Post Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013 – final finisher tears

We headed back to the hotel fairly quickly once I finished my race (swim and bike/run) since I felt gross. It was so nice to have my parents there to carry all my gear, load all our stuff, and drive us back!

Kelly called his parents who were anxiously waiting to talk to him after his amazing day! Luckily that meant I got to take a long shower. That’s when I realized a hot shower doesn’t feel good on a crimson back! Despite having sunscreen applied, my back took a serious licking by the sun.

Five full days after the race and still painful

Five full days after the race and still painful

We lazed around the hotel for a while trying to gather the energy to go out, and FaceTiming with my sister and brother-in-law.

We finally made it back to the race site. We stood around cheering for finishers and taking it all in! Then we needed food ASAP.

We went to Tito’s, an Italian restaurant that’s part of Coeur d’Alene Resort and  placed perfectly on Sherman Ave., right along the finisher’s route.


We snagged an outdoor table and took in the energy from the spectators and Mike Reilly’s voice (voice of Ironman) welcoming finishing athletes while feasting! I was feeling much better, although stiffening up a lot, and was ready to hit the finish line!

We watched finishers for the last hour, leaning up against a fence, and cheering and high-fiving them. I was so emotional seeing the determination in their eyes and the pride in their smiles. It was also interesting to stand around people who were anxiously waiting for their athletes to come in. It made me nervous for them!


The part on my chest that hurt to run really hurt to yell loudly. And, I banged one of my big toes really hard on the gate. I must have still had adrenaline pumping, as it hurt but not too bad. (My big toe is now in the process of lifting to come off! Blech.)

The last hour is incredible to watch, but the last 15 minutes are really something else. There was Ironman staff cruising on a golf cart that would tell Mike Reilly about how far out people were. I think we heard them say quite a few wouldn’t make it.


A group of three or four volunteers ran part of the last stretch with a couple finishers, encouraging them to give it all they got. A videographer on a longboard rode in with a couple athletes, stopping before the finisher chute, to capture their emotion on camera.

There were some people who would veer to the sides to high five spectators, and others were so focused that their eyes were only on their finish line.

I can’t imagine being out there for 17 hours. These people endured! One of the absolute final finishers made quite a few spectators tear up. Her legs were no longer functioning, so volunteers pulled her partway. Then another Ironman staffer put his arms around her and literally dragged her. We couldn’t see the complete finish line, but I think Mike Reilly then took her. I can’t imagine the pain she was in and was so happy they took her across that finish line.


We were simply exhausted from the day’s exertion and emotion.We went to sleep around 1am and sadly were up by 3:30, as I forgot to turn off my alarm from the day before!

We lazed around, headed to breakfast, then waited in the rain for the finisher’s store to open.

We chatted with a lovely couple from Eastern Canada. He raced and qualified for the Ironman World Championships in the highly competitive 40-44 age group!

After spending even more money (finisher’s jackets!), we said goodbye to the lake and the beautiful town and headed home.

Twelve hours later we arrived to a smiling pup and a lot of laundry!

What is the most inspiring athletic event you’ve watched? 

43 responses to “Post Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013 – final finisher tears

  1. I wish we had stayed to watch the last finishers come across. I heard it was amazing! Unfortunately, our little one never adjusted to west coast time so we knew she’d be up at 3:30 ready for the day! Next time!
    You Ironmen and your sunburns… Justin faired pretty well but some of his buddies were really beat up!

  2. I love to cheer people across the finish line at running events, so I can only imagine how amazing it is to watch people complete an IM! It never fails to make me cry when I watch the Kona recap on TV and they show the final finishers coming in before the midnight deadline. The stories of those who don’t make it are absolutely heartbreaking!

  3. That sunburn looks painful! What an amazing experience. We wanted to go back to watch the last finishers come in, but didn’t get back to our camper until 9 that night as one of our friends had to DNF so we were at the med tent for awhile, and we didn’t make it back. I find those last finishers so inspirational for all their determination to keep going. Great post and congratulations again!

  4. Wow, that looks very, very painful. I heard applying yogurt helps!!!
    I think it’s awesome that you guys always head back to the finish line to cheer on the last supporters. I think I’d be in tears just watching them plod across. I’m such a cry-baby when it comes to human achievement!
    Probably the best sporting event I’ve watched were the 2012 Olympics. We had tickets for the men’s 4x400m final, which the Jamaicans won. But the best was watching Mo Farah win the 5000m for the UK, also that day. Because it was on home soil, the atmosphere was amazing. The cheers really did carry him around the stadium again and again and you couldn’t hear your own voice, it really was so amazing and what a great moment to have witnessed!!!

