Almost all the focus at Ironman Wisconsin this past Sunday was on the 2,000-plus athletes who started the triathlon. This is reasonable. From the top pros to those amateurs who struggle to beat the midnight cutoff, swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 and running a complete marathon is quite an undertaking -- both in terms of accomplishing such a goal and of all the preparations that go into it. Families, friends and fans lining the course take an understandable interest in the parade of endurance and perseverance. Completing an Ironman is an accomplishment most of us can only marvel at.
But after observing the sport for a quarter century, and Ironman Wisconsin through its first six years, I got to wondering: What sorts of things might you see if you turned your attention from the athletes to the milieu that surrounds them? Taking inspiration from Garfield Minus Garfield, the comic strip that erases the cat from the original comic panels, I turned my camera on Ironman Wisconsin minus the Ironmen and Ironwomen in the race (Click the "gallery" tab at the bottom right of the above photo). In doing so, I found ample evidence of their existence in images such as the impressive collection of goggles and footwear at the event's lost and found, the T-shirts worn by some athletes' support crews, hand-made signs bearing messages of encouragement and affection, and the thousands of high-end triathlon bikes lined up in the transition zone at Monona Terrace Convention and Community Center.
Even without more than 2,000 Ironmen and Ironwomen, the seventh edition of Ironman Wisconsin proved quite a spectacle.