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One Coeur-ageous Athlete

Posted: Oct 14 2013

Ironman Triathlon Hawaii 2013

Well...the 2013 Hawaii Ironman is in the books and the small town of Kona is starting to return to normal.  I can't tell you how excited we were to see all the Coeur kits on the Queen K and Ali'i Drive! And I certainly look forward to bragging about some of the amazing performances by Coeur athletes including Hailey Manning who went under ten hours and the Duffield twins who used their tremendous athletic ability and charisma to become the darlings of Kona.
Before I do that though, I have to tell you about an athlete who isn't sponsored by Coeur (at least not yet) but who demonstrated so much heart and courage that we're now on a mission to find out more about her.
Hailey had just finished her race and we were walking up Palani. If you have ever been to Kona, you know that there are a couple of relatively short but significant inclines around the hot corner and the transition area (just say "Palani" to anyone who has raced here and watch them grimace).  It's not that the climbs are overly long, it's just that they are very steep and you hit them just after you come off the bike and start the run.  
We looked over to our left and happened to see one of the Challenged Athlete Foundation ("CAF") competitors in her race chair.  She was a petite woman and was at a dead stop about halfway up a hill.  For the most part no one was watching and it was apparent that her arms were about to give out.  
Before I go on to tell the rest of this, I have to just say that I have re-written this next section twice and I just can't find the words to convey how incredible, inspiring, emotional and moving we found this to be.  
In any event, if you've ever been at that point where your muscles just quit no matter how much you try to "will" them on, you'll know what we were witnessing.  This girl clearly wanted to continue but her hands kept slipping off the wheels as she tried to push herself forward.  A small crowd began to gather and they began to cheer.  
She tried to push forward again but once more the muscles said no.  I had that feeling that we were about to see in person the cruel reality that sometime insurmountable odds are just that..insurmountable.  
Then she started doing S-turns. She's the only one who really knows what she was thinking but it appeared that she was weighing the odds of doing these.  The hill was so steep that she might actually tip over if she turned.  On the other hand, she was a dead stop now and her race was pretty much over.  After a minute, we saw her right hand push forward and her chair started to turn left.  For two agonizing seconds, her front wheel came off the ground and we held our breath.  Then..miraculously, she started to move at an angle across the hill!  An official was there and he began moving cones out of the way so that she had enough room to make complete her S-turn.
S-Turns = Genius
S-Turns = Genius!
By now, a bigger crowd had gathered and the cheers were growing. I don't think the pictures do it justice but I swear, you could almost see her taking the raw energy of the crowd and turning it into fuel for her muscles!  She managed a quarter turn or less of her wheels each time she leaned forward but my God, she was moving!
After about ten minutes, she crested the hill and was off.  We had chill bumps and tears in our eyeballs. Like I said, I can't come close to doing this justice but everyone standing there knew that they had just seen something amazing!
To me, it was THE single most courageous thing I saw in a day that was filled with courage.  
Now, we're on a quest to find out and connect with this amazing woman.  We decided that Coeur needs to have a "Heart and Courage" Award and the first one needs to go to this athlete.
We've sent a note to CAF but if anyone knows her name and how to connect with her, please let us know!
Congrats to all the racers on Saturday!
Heart & Courage!!