I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear as I jogged across the finish line at the Inaugural Boulder Ironman http://www.ironman.com this summer. Earlier in the day, the Ironman staff and volunteers had laid bright red carpet along the 13th Street finish chute and had lined the runners’ path with metal crowd control stanchions. My friend Ann was on the other side of the line, snapping photos as I crossed under the digital clock and celebratory signs.
Thousands of elite athletes, regular athletes and their support teams descended upon Boulder, Colorado that week, all with one thing in mind: get the athlete successfully across the finish line. The 140.6 mile route was the classic Ironman journey of pain: 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, and 26.2 miles (yes, a full marathon!) of running.
The morning had started early for me: the swim start line was not too far from where I lived, and a man’s voice over the loudspeaker traveled across the Boulder Reservoir as he organized the first wave of swimmers to get ready to start. Note: I was still in bed when I heard the loudspeaker; oops, I was going to be late…
So Ann and I met at a street corner and cycled our way towards the first transition area where athletes would switch from swimming to biking. Since we were too late to see the awesome athletes, we improvised. We started out on our own version of the Ironman. Fluorescent orange tape marked the official route and it was easy to follow along.
Obeying the rules of the road, we stopped at all stop signs and red traffic signals. I enthusiastically waved at the stopped drivers and exclaimed, “Hi! We’re in the Ironman, can’t you tell?!!” They all took half a second to realize I was facetious, but most played along and yelled back, “Yeah, of course I can tell! Keep up the good work, and good luck!”
We made our way to 13th Street, where the finish line was ready and waiting. However it was at least 6 hours before the first uber athlete would officially cross the line to win the race, the digital clock had not yet been turned on, and no crowds had gathered. That meant the coast was clear: I stepped on the red carpet, and in my cycling cleats, I jogged 20 yards across the line for my own personal photo-op. I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear.