Video of my day at Ironman (if you can't see it, try clicking HERE).

Wow, WHAT A WEEKEND!!!! It's amazing to see our community buzzing like never before. I have talkd to person after person who were literally moved by the event. The St. George marathon has always had that effect on St. George, but never quite like this.

Volunteers and "Dixie Spirit" were the glue

My theory on the raging success of they day is this: Volunteers + "Dixie Spirit" = indescribable community synergy.

Alot of (negative) people want to brush off "Dixie Spirit" as something of the past and often focus on the connotations of the "Dixie" of the deep South. We're talking about the "South" of Utah - St. George, which got the nickname hundreds of years ago when Pioneer Settlers left the Salt Lake Valley to head far south and begin harvesting cotton.

The St. George energy and spirit is palpable and quite frankly, indescribable. It just...."is" and very few communities enjoy something like it. It's what causes thousands of people to show up in town for a vacation, marathon or golf trip and say, "we better move there!"

The Ironman St. George event required nearly 4000 volunteers and their the Ironman volunteer recruitment effort was different than anything we've ever seen before.

What they did was recruited sector "Captains" for each area, aid station and segment of the race. For example, I was over the "wetsuite peeling" crew at transition #1, someone else was over the men's change tent, someone the womens, etc. 

Those individual Captains were in charge of recruiting their needed # of volunteers - 20, 60, 40, whatever the #. So, when race day came, volunteer director Colby "Bags" Neilson (who was incredible by the way), was able to actually smile and enjoy the event because instead of worrying if 4000 volunteers were showing up, he simply had to ensure that is Captains showed up, who ensured that the others showed up.

The other benefit of this system was extreme loyalty. A good percentage of the Ironman volunteers knew their Captain personally and thus took greater ownership in showing up and doing a good job. It's brilliant!

Regarding the Ironman St. George volunteers, Paul Huddle, former professional Triathlete and Event Director told me in an email after, "We need to clone all the volunteers here and take them on the road."

They told us off the record that they had NEVER seen such a great volunteer effort. That speaks volumes about Utah's Dixie and the people of our great community.

I rec'd this message from a buddy after the race when I asked him how his volunteering effort went: "I will never forget that day, from life guarding on the finish dock and seeing every swimming come through and do everything you can you encourage them to the finish and then to top it off helping them at the end.  I didn’t want it to end, to be able to share that time with them right after what they had gone through was truly amazing.  To see how thankful each finisher was of all the help through out the race was great and how they couldn’t have done it with out all the support."

Who really won?

The winners of the race were Michael Weiss of Austria in 08:40:08, and Heather Wurtele of Canada in 09:35:25 That is FAST. SICK fast. I had the chance to talk with Weiss on two occasions and he is a class act. When my kids wanted a picture with him after the victory he threw my 5-year old right on his knee!

From what I read and hear about Heather Wurtele, she seems just as classy he. Congratulations to the two of them for their amazing victories.

But the REAL winners of the innaugural Ironman St. George are the volunteers, directors, city officials and staff who all combined efforts, manpower and brain power to put together a world class event that wil have people talking about our area for generations to come.

Congratulations Ironmen, local race and volunteer directors Jeff Gardner and Colby Neilson, and all of Washington County for an incredible event. I can't wait for next year either!

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