Lake Placid’s population has doubled in a mere two days. Athletes have arrived with their families and professionals have returned to compete in their seventh Ironman triathlon. Tourists are enthusiastic to visit the town at full capacity while locals are exhausted from working double shifts.
It’s as if the village is undergoing a serious operation – roads are closed for the race, bike traffic is nonsensical, signs of encouragement crowd the roadsides, colorful chalk is smeared throughout the paved course, shirts and trinkets are distributed among athletes and families in the Iron Village (what is normally the oval), and there is a seemingly endless wait for a table at any restaurant on Main Street. It’s a forty-eight hour transformation.
Energized, enthusiastic athletes, fitted with their blue bands, anticipate the gun sound on Sunday morning that signals the start of the race. Saturday night the town is quiet. Athletes are asleep after having indulged in a two thousand calories meal of carbohydrates and families are resting for a day filled with cheering and commotion.
The gun sounds. Twenty-five hundred athletes flail their arms and kick their feet, trying to defend themselves in the water. They’ve literally launched themselves into a commitment of exhaustion, many of them dropping pounds as they get closer to the finish. Not all racers finish the swim and many miss the time cut and aren’t permitted to continue but those are simply the rules of the sport.
And come Monday morning cars are fully loaded with equipment, families have lost their voices, and athletes are aching and proud. Those who finished have proved themselves to have the strength to swim 2.4 miles, bike 126, and run 26.9.