Mike Reilly Ironman


Mike caught up with Phil Wrochna  from firstoffthebike.com to talk about his love for announcing and his experiences behind the microphone at races. See the full article at http://firstoffthebike.com/triathletes/triathlon-interviews/behind-the-mic-mike-reilly/

He’s the global voice we all know at many ironman races. Mike Reilly is as chilled away from the mic as he is on it. A genuine man with a love for the Ironman community Mike is always fun to talk to about the thing he does best, calling Ironman.

What was your pathway to commentary?
I didn’t really have a pathway to getting on the microphone at endurance events, it more or less just happened.  I liked to public speak and was always attending groups like professional toastmasters to keep developing the craft.  Plus when you public speak you can’t suck, there is no second take like on TV, you have to nail it the first time.  When I was injured not able to run a 10k race here in San Diego (was an avid runner) in the late 70’s I still attended to watch friends. Low and behold the race director saw me and said since you’re not running get on the microphone and call everyone to the finish. Seeing the reaction of people finishing when I called their names and told them they were winners was very special, it sealed the deal for me!

What do you love about it?
I love everything about it, the preparation, the travel, seeing old friends, visiting places people dream about, being with the athletes and watching them achieve their dreams, and then being a part of a finish line party that lasts into the night.  How can you not love that!
What do you hate about it?
I don’t hate anything.  One thing I don’t like is a finisher sprinting down the chute that blocks someone else’s finish, especially that testosterone filled guy that sprints in front of a female finisher.
At hour 15 how hard is it to find your happy place?
The happy place is easy to find at 15 hours, its at about the 12 to 13 hour mark it is tougher.  A lot of the crowd thins out to go to eat then come back.  Plus sometimes in my head I’ll go okay we have 6 more hours to go which is stupid to do.  So my goal is to just go hour by hour and treat each hour like it is my last and always remember the athlete is hearing us at the finish line for the first time, make it count!
What has been the weirdest thing you have ever seen whilst calling a race ?
People always ask me that but not one particular thing quickly comes to mind.  I do remember an Ironman finisher carrying a little dog across the line!  Speaking of dogs, at Ironman Arizona a few years ago a Border Collie came running down the chute all by himself like he owned the finish line, there was no one finishing just the dog.  So I called Bow Wow an IronDog, the crew put a medal around his neck and draped a T-shirt over him.  I said now that finisher had a tough day and looked like a dog, it got a few laughs.
I also had a male finisher coming down the chute and just before the finish turned around.  I could tell the dude was about to pull his pants down and moon everyone, so very loud on the speaker system I said if you do it you’ll be DQ’d for life (which was BS but had to stop him somehow)!  He froze and you could tell he thought about it, but luckily he didn’t do it and turned around and ran in. 

What has brought you a lot of emotion during an event?
My emotion during an event is always up. But when a finisher comes in that I am close to like a friend or relative or a person where I know their story of struggle just getting to the start line let alone the finish – it raises my emotion every time.
Top 3 athletes you have ever seen from the comms tower?
Wow only 3 that is a tough question.  I never got to call in Dave Scott as a winner but bringing him in at 2nd place in 1994 at 40 yrs old was amazing.  Paula Newby Fraser was always and still is my top when it comes to finishes, she every year gave more than the year before.  Watching Greg Welch be the first non-American to win Kona was actually very special, all of us close to the sport knew that would open up the world’s door to Kona, which it did.  Another one was Chrissie Wellington’s first Kona win in 2007.  No one really knew who she was and she destroyed an amazing field.
Do finish chute marriage proposals make you cringe?
Ha ha asking that question they must make you cringe!  I like them especially if they don’t interfere with other finishers.  Most of them are done behind the finish which is great but some are done before finish.  It is actually fun to watch (usually the woman) reaction when the sweaty guy gets on his knees.  You get every reaction from WTF are you doing to laughing hysterically. I’ve never had anyone say No yet but have had a few hesitations, which makes for a good tense moment.
Thanks Phil for asking me to be a part of this.



“Voice of Ironman” Mike Reilly Shares His Learnings as a Long Standing Leader in the Endurance Sports Industry

Mike Reilly is best known as the Voice of Ironman. Tens of thousands of ironman finishers around the world have heard his famous phrase “You are an Ironman” as they crossed the finish line. He was inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame in 2011, is a founding member of the industry organization Triathlon Business International, and committee member and host of the Running USA National Conference and more.

