You need to get that number changed, an Ironman worker half teased, using a grease pencil to write Sean Gillan’s participant number on his bicep and leg.
Gillan was assigned number 666, the unpopular number often called the “mark of the beast,” a bad omen.
The Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains was his first ever triathlon. Before Sunday’s event, Gillan, 20 trained daily for three months near his home in Somerset, N.J.
During the swimming portion at the start of the event, Gillan realized he made a mistake in his apparel choice.
The one piece tank top and biker shorts suit was not enough protection from the chilly water in Taminent Lake in Bushkill.
Grateful to get out of the cold water, Gillan got out of the water and onto his classic green Bianchi bike made in the 1980s.
Things went all right for a while, but then Gillan noticed that he was spinning the peddles and not getting anywhere.
The gears were not engaging properly so the back wheel would not turn to propel him forward.
All he could do was coast down hills and would have had to walk his bike up hill.
Gillan stopped at bike comfort station number one, on Route 209 in Dingmans Ferry, Bike route mile 15, and tried to solve the problem, but couldn’t.
He was done for the day.
“I learned a lot,” Gillan said. Next time, he will have a wetsuit for the swim. And probably a different number.
He could have crossed his arms, stomped a foot and pouted at the bad luck.
Folks would have understood.
But while waiting for a ride off the course, Gillan cheered on other participants and helped run the comfort station with a genuine smile.
Those who met him said, with his positive response to a disappointment, Gillan left the Ironman a winner.