"Hardest Swim/Bike combination in the history of the Ironman!!!"
"Hands down... that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life." -- Ben Hoffman, overall champion
"That was a day out there, let me tell you. The swim, I thought I was going to end up on an episode of ‘Lost.’ I felt like I was in a washing machine. The wind made it dangerous, people were panicked for much of the swim." -- Meredith Kesler, woman's champion
"I got out because I didn’t want to die. Is it unsafe? Omigosh, yes ... It was like being in the middle of the ocean. The whitecaps were so bad I thought it was raining." -- Linda Walters, 51, of San Diego.
"It took all I had just to keep from going backwards. It was like swimming in molasses." -- John Anderson, 50, of Highlands, who dropped out after swimming about 3/4 of a mile
The winds were not in the weather forecast. A breeze of 5-9 mph was all that was projected, but what we battled was six foot waves from sustained forty mph winds for a long time. I ended my tumble wash cycle at 1:25:00; 15 minutes behind my scheduled exit from the water.
"The descents on the bike were treacherous. The eventual winner nearly got blown off his bike and had to clip out to keep his balance. The 40mph winds that were headwinds during the backstretch were cross winds during descents. It was essentially the worst of all possibilities." -- John McPheron, 24, Manhattan Beach
"By the time I made it to the “The Wall” I had been sucking down headwinds for 55 miles, often at single-digit miles-per-hour. The Wall’s switchback introduced me to the course’s first tailwind. Though it is one of the steepest grades on the course, my speedometer suddenly jumped back into the double digits!" -- Kendra Geffredo, 32, Washington DC
"After awhile I think our motivation took a hit. It was no fun. I enjoy the speed on the bike and there was no speed!" -- Maic Twelsiek, 32, mens runner-up
The bike was no better. We worked hard. We worked hard for a very long time to break our paths through the invisible walls of wind. Sand blew heavily across our legs, bodies, faces, and every square inch of the landscape. The easiest section of the first 70 miles was the 9.5% mile long uphill! Was a relief it was to climb so effortlessly. The downhills coming back into St George was downright scary. The tail winds rocketed me into areo-barred speed wobbles that literally had me crying in the dry winds and fearing for my life. I was much more cautious on my second lap and rolled excitedly past my cheering family as I prepared for the second transition. The easiest part of the day, a 26.2 mile run, was yet to come.
"The run in St. George was way better. We were running in the middle of the town so we were protected from the wind, and I think the wind was getting less as the day went on anyways. The wind was not an issue on the run." -- Twelseik
"On my second loop, I caught up to Jess Smith, newly turned pro racing her first professional Ironman. As she walked up the hill, I asked her to run with me. She gave it her best effort for a few steps, thanked me for the encouragement, and sent me on my way. She never crossed the finish line that day. St. George was a war zone and she was one of its many casualties." -- Geffredo
...and run I did!! The gently sloping course forked through the southwestern style Mormon neighborhoods of downtown St George. Rarely there was a flat portion to enjoy and the heat was sustained in the upper 80's. The crowd's support was amazing and we pushed long and hard. At day's end, I had shaved an hour off my last IM run time and finished my marathon run with a time of 4:22.
With a record-breaking 29% DNF (did not finish) rate (compared to 19% in 2011), Ironman St. George remains at the top of RunTri's Toughest Ironman Course list (though Ironman South Africa's conditions and 13:43 time rivaled SG this year). Of the 1432 starters, only 1024 finished. The frustratingly choppy water forced 6% of starters to DNF; wind gusts up to 40 mph forced another 19% to DNF on the bike, and finally, another 4% did not complete the run.