Dave and I were in Hawaii and we had front row seats as Craig took the highest prize in our triathlon world. I was doing some work for TSN – our Canadian version of ESPN – and I was able to watch the race unfold. At around 15 or 20 km into the bike ride, Craig yelled out to me on the side of the road, “Hey Lisa”. That is typical Crowie – down to earth and very social – even while racing. A bit further along, we were excited to see him right in the thick of things and we cheered for him and he said, “the race hasn’t started yet”. He said with almost a devilish streak as if to say, “don’t cheer yet – we haven’t rolled up our sleeves yet.” About 40 km from the end of the bike ride, Crowie was working hard – yes the race had begun and he was now ‘at the office and doing his job’. Out onto the run, I was so excited to see him running so light on his feet and with an ease which I had seen when we trained together. By 14 km, it wasn’t a question of “if” but “when” he would take the lead. But the realization that our dear Aussie mate had won triathlon’s prized possession did not come until Dave and I saw him cross the finish line. Dave and I were both teary eyed and overwhelmed with a happiness that you feel when someone dear to you has had a wonderful day. Over the past few years, Craig has become our dear friend, my training partner and Dave’s sport fanatic ESPN watching buddy. I was honored to interview Crowie on behalf of TSN – the caring friend in me wanted to give him space but I knew I had to get a comment. I was a blubbering fool – I don’t remember what I even asked him – I didn’t want to ask him about his day because I never like those ambiguous questions – I think I called him ‘beautiful’ about 100 times before I finally asked anything of note.
Craig Alexander is the Ironman World Champion. He is the most gifted athlete and the most unselfish athlete I have ever met. He usually travels with his wife, Neri and his daughter, Lucy. They are his life and he refuses to prioritize triathlon over his family. He tries to get his training done so that he can spend a large chunk of time with his family in the afternoon. Crowie came to Hawaii with me in 2006, as my Tri Dubai teammate, to help me prepare for the World Championships. Meanwhile, he was preparing for the 70.3 World Championships a month later. Every day, he trained with me and pushed me to get that last 1-2% out of each workout. When we swam, he swam with a band around his ankles so that he could go my speed. When we biked, he would ride with me and then supplement his training with some tough computrainer intervals after the fact. For running speed work, I would get a head start and for long runs, he pushed me to run 4 min/km pace. We would train hard and then by afternoon, he was in the pool with his daughter Lucy and wife Neri. But he gave his time and effort to me for my race even though he had to prepare for his race. That is a special gift that is rare in our sport.
Craig is the most refreshing athlete – he is the honest athlete – he is our best ambassador for Ironman. I am so proud that he has raced in Canada and won both the Subaru Muskoka Chase and the Subaru Ironman Muskoka 70.3. I think that makes him an Aussie Canadian in which case, I think we can say that a little bit of Canada was on the podium in the Hawaii Ironman 2008.
Way to go Crowie – from all of your Canadian fans! And way to go Neri and Lucy. Craig could not have trained and raced and won without you!