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First-time visitor vows to return ... for Ironman

August 6, 2011
Lake Placid News
To the editor:

I went to my first Ironman in Lake Placid this past weekend. My first time in Lake Placid, and my first time in the Adirondacks. What a stunning area. As a former hockey player to get to go into the miracle on ice rink and stand where Coach Brooks stood, I actually had to sit down for a second to collect myself. Seeing the tops of the ski jumps as I came in town sent a shiver down my spine, and instantly transforming me into my six- year-old self again. I could go on about all of what I saw for hours, but I digress.

Saturday I was able to ride the bike course and further explore the area. What an amazing place. I thought we had hills and mountains in Massachusetts. We don’t; we have some nice rolling grassy sections. I made the mistake of riding up Whiteface. While I thought my heart and my legs might explode, my reward at the top was a view that I will never be able to do justice with words. All I can do is say it must be seen to be believed. 

Sunday I volunteered in the bike transition area and had another great day. While crazy and chaotic, it was a great experience. I met people from all over the country, all walks of life. All in this beautiful place for the same reason, to celebrate people pushing their bodies to limits most can’t even fathom or simply dismiss as crazy.

From 10 p.m. to midnight, I watched “the death march” from various spots on the out and back, and the oval. Another amazing experience.  From one gentleman who looked like he had gone into a full body cramp but was still moving forward (it took him almost two hours to finish the last two miles, but he finished) to the people who I never would have thought would have been able to finish, and they probably thought the same at one point or another throughout the day, but they finished.

I can understand people in the towns distain for the race. We come into town, act like we own it. We take over the roads riding and running. Assuming, everyone knows I’m training for the race so they should get out of my way. We litter, we drink too much, we bring the city to a grinding halt on race day. Believe me I understand the frustrations. But for every run in a local has with that guy, I promise you there are a hundred like me. People who probably never would have made it out to see Lake Placid, and the surrounding area. Never would have experienced such an amazing place.

I signed up to race next year because at the end of 2012 I’m getting married and planning on starting a family, so who knows when I’ll have time to train for a race of this length again. Next year I will bring 20 or so family and friends up to take in all the beauty and excitement I saw, and if the stars align and the race goes on, I look forward to taking my kids up to see it and experience it.

I will never qualify for Kona, I will probably never even win a race. I’m the average racer, and I thank you for welcoming me into the city and allowing me to race on your streets. I’m a better man for it.


Russ Lepage

Chicopee, Mass

Member of the

Cyclonauts triathlon club


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