Over the weekend, WTC canceled their Ironman Lake Tahoe race do to poor air quality resulting from a huge brush fire in the general proximity of the race venue.
I can totally relate to how bad the environment must have been in the Lake Tahoe area. Living in Florida, brush fires are a reality of my life. Each spring, various fires pop up all over the state, but most notably in the northeast part of the state where I live. The smoke and ash that lingers in the air is heavy, reeks and makes breathing supremely difficult. It’s often as if you’re living in the middle of a campfire.
Canceling the race was the correct thing to do.
Imagine what those athletes likely felt when they heard the news.
They had poured literally hundreds of hours into training. Many of them had pushed their bodies to the brink and back. For lots of folks, I’m sure that this was their bucket list event – their chance to become an “Ironman”. I can empathize with those athletes. I know how hard folks work for a big event like this.
And then suddenly to not be able to do the event.
Of course, I get that not doing a race isn’t the end of the world. There are far bigger fish to fry. I feel for those that have lost their house as a result of the fire. There are so many other social and societal issues that folks face each and every day. This was just a race.
And yet, I’m sure that the sense of let down was huge for lots of these athletes. While I suspect that most (if not all) of the athletes impacted can rationalize the decision and realize that canceling the event was the correct thing to do, it’s much more difficult to rationalize emotions.
Surely the thought of having the proverbial rug ripped out from right under your feet had to be disappointing for the athletes, but I cannot fathom what it would be like to race even an hour – let alone up to 17 hours – in conditions like what existed on Sunday.
It would be easy to reflect and rejoice on the fitness gained, the mettle tested, and the experiences gained throughout the time that these athletes trained for their race. Those would be moral victories. For lots of athletes, the reality could be that this was their one chance. Their soon-to-be huge accomplishment. I feel for them.
Ironman has not yet announced how they will handle those athletes. I don’t know if they will get a refund, an entry deferral, or simply nothing. Here’s to hoping that WTC takes care of those athletes and that they have another chance to do their race.
And….here’s to hoping that the lingering effects of not being able to swim, bike, and run this past weekend are able to quickly disseminate like smoke on a windy day.