Many people have asked me why do IM events, when they have resulted in interesting physical issues (shingles and bruised bladder-so far) and are hard as shit and pretty much take up your life. The answer for me, was standing at the finish line for a time between 11 pm and midnight, watching and cheering my lungs out for the finishing athletes at the back of the pack.
I have been to 4 previous IM events, participating in 2 of the 4, but I had not been at the finish for the last hour. It was amazing, moving and motivating. I stood along one side of the finish chute, pounding on the placards that line it, keeping time with hundreds of other people, singing, shouting encouragement and mentally willing each athlete across that line. It was crazy and beautiful. Earlier finishers lined up with the families of those still out on the course and volunteers and others that were simply spectators and cheered and screamed and pounded along with the music as the athletes turned the corner and ran, walked, staggered, danced, hopped, skipped and jumped through the final few yards to complete their 140.6 mile journey.
There were the happy finishers, taking the time to hand slap on their way to the finish. There were the serious ones, whose determination clearly carried them across. There was the very tall and thin man who, with a slightly vacant look, somehow walked across, swaying from side to side, with a medical person beside him. One fellow stopped to mime out Y-M-C-A in time with the song on his way across. Family members cried as their athlete crossed, tears of joy and relief. I got choked up a few times, watching it all unfold, as the clock ticked closer to midnight.
I hear that the last person had some 16 seconds to spare. I wasn't there, but I am sure her last few yards were the most memorable.
Congradulations to everyone who completed that journey in Florida on Saturday, especially to Molly, Mary, Tim and Sarah, the Ricks and the Todd, Jill, Jackie and Trish. You are all an IronMan!