Qualified: 56th at Ironman 70.3 Ireland
Dan Arnett’s September 2011 race schedule was ambitious:
Sept. 4: Ironman 70.3 Ireland (Galway)
Sept. 11: Short Course World Championships (Beijing)
Sept. 18: Sydney Half Marathon (Australia)
Sept. 24: Xterra World Championship (Ogden, Utah)
That’s four races and 16,000 miles in 31 days.
Arnett’s trip started on a Tuesday in Atlanta, where he now works full-time as a triathlon coach after leaving his job as a nuclear engineer last year. After a series of flight mishaps, he wound up overnight at the Indianapolis airport followed by 36 hours in New York’s JFK Delta terminal. When he finally got to Dublin via Amsterdam on Friday, he had no luggage.
He finally got his bike by Saturday evening, put it together by 1 a.m. and took it to transition at 4:30 a.m. to race. The weather went from beautiful to atrocious—the temperature was dropping rapidly, the wind started kicking up and the water was so turbulent they changed the swim from 1.2 miles to 1,000m.
“It got to the point where, on my bike, I literally couldn’t squeeze my hand together to reach for my water bottle,” Arnett says. To add to his misery, he also took a tumble on the pavement during the run.
“It was honestly the worst half-Ironman I’ve done since my first one,” Arnett says. “The experience was awesome, but time-wise I was really disappointed.” Although he’s normally a 4:30 finisher and has qualified for the 70.3 world championship in Clearwater, Fla., three times, he wound up 56th place in the 35–39 age group in 5:06:29.
His girlfriend, Jessica, forced him to go to the roll-down ceremony. “I thought, ‘There’s no way this is rolling down,’” he says. “But after the 20th name, [announcer] Mike Reilly said, ‘Are there any males 35–39 that want to go to Vegas?’” He and two others raised their hands, and he nabbed the spot (he beat the third volunteer by 10 seconds).
The takeaway: “Always show up for the roll-down,” Arnett says. “Crazy things can happen.”