I was a little busy, so the photo credits here go to others (Stacy Humphries and the photo service FinisherPix).
One of my best friends is Australian. You’d never know it, though. He moved to Texas in his youth and has no hint of an accent. Even so – and because of those Aussie roots — Scott had my and Shane Merz’s full proxy when it came time to select which Australian Ironman site we would do this year. He picked Cairns, a small city on Australia’s northeast Queensland coast and a primary gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. As race day approached and the weather forecasts continued to say “Rain” every day, the phrase “Who picked this?” became a regular refrain.
If you read this blog regularly, you may remember that my friends and I have set a goal – a “quest” — to do an Ironman Triathlon (swim 2.4 miles; bike 112 miles; then run 26 miles) on every continent. Australia was our fourth, and fortunately there was less trauma (i.e., no hospitalization required) compared to our European leg. Though Cairns had promised to be sunny and tropical, on race day Down Under there was never a moment that it was not raining. The ocean swim was rough enough to make me a little seasick (and the Ironman ‘crowd’ was rough enough to give me a black eye in the first ten minutes of the swim). But we all finished just fine; in fact, the other guys each had personal bests.
We’d debated for months exactly how to pronounce “Cairns.” When you hear the local Aussies say it, the name sounds like those metal containers for soup (“cans”). So arguably the “r” is silent – but not really. They think they ARE prounouncing the “r.” Australians describe a malt-based lager as “bee-uh” and an automobile as a “cah”, and in the same way, Cairns sounds like “Cans.” But just as a visitor to Boston should not adopt an affected New England accent to discuss the clam “chow-dah” he ate in “Hah-vud” Square, neither should an American in Cairns pretend to pronounce the place “Cans” like the locals do. So it’s Cairns – with an R.