Coeur d’Alene couldn’t have asked for a more picturesque Sunday to argue that a half Ironman is halved only in name, not in spirit.
With temperatures hovering in the high 70s and low 80s, a slight breeze in the air and pockets of clouds that could, at times, block a square mile of sun if fortune allowed it, triathletes from around the nation flocked to the Lake City, many for the first time in their life.
“This all reminds me of home, actually,” said 33-year-old Jen Annett, of Penticton, British Columbia, who finished in fourth place in the women’s category, just missing out on a chance to take the podium. “The course, the lake, the climate. This is very, very much like home.”
Some, like Annett, were sad to see the full Coeur d’Alene Ironman go last year, but that didn’t stop them from driving hundreds of miles to enjoy the scenic route that had them biking, swimming and running 70.3 miles along Lake Coeur d’Alene.
The race began at about 6 a.m. with a 1.2-mile looping swim in the lake, followed by a 56-mile bike ride along U.S. Highway 95. From there, triathletes finished with a 13.1-mile run through residential and city streets, ending strong with a crowd of onlookers cheering and ringing bells from the sideline at the race’s end near City Park.
A majority in the crowd held signs, wore T-shirts or cheered for loved ones in the race. Others took a more prehistoric approach.
Kelsey Mathison, 28, came decked head-to-toe in an inflatable T. rex costume. She posted up near the track through City Park and held an outstretched hand for high-fives.
She was there to support her father, Todd Mathison, 55, but her encouragement went further than that. When children stopped and stared – likely more than a little taken aback at the sight of a living, breathing creature from the Jurassic period crashing a triathlon – she obliged their curiosity and waved. The lucky ones got to take a picture with her.
“Kids really seem to like it,” she admitted. “Though it is super hot.”
As a majority of the finishers crossed the line, they were treated to live music and food in the Ironman Village under the shady awning of the park.
While that was good for some, plenty took to the large body of water sitting yards away and instead went for a swim to cool down.
Jason Owen, 43, took a dip at around noon to escape the summer heat and to recover from 70 miles worth of spent energy. Also from Canada, he said it was his first year in Coeur d’Alene, but there will be plenty more to come.
“It’s awesome,” he said, drying off on the warm concrete steps near a Mudgy and Millie statue. “Beautiful place. Gonna have to bring the family down for a swim.”
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