Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Surprising Day of Perseverance and Stamina

Saturday, May 1, was a surprising day. We were glad we stayed a couple of extra days in St. George, Utah.  At first, they told us at the Elks Lodge that we would have to leave on Friday because the roads surrounding the lodge would be closed all day on Saturday.  But when we asked further, there was no issue if we didn’t mind the inconvenience.  Well, we stayed and even had company of other rvers.  Red Hills Pkway, St. George, UT The reason for all the hoopla in St. George was the Ironman competition.  The city went all out to host the 1915 athletes from 30 countries who swam 2.4 miles, bicycled 112 miles and ran 26 miles – all in one day. The photo here is an example of a part of the course along the Red Hills Parkway. 

Jerry and I had heard of this event but were interested to see one close up.  Our vantage point was at the “crossover” point for the run, just down the hill from our home at the Elks.  We met our neighbors, one couple just stopping through as we were, one couple in town to visit friends and the two others cheering on their son/nephew.  When we set up our chairs we thought maybe we’d watch for 30 minutes or so, just to see a few of the competitors.   Winner passes us, way out front! Soon we had an “unofficial welcome station,” rooting for these determined folks who came passing by us at four separate intervals in their marathon. Here’s a photo of the winner running up to greet us. (LOL)

It was surprising to see the tremendous diversity of the participants.  They were of every age, size, build and stride.  Of course there were the expected young, muscled body builder or runner’s physics.  But it was soon obvious that these 1900 people were widely diverse. 

As I said, our vantage point happened to be where the runners came through four times in their 26-mile course.  After watching for a while, everyone started remembering certain athletes and which lap they were on in completing their run. And so the time passed.  We all became more involved in the event than we thought we would. Just watching them persevere. Maybe that happened to the other 9,992 spectators throughout the city, but our tiny segment of the event was isolated for us.  Everyone participating in Ironman became amazing to us, just thinking about the fact that they had already swam over two miles and biked 112 miles before we saw them.  Many were striding at full strength, but all were at least pushing through.  Somehow we started nicknaming certain participants by a trait or piece of clothing or a smile.  For instance, the fellow below came through the first lap with a bloody pad on his neck (biking accident??).  The next time around he was bandaged as below and obviously in pain -- still in the mix. He and his friends walked the rest of the course. He rated the “wounded warrior” label, right?

1.bandaged Wounded Ironman and Team  The Wounded Warrior team – supportive and determined.

The new camera got a workout.  The photos selected for posting here are just a few of the standouts, for whatever reason.  The Ironman winners’ names you can find in many places, if you’re interested.  Any names given here are chosen by our group throughout the five hours that we eventually remained at our station that day. Many of the athletes were totally in a zone, but others communicated or responded to us in some way.  There was the third place female winner that wore a wide smile absolutely through every stride, and Tex, Captain, Navy (and our rver friend, Bud) who were among those who had some fun with us. We saw seniors who were just awesome. Old Fart and Green Socks that gave us a smile, too. And, of course, we didn’t name him, but were inspired by the man with the artificial leg.   These and a few others are in my photo album below.  If you would like to click, you’ll see them all.


It was a surprising day in terms of our enjoyment, but mostly, the participants in this grueling event. See you down the road.

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