At the Bud Light Ironman, it's not whether you win or lose, it's ``Did you finish the triathlon?''
"I've never done anything where completing the thing was such a big thrill," said Lawrence optometrist Kent Dobbins, who returned late Tuesday from Hawaii where he competed in the grueling event. "Normally, when you compete, you want the first-place trophy or medal. Here you're hoping you're able to get a T-shirt that says `I finished.'''
Dobbins completed the 2.4 mile ocean swim, 112-mile bike race and 26.2 mile run in 15 hours two hours under the maximum cutoff time of 17 hours.
"I was fortunate in that I sat with a couple of pro triathletes," said Dobbins. "I heard 'em talk about various things. One guy said, `Have you ever competed in a triathlon this long?' I said `No.' He said `I'll tell you something. Plan on doing it in 17 hours. If you don't, because of the excitement and emotion, you'll get carried away.'
"CLARK CAMPBELL, my coach here in town, told me the same thing. He was gearing me to finish. I finished the swim well and started out on the bike. I was passing people, my time was good so I pushed harder. At one of the water aid stations, I grabbed a bottle and knocked the air pump off my bike. When I got off, my right hamstring cramped.
"I was not drinking enough water. At that point, I stopped and realized they were right. I had to slow down. My main goal was to finish."
To finish was exciting.
"They say it was the most brutal conditions in years," said Dobbins, 46. "The winds were 25-35 miles an hour in your face during the bike race. After that, you got off the bike and you're legs were dead for the marathon.
"When you finish, it's a big deal, Even the top athletes stay and cheer you. Not everybody finished, which is a shame. The cutoff is 17 hours. The last guy to finish did it in 16 hours, 59 minutes and 57 seconds. He beat it by three seconds. Two were at 17 hours and one or two minutes. The rest were far back."
Yes Dobbins wants to try it again.
"But not next year," he said. "I'll probably compete in one closer to home."