disqualify me, did they?”
Not as far as I know, I told Felipe Van de Wyngard, though it seemed that what he had was more precious than a medal or a ribbon anyway.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.