LAKE PLACID - For many of the 3,000-plus individuals racing in the Ironman Lake Placid, Sunday will require a lot of tough work to get to the finish line.
But for Brian Delaney, it will be a fun day away from work. Delaney, the owner of High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid, is one of a handful of triathletes, and the only area resident who will have competed in all 14 Ironman races in Lake Placid.
"Sunday will be kind of like a day off for me," Delaney said Wednesday morning while taking a brief break from his busy day running his store. "I'm always putting in 12-hour days here, but I won't be working on Sunday. For me, the Ironman is kind of a fun social day."
Lou Reuter/Lake Placid News
Standing in front of his High Peaks Cyclery business on Wednesday, Brian Delaney is gearing up to race in his 14th straight Ironman Lake Placid triathlon, which takes place on Sunday.
As a 56-year-old, Delaney isn't expecting, or even looking to post a personal best finish time in the Lake Placid race. Instead, he's just planning to have an enjoyable day on the Ironman course and cross the finish line in relatively good health, especially because he's been dealing with a sore left leg.
"I'll be 57 in September, I feel like I'm 28, but things are starting to break down," he said. "It's nice to have a goal, and it's nice to do all three (legs) at an enjoyable pace, but really, I just want to finish safely. I'm ready to do it, but I haven't trained at all."
Although this isn't one of the years that Delaney has focused on training, he said that just staying active outdoors is his formula for preparing for the Ironman. While many triathletes will have concentrated their efforts on biking, swimming and running, Delaney is relying on an adventurous lifestyle to help him get through the grueling 140.6-mile race.
"Everything the Adirondacks offer - paddling, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing - that's my training," Delaney said. "If I wanted to follow a traditional training plan, I think I could make a run at my best time, but that's not what I'm looking for at this time. As long as I'm doing an activity to get my heart rate up, I'm on the right track."
As a competitor in the first Lake Placid Ironman in 1999, and a finisher in the race every summer since then, Delaney has watched it evolve from a locally-owned race to becoming one of the numerous triathlons run by the World Triathlon Corporation. He said the one constant is that Lake Placid region is tough to beat as the best site to hold the event.
"Back when Graham Fraser ran the Ironman here, there was a more friendly and down home atmosphere," Delaney said. "Today, it's more business like, but that's not a bad thing. Actually, it's a good thing. It's a huge event, and Lake Placid is event driven.
"Last year, we lost five weeks of business following Hurricane Irene, things were slow during Christmas and Whiteface Mountain closed five weeks early. With Ironman, there aren't the issues of weather. It's summer and town is going to be busy."
Delaney said when it comes to the Lake Placid Ironman race, regardless if you're a pro looking to win the title or a triathlete just hoping to finish the race, all competitors will be equally encouraged come race time on Sunday.
"For everybody, the greatest thing is just finishing. It doesn't matter if you're not that fast, it doesn't matter if you're not going to win your age group. Everyone out there is treated exactly the same. When I'm running on that stretch along Mirror Lake Drive, I feel like I'm in the Olympics. It's something you don't forget, and it's something that draws you back. I'm excited and I'm happy to be keeping my string alive."