There has been an Ironman Triathalon in Coeur D'Alene for the past nine years... athletes from all over the world come to do a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run.
For the last two years, we've gone over to volunteer. Kyler's cross country team runs an aid station out on the bike ride... at mile 40 and mile 90. (The bikers loop through the 56 mile course twice.)
It's a SUPER inspiring way to spend a day... I never cease to be amazed at the people who put their bodies through months and months of training to compete in an Ironman. All the way from the top professional who will complete the entire thing in around 8 hours to folks who will barely make it to the cut off time at midnight.
We worked the aid station from 6:00 am (preparing for the arrival of the athletes around 8:00... cutting bananas in half, opening gatorade bottles...) until about 2:00, then we went downtown to watch and wait for our friend Wade who was competing.
There's a LOT of waiting for the Ironman spectators... it was a beautiful day, and Coeur D'Alene is a beautiful city with lots of lovely park space... so we sat and visited and people watched... and continued to be amazed at the thousands of athletes passing by us all afternoon.
My favorite thing about volunteering at Ironman are the interactions you can have with the athletes... I was on sunscreen duty, so I got to talk to everyone who needed more sunscreen... as I slathered them up I would ask how they were feeling... get little tidbits of who they are... encourage them... it's such a cool experience.
My favorite part of working this year: the gentleman who was part of a team that trains together all year long and who got off his bike and waited at our aid station until every one of his teammates made it that far - and then got on and rode off with the slowest one. He waited nearly two hours for her. She had a really rough swim, apparently, but made it to the mile 40 mark on the ride. I left the aid station before I saw them come through the second time... so I don't know if they made the cut off time to be able to continue onto the marathon portion of the event. I suspect they didn't. But I admired this man so much for being willing to sacrifice his own time and ability to finish for the good of another team mate.
This was Wade's first Ironman.
He finished in 11:55.
And we were all there cheering and yelling him across the finish line...
I think he's crazy. Who chooses to do that to their body?
But he's a good kind of crazy. And a great friend. It was a privilege to be there for him...
We were all exhausted at the end of the day... up early, on our feet all day, in the hot sun, busy scanning the crowds for Wade's black and red outfit... but not one of us complained. How could we when we compared our tiredness with the tiredness of the people who had just completed such a rigorous event?
I'll take my achy back and my tired feet...
And I'll leave the complaining to the amazing people who pushed their bodies to the edge.