By,

Lizz Bennett

                                                   A leg waiting for its' athlete in T1

Kathryn crashed 2 days before her Ironman race. We aren’t sure what happened, but somewhere along the course she blacked out and woke up to some serious road rash, a broken helmet, and a broken bike saddle. There were 1800 other athletes in St. George that weekend so finding a bike seat that would work was impossible. Luckily a friend was driving down from Salt Lake, where Wasatch Bicycle had her seat and we were able to get it to her the Friday before the race, just in time for her to find out that her seat stem was bent and the new saddle would remain crooked unless we could find a replacement stem. Kathryn claimed that if all else failed, she would ride a crooked saddle for 112 miles.

 

                                             Just a glimpse of "Hacksaw" Throolin's roadrash 

Friday all athletes are to check their bikes into T1 and drop off all their gear bags. After calling every bike shop in the state and talking through every option, Kathryn’s plan came together at the last minute. This would involve a new stem, a hacksaw, and a good eye.  Another friend was able to drive a new bike stem down from Salt Lake, we were able to locate the right kind of hacksaw, and because her bike was already in T1, Kathryn woke up at 4am on race morning to head to the race start with more to do then just get her wetsuit on.  Luckily she was able to attach the stem and saddle without having to saw any parts off, and do her best to get her seat just right, before she headed out to the swim start. Oh…and by the way, we covered the whole left half and upper part of her back, her left calf and elbow in waterproof bandages to prevent the stinging and try to keep out the germs.

10 miles into the bike Kathryn had a flat, yet she still took over an hour off her bike time from the year before. On the run her road rash got a sunburn, yet she still finished 13th in her age group at her 5th Ironman!

Moka had been throwing up and having….let us just say GI distress, for 3 days before Ironman. We had her convinced it was just nerves. But when she started throwing up on the bike, and then throughout the entire marathon, it was obvious she had the stomach flu. Didn’t stop her, just slowed her down a bit. What a battle she had to fight, knowing she was capable of so much more and being prevented from doing her best because of a crappy virus. Just 3 weeks before Moka placed 1st in her age group at the RAGE ½ IM race. We mostly feared for the poor race official if they decided to pull her off the course. Somehow, not surprising having known Moka for a while now, she dug really deep, picked up her pace, and smiled in triumph as she ran across her first Ironman finish line! I was in tears, Wes almost threw up as we screamed with the rest of the thousands of people there!

                                                       Moka and Wes at the finish line

At T1 we saw a transition bag that was lying next to a prosthetic leg. Later on we saw the owner of that leg running the marathon and finishing the hardest IM in the world. During the run a Navy Seal carried a full sized American Flag, every step, every mile of the marathon.  Barbara was competing in her 5th IM and her sister, Molly in her 4rth. They ran the marathon together and finished, together!

                                 Molly and Barbara starting the second half of the marathon

Fatema is now the first woman, from Afghanistan to finish an Ironman. And she did it with power, grace, and a huge smile on her face! Marlene is now an Ironman after having to turn around on the bike and go back into T1 for something she forgot. She made up that time as she powered through the gnarly bike course. The astounding part of this is that she works full-time, is a fantastic wife and mother, and has helped several others train for IMSG.

              Robert, Brooke, Brad, Moka, Marlene, Kathryn, Chris, Fatema, Jen, and Curry

Chris doesn’t really like to run. The first time I met him and asked him why he started doing Ironmans he said, “I was in the locker room and looked at myself naked in the mirror and knew it was time I did something.” You wouldn’t know how much he hated the marathon by how fast he ran it.

Jen took 10 minutes off her projected swim time and got out of the water to finish her 112 mile bike and head out on the run.  This is her strength, she is a runner. Ran Boston.  But stopped to walk with Moka, stopped to talk to Moka’s husband and give him an update, slowed down to wave and smile at all the friends and family that came to cheer her on. It wasn’t about when Jen finished her first Ironman; it was about how she completed it!

                                                  Jen is l-o-v-i-n-g every moment!

Jer was strong in the swim and strong on the bike, but for some reason really struggled at the half way point of the marathon. Maybe it was the extreme heat that day, maybe it was just one of many mental struggles he had to face. Despite it all, he fought the disappointment and finished.

Several athletes had to pull out because of heat stroke or exhaustion. Many of them came back to the finish line to cheer on the other athletes. Several Ironmen were spectators this year and were as dedicated at cheering on the athletes as they are when competing themselves.  One athlete looked like he was in a trance. That is until he heard his wife calling out to him, “I love you! I’m so proud of you.” He finished. One man stopped to kiss his wife and 3 daughters before turning around to run the last half of his marathon.

Curry’s mom flew out from Philly. Woke up at 4 am to get to the swim start, and watched from the finish line for hours and hours in the 90+ degree heat to watch her daughter finish her first IM. Curry seemed to get stronger every mile and her mom was the first person she wanted see at the finish line.

Ironman isn’t just the daunting, athletic tasks.  It isn’t the time cut-offs that must be made in order to just merely continue. It isn’t the glory of the finish line. Ironman is the months and months of planned training, the days and days of balancing work, family, and friends.  It’s the daily fight to fit in a run, it’s the loose change on a bedside table to help purchase a better bike for the next Ironman so that your son doesn’t have to wait for braces this year. It’s the 60 year old man that finished his 100th IM on Saturday and the Grandma that shuffled the entire marathon in purple crocs. It’s the athlete with only 1 leg, the athlete that finishes and stays the rest of the night to cheer on the other athletes. It’s the housewife, the 22 year old college student, the 9-5 working Dad that cycles in his basement before the kids get up for school. Ironman is the celebration of all the hard work, sacrifice, and passion of a sport we all love.

 

      Lining up to get into Sand Hollow Resevoir before the cannon goes off! 

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