    • Interesting tip; I’ll have to try that!
      I also am a cry-baby when it comes to human achievement and sports!
      I had a feeling that would top your (or anybody’s!) list! I can’t imagine having been there, especially for Farah’s win!

  5. Oh wow! it must have been SO emotional watching the end of the race. cheering people on is my event- I am really good at that 🙂 I can’t believe you made it to dinner! holy moly i would have belly flopped onto the bed and not woken up for a day and a half. you and kelly are such warriors. i think they most inspiring athletic event I’ve ever watched would be any men’s tennis match when someone is ahead in sets 2-0, and then the underdog comes back to win 2-3. that is just SO much mental and physical athleticism at play. agassi pulled several of those off. and the most inspiring event I’ve watched/read vicariously though someone is this coeur d’alene ironman! your recaps have been amazingly moving!

  6. Wow, how great that you went to the finish line to watch after you were done. I think the most inspiring athletic event I have watched (live anyway)would be Ironman Madison. I am lucky enough to have the race right in my hometown and love sitting on State St. to watch all the runners go by and see them finish!

  7. Runner Girl Eats

    I am so impressed that you continued moving around after! I would’ve slept for 3 days straight!

  8. Girl, that sunburn looks so painful! I have been there before. Congratulations on all of your hard work, its so inspiring to read!! XO

  9. I just got teary reading about the finish line! brings back so many emotions – I also couldn’t get over the fact that there were people still racing near midnight. Although I wasn’t as speedy as you, it seemed like so long between when I finished and when they shut it all down. We also went to Tito’s for a late night dinner but unfortunately we didn’t make it to dinner until past 11 p.m. and didn’t get a chance to watch much of the finish line, other than what we could see from our table at Tito’s. That may be my 1 regret from the Ironman – not staying longer at the finish line.

    • I could cry every time I think about it or see photos of the final finishers.
      That’s funny you went to Tito’s, too!
      You can make that your goal at your next Ironman 🙂

  10. Wow, that is amazingly powerful. Any and every finisher is a moving, inspiration.

    And that sunburn, oh my goodness. Poor thing!

  11. I think its so awesome that you went back to the finish line. I think I would have collapsed in bed for 24 hours! The sunburn looks very painful! OUCH!

  12. Wow!! That burn is crazy…I am so sorry!!!!
    So awesome to go back and cheer! I was at the finish line at IMCDA ’09(the year we signed up) and it is crazy! I can not imagine being out there for 17 hours! A guy came in about 20 seconds after midnight! What a day and then not even making it!! 😦

    • That would be so crushing to not make it. It was interesting with the finishers in the last 20 minutes because they might have already been over 17 hours with the new swim start. But amazing for them to cross the line anyway!

  13. I love watching finish lines! It is great to see the elites come in, but for me it’s more emotional to see finishers further down the line. What a weekend to remember!

  14. Greetings from the “lovely couple from Eastern Canada” 🙂
    Nice race report! We enjoy reading your blog. I really wish I could find the nergy to witness the last finishers crossing the line like you did. I swear we are going to try to make it happen next time 🙂
    Give us a shout if you ever head our way (Windsor, ON / Detroit, MI).
    Thierry (& Corinne)

    • Hi! I can see why you didn’t have the energy after such a fast day! But I would make it a goal to do at least once 🙂
      Congratulations again on the Kona qualification. Kelly and I were really happy when we found out!
      You guys be sure to do the same if you come our way. We’d take you on awesome mountain rides!

  15. Wow, that sounds amazing. Congratulations 🙂

  16. Wow now that’s a sunburn! That is so awesome that you went back to cheer on the runners who were crossing. One of the best part of races is having complete strangers cheer you on, gotta love the racing community!

  17. Ouch, what a sun burn.. funky looking too! And that’s incredible, that people were so supportive especially when I imagine it was needed the most, ya know? Great of you to cheer them on too.

  18. Watching that girl finish must have been amazing. What a day! Will you be posting pics of the finishers’ jackets? 🙂
    Your sunburn makes MY back hurt!

  19. I am so motivated to hear the stories of the last finishers! That is amazing!

  20. runnerbydefault

    Ouch!! I hope your back feels better soon. So cool that you went back to cheer on the finishers. I was amazed at all the people in your picture still at the finish cheering people on after such a long day.

  21. I had to reread this again. I love this summary of your post race and you’re such an amazing writer. You put things so simply but with lots of meaning behind it. I got emotional reading about the finish and how it would feel to work so hard. Do you ever watch ironman on TV? I cry every year. Glad you’re part of this awesome sport.

  22. Pingback: Change the pace – exercising in hot, hot heat | Change of Pace

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