The Front Row with DEREK GARCIA June 22, 2012

A community achievement

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In the months leading up to the 10th anniversary of Ironman Coeur d'Alene on June 24, Derek Garcia will be writing a monthly column keeping the community updated on his adventures as well as what the hundreds of athletes from the Inland Northwest are doing in preparation for the race.

June 26, 2011. Midnight passes and my legs ache. my feet hurt. My throat hurts. I am drained physically and emotionally.

I begin to wonder, was it harder to race this race, or support others in this race? You see in 2011 I didn't race Ironman Coeur d'Alene, I was a spectator. It was unbelievably tiring.

Although I was not racing, I was fighting. Aside from physically pushing people, I was doing whatever I could to somehow get people closer to the finish line. I felt the need to fight for these people, because I know what they are going through.

Each one has their own story and the amazing thing about race day is the many parallels to real life battles.

MORE LOCALS; your coworkers, friends, neighbors, business owners, old, and young are competing in this event every year. Each year it takes at least 2 volunteers per athlete to make the event successful.

Our community usually supplies close to 3 volunteers per athlete. Without this support this race does not happen and the close to 2,800 athletes wouldn't have the chance to finish under the 17-hour cutoff.

THIS INSPIRATION and unbelievable stories come in new forms each year: Athletes who have lost over 100 pounds, or who have no legs, or who are blind (yes blind!), athletes who have overcome diabetes, athletes who have finished with broken bones, athletes who stop for others to change a flat for someone else and jeopardize their race, engaged couples who get married at the finish line, married couples who compete together and want to get a divorce at the finish line, athletes who are racing for a cause like ALS, athletes who have overcome cancer, 70-plus-year-old athletes, the stories go on and on.

IN THE midst of all the amazing people, accomplishments, and stories that revolve around this year’s race I want to share what has inspired me the most.

Many of you know that I was diagnosed with cancer early in May. What has transpired in six weeks has overwhelmed and encouraged me in a way I have never experienced.

The community I have grown up in and have tried to give and serve to over the years has repaid my family tenfold anything I have ever done. It has brought me to tears with the love, sincerity, kindness, and comfort I have been shown.

This story is not about me though. This story is about our community. During the early weeks of finding out I had cancer a friend of mine brought to my attention the saying “no one fights alone.”

This has been what I believe many have latched on to as they support our family. You see, each town that holds an Ironman event claims to be the best in supporting their athletes.

What I have seen first hand is that OUR community really delivers on this. I truly believe that our community rallies in a way that is unlike anywhere else.

I believe that together as a community we all cross that finish line on Sunday; because in Coeur d’Alene it is undoubtedly true that nobody fights alone.

Derek Garcia owns his own personal coaching business, Derek Garcia Multisports, and is a professional triathlete.

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