I was just at Ironman Louisville watching some friends kick ass (video coming soon) and realized how easy it is to get caught up in the fast people . . . the ones crushing the race. The finish line is always exciting and I was celebrating at 4th Street Live, but none of that moved me like what I was about to see on my walk back to the car.
Everyone I knew was having a solid race and about to finish under or around 11 hours. It was around 6 o’clock and, after a very long day, I found myself back near transition in a daze. That’s when it occurred to me that people were still out on the bike.
One scene in particular caught my eye and I decided to get one last shot for the video. It was this young girl in the photo below, standing alone with a sign in the middle of the road.
Other than a few workers taking down signs, and two other women 50 feet away, this girl was completely alone. The silence was interrupted by the two women who yelled “Hurry up, you only have two minutes!” to a cyclist who fought to finish in time. As I walked closer to the young girl, she sat down on the yellow line with her head in her hands.
I stopped and asked her if she was okay.
She looked at me with heavy eyes and said, “Yes, I’m waiting for my mom . . . she’s still out there.”
I thought, wow, “still out there” could mean anything.
“Have you heard anything,” I asked.
I had no idea what to do, but her mom had likely been on the bike for at least 9 hours, so I decided to wait a while to make sure she was okay. I was exhausted, I could only imagine how her mother felt.
The girl’s face was washed with uncertainty as she stared at the desolate concrete road. Then, in what seemed like divine intervention, I heard the girl yell, “There she is!” as her mom appeared out of nowhere.
It shook me from a daze and I looked to see her mom cruising toward us at a slow pace. She hugged her aero bars and casually looked at her daughter and said, “Hey you.”
The little girl grabbed her sign and started running. She was yelling, “I love you mom!” the whole way. I watched with a smile as mom and daughter faded into the distance.
I cursed myself for not having my camera rolling, but quickly realized video couldn’t have done this justice. My imagination will always remember those little legs kicking off to each side and that sign flopping in the wind as she ran alongside her mom.
I thought my day of spectating was over, but it was this little scene that changed everything. It reminded me that Ironman is definitely more than a race, it is a test of will and an arena of support from those who love us.
It had been about 30 seconds since the two women yelled out the 2-minute-warning and I hoped for the best. I have no idea of she made the cutoff, but I’m certain their mother/daughter bond was stronger than ever.
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