What you may not know is Mike has had a very successful career of over 30 years in the endurance sports industry. Hear about some of his learnings, challenges and words of wisdom as a long standing leader in the running, cycling and triathlon industry.

Listen to the podcast HERE

Kona Ironman Lottery Phone Call to Allysin Bridges

The Ironman Lottery is a coveted way to go to Kona from all over the world.  Before athletes were notified publicly I had the chance to call 10 lucky winners and tell them in person.  The reactions were anywhere from crazy screaming to “hey, am I getting punked”? Here is a lucky Allysin Bridges and her reaction….



One Hundred Ironmans: Mike Reilly Reflects

The “Voice of Ironman” completed his 100th race on March 5th
Written by Mike Reilly on Thursday, April 7, 2011

The finish-line tower at Ironman New Zealand


One hundred. It may only be a number, but 100 is a pretty interesting one. One hundred miles per hour, 100 home runs, $100, 100 years, 100 miles, and yes, 100 Ironmans. Over the last few months I’ve been asked many times what it will mean to be on the microphone at my 100th Ironman. Now that I’ve put it in the books at Ironman New Zealand, how do I put it into words?  It’s as simple as “I can’t believe it’s been 100,” to more complicated: “Does this mean I’m starting all over again at 101?”

About five years ago, Casey Cortese from Janus prompted me to count up all the times I’ve announced at the finish line of an Ironman. So we did—on a bar napkin at an after party. Thus, the counting began. It also prompted me to start a log of what each race meant to me and what impressions I came away with.

All those trips, all those days away from home and family, all those finish lines have been worth it.

The first thing I need to do is give a huge thanks to all my family and friends, and the triathletes who sent me well wishes. It’s pretty amazing and daunting what came my way. I was asked to write about this experience and of all the Ironmans I’ve been involved with. This one was very unique. To me it’s not about me but the athletes and the event, so when videos were played and speeches given about me it was a bit uncomfortable, but gratifying, none the less. Jane Patterson and Janette Blyth with Ironman New Zealand are two very special people in my life and they honored me in every way for my 100th, something I will never forget.

Mike (right) with Ironman CEO Ben Fertic at a race in 2008

Taupo New Zealand is billed as the sports event capital of the country, and from what I’ve seen, it is. You can do everything from bungie jumping to soaking in a hot springs waterfall on the Whikato River. But on March 5, race day, Taupo was the water capital of the world. It rained solid the entire 17 hours of the event. Talk about bringing you back to reality. One athlete told me the driest he was all day was during the swim! Now here is the amazing part: As we were pushing through the day I was thinking that the DNF rate was going to be pretty high.  A couple of other wet days I remembered were in Lake Placid and Wisconsin where it never let up. The finishing rate from what I recalled was in the 88 to 91 percent range—and maybe even lower. As the day went on in Taupo, I thought surely we’d be in the same range. When the timer gave me the start and finish numbers I thought to myself, “no way.” So I did the numbers and confirmed that the triathletes here from New Zealand and Australia (542), the U.S. (84) and other countries (37), were one tough bunch. Ninety-six percent came across the finish line wet on the outside but with strong warm hearts on the inside. Amazing!

This one, my 100th, confirmed to me to never take anything for granted, and to always live in the day and make sure you cherish it.  No matter how tough things may seem, especially at an Ironman, you will leave with lasting positive memories. I’m always asked which Ironmans are my favorites, which ones I remember most. This list is pretty extensive believe it or not, but now there will be one more answer. The 2011 Ironman New Zealand will go down as one of my most cherished. Not for the reason you may think but because my wife Rose and our best friends Alan and Dena Rea were there with me to celebrate. The number 100 wouldn’t have meant nearly as much if they hadn’t been in Taupo with me. Spending 12 days on holiday with them all—something I’d never done after an Ironman—ended up making it the trip of a lifetime.

All those trips, all those days away from home and family, all those finish lines have been worth it only because of the support I’ve received from Rose and my kids. So my thank you is to them and the congratulations you’ve all sent my way, as humbling as they are, should be directed to my family. Without their support my enthusiasm and passion for all of you at the finish line might not have been possible.

So yes, the 100th was very special, but not because of the milestone itself but because of the support and love that enabled me to do it. The best part for me is now looking forward to Ironman Australia on May 1. I can’t wait to get there and do it all over again like it’s the first time. After all, it’s number one of the next 100!