Colorado writer and triathlete Holly Bennett has collected what she describes as, “20 of the silliest, and most salient phrases some of our athletes have heard on course.”
During an IRONMAN, the things spectators along the course yell at you, the signs you see, and the the mantras you repeat to yourself can significantly impact your race. We chatted with 20 athletes to learn some of the weirdest, funniest, or most inspirational messages that friends, family members, and fellow athletes have shared with them while racing an IRONMAN event.
1) Ryan Hamm, M 18-24 , USA – part of the Coast Guard in North Carolina and races as a member of the US Military Endurance Sports program.
“The funniest, most inspirational thing I’ve heard while racing is, ‘The race has just begun.’ The timing of this saying was perfect—about 14 miles into the marathon portion of an IRONMAN. At first I laughed and thought, ‘What the heck do you think I’ve been doing for the past seven plus hours?’ Then I realized, ‘Hey, they’re right. Just forget about everything you’ve done, and all the pain. It’s just a half marathon. No biggie.'”
2) Matthew Greg Reese, M 45-49, USA – 13-time IRONMAN finisher who raced at the IRONMAN World Championship this year.
“The story that sticks with me was during the 2016 IRONMAN North American Championship. I was about 10 miles into the run (right before the monsoon that stopped us in our tracks for 30 minutes), and I was struggling, so I grabbed a drink at an aid station and was walking slowly. This volunteer came up to me and was super positive, encouraging, and doing everything he could to get me going. ‘Hey man, you’re almost there!’ ‘You are doing great!’ ‘What do you need?’ ‘Are you OK?’ ‘You are awesome,’ etc. I was thanking him and he was walking alongside me the whole time, just never giving up and wanting me to start running. He was saying things like, ‘You’ll make it, trust me.’ I think he believed I was a first-timer, so eventually he said, ‘I’ve done an IRONMAN and I know you can. Is this your first race?’ I responded, ‘Nope, this is number ten.’
Maybe it was the combination of his being tired, standing in the pouring rain, and the amount of effort he put into encouraging me, but I think he felt a little duped after I said that. He (gently) shoved me forward and yelled, ‘OMG, screw you! Get outta here!’ and stormed back to the aid station (laughing the whole time). It was so spontaneous and from the heart that I started howling in laughter—and it got me running again.”
3) Michael Pierson, M 50-54, USA – 12-time IRONMAN finisher who races often with his wife, Susan…
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