Sunday, May 1, 2011

St. Anthony's Triathlon

"If you have dedication, and pride, and never quit, you'll be a winner.
The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards."
- Paul "Bear" Bryant


Thousands gathered near the start line, saying good morning to the rising sun as it peeked over the horizon. They have been up for hours, noting the last minute alterations due to the weather. The wind caused a lot of headaches and changes, yet everyone’s spirits were high. The determination gleaming from their faces said that they wouldn’t let anything get in the way of their goal.

2 minutes until race time.

The professional athletes took their places, staring 100 meters in front of them- the orange glow reflecting on the waves, beckoning them to enter its cool grasp.

The horn sounds!

Dozens of men sprint, dive, swim, then disappear, becoming nothing more than faint splashes as they make their way through the salt water.

The women start 2 minutes later, sprinting into the bay.

Wave after wave begins. Hundreds splash their way through the water, around the turns, and to the shore.

After 1.5K, the swimmers crawl their way out of the water, gather their steps, and start running toward the transition area, clearly spent by the grueling swim, but their race is now in full swing.

They grab their bikes, and some more gracefully than others (a few near face plants occurred) mount them and pedal around the corner and through the 40K course.

As the sky brightens and the day gets hotter and hotter, the athletes dismount their bikes and start the final stretch of their race – a 10K run.

Step after step, they get closer. And closer. And finally, they take the final turn. Some are so spent that they can hardly jog across the finish line. Others sprint past everyone else, giving everything they have to the final 100m of the race. Agony. Smiles. Exhaustion. Joy. If you want to see raw emotions at their finest, look no further than the finish line of a race.

Not a bad way to start my day - watching all of this unfold.

It made it more fun knowing somebody in the race. Thanks to Lauren for being in inspiration in everything she does! And a shoutout to my friend Shannon who made the trek from Miami to help work the race.

Top 3 from Saint Anthony’s Marathon

3. Team Shake n bake – these 5 or so incredibly obnoxious guys wearing mullet wigs and dressed in American flag robes made their way to the starting line, screaming, shouting, and pumping up the crowd. Hilarity ensued for another few minutes before they started their races. It turns out they were running in support of and raising money for the fallen officers that we had in our community just a few months ago. Way to go, guys!

2. A man rounding the final turn, running toward the finish line with one last burst of energy, with his four year old daughter sprinting by his side, hand in hand.

1. The numerous athletes competing in the “physically challenged” category. This really hit me as I saw them finish their swims and come out of the water. The most vivid was a man who had both legs and an arm amputated. As he came out of the water, his family had to jump in, carry him to a chair, put his legs on, and then off he went. I don’t know if I have ever felt as much inspiration. The thunderous applause and standing ovations as several amputees crossed the finish line is enough to give anyone chills.

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