Some inspiration from the Ironman Kona

This afternoon the 2007 Ironman coverage was featured on NBC. I don’t follow triathlons really, so I had no idea who won – I just love watching the race coverage. One thing I love about the coverage is that it doesn’t end when the winners cross the finish line. In fact, they profile some regular people (well, regular except that they are ridiculously strong and tough enough to do the Ironman) as they struggle to meet the midnight deadline for finishers.

When people who don’t run (or tri) hear about races, they think it’s about winning. As a mid-packer, it’s definitely not about winning for me – it’s about doing my best and finishing. Most race coverage tends to kind of ignore that. Just because you’re not in the top 10 doesn’t mean you’re a loser – it still means you could be as proud as anyone of how you did. I was near tears after finishing my first half-marathon, because I couldn’t believe I had run that far. Yet for some runners, a half-marathon is no big deal. Different perspectives, but I love hearing the stories that remind me of myself.

Chrissie Wellington, this year’s winner, started running in 2002 as a way to lose weight she had gained while traveling. Now granted, she did much better than I could probably ever hope to do: she did her first marathon that year in 3:08. Still, I love her humble beginnings as someone just looking to drop a few pounds.

Profiling someone further back in the race: “I never train as much as anyone else… I’m lazy,” says Lolly Rodgers. Yet – doing the Ironman – obviously not that lazy! Lolly won her age group (65-69), and had a smart mouth that provided a bit of humor amidst all the other teary inspirational stories. “I’m pretty beat up… but I’ll make it. I’m a glutton for punishment. Next year I’ll be in better shape though!” I love that she does what I do – thinks about future races even while still working on the current one.

The part about John Blais made me cry. John had Lou Gehrig’s disease, and in 2005, he was determined to complete the race “if they had to roll him across the finish line.” He did it – and when he got to the finish, he laid down and rolled himself across the line. Last year, he came to the race but was unable to even walk – he just came to watch and say goodbye to his beloved race. He died last year, but runners today still roll themselves across the finish in his memory.

I cried quite a bit – basically anytime anyone crossed the finish line. I want to go to Kona badly. I’m not going to delude myself into thinking I can actually compete in the Ironman, but someday I want to take a vacation there and just cheer people on at the finish. I don’t think I could ever get tired of the smiles and tears of joy as people finish and reach their dreams :)


  1. I’m so bummed, I forgot that aired today :-(. I watched the 2005 competition with John Blais and remember that scene as perfectly as it can be remembered when viewed through blurring tears. That was also the year Sarah Reinertsen finished. She’s an above the knee amputee and my inspiration to get active. There is something moving about the Ironman :-). Super cool post mate!

  2. I missed it too. But I am in Kona right this minute. I went for a run out on the highway and thought about the ironman atheletes.

  3. A couple of years ago, I went to Lake Placid to cheer on some of my teammates that were participating in the Ironman. I was definitely in awe of all those athletes, plus it was amazing how the whole town really came together and provided such great support for the athletes. We saw the male winner break the tape, saw most of our teammates come in around the 11-13 hour range, and then came back to the finish line later to see the late finishers, to scream our lungs out for those to make it in before the cutoff…there was one who crossed one minute after the cutoff-was counted as a DNF but the announcer said he/she “was an Ironman in all our hearts.” Still broke my heart to see, as well as those I saw still out on the run course after midnight :(

    Don’t know if I could ever accomplish something as crazy as that-but was very inspiring to watch :) And just so much fun too.

  4. aww what an awesome blog! How inspiring! Good luck on the 14 miler!

  5. I loved the IM. It was a great show and so inspirational!

  6. I love watching ironman races. I went and cheered for two of my friends (both Cornell alum) compete in Lake Placid 2006, and then watched them in Coeer D’Alene this year on tv – if you ever get a chance to go to one, the atmosphere is amazing. It’s great to be around so many people that are just proud to see everyone (not just their friends) doing it. I love hearing the announcer say “[person’s name] you are an Ironman!”

    When I came back from Placid, I found out that my boss had done Placid a few years ago, and talking to me got him thinking about doing Wisconsin that year. He kept urging me to do one – he said do a marathon, then do an ironman a year later. One of my friends that did Placid had never run more than a half marathon (though he said that was dumb, and he ran a lot more for the next one!).

    Anyway, the result of the rambling is though I’ve been tempted and never carried through with it myself, people I know that have done it say it is totally approachable. You just need the time and desire to do it (and they say just sign up for it – the $ required to sign up is also a driver to complete).

    Good luck training for your marathon!

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