MORE THAN THE MEDAL
We all have our IRONMAN stories. In all my years of racing and covering races, I can probably say I’ve seen it all. And as with any inaugural IRONMAN event, the triathlon Gods connived and decided to make the inaugural ALVEO Ironman 70.3 Davao memorable by making it not only super tough, but as hot as possible.
As most athletes are either already preparing to go home or having their post race meal, as the cut off time expired, and as the remaining finisher medals are kept and the carpets are rolled; if you’re still racing at that moment, that’s the time when you either decide to bail out, or dig deep and decide to finish cross the finish line.
No matter how it looks like, no matter if no one is looking, no matter what it takes.
When I saw Vince Garcia, a friend and an IRONMAN finisher, along the run course as I was walking back to my hotel, I noticed that he had an entourage of supporters along with him. Behind them all is an ambulance and a bunch of Police marshalls. A clear sign that he’s the last athlete out there. Right there and then, I decided to walk along with him and cheer him on.
During the final stretch, he stopped multiple times to gather himself and rest. No energy gel or cold drink can save you and help your body recover at that point. One can only imagine what his mind and body was telling him. But the heart, as the engine of the body, always has the final say.
When we made the final turn to Azuela, the tents and the finish line were already in sight.
“No excuses! This is for you guys!” Vince pointed to his team of Para Athletes whom he manages to gather strength. It was at that point, that Vince decided it was all or nothing. I AM CROSSING THE FINISH LINE.
With an army of supporters behind him and the crowd cheering him on, Vince decided to make one final push. Which was, unbelievably, enough to even sprint to the finish line.
“NO EXCUSES!”, Vince shouted as he finished the race.
No medal. No Whit Raymund to announce your name. But with the respect of all the athletes who saw him.
Congrats, Vince Garcia. Thank you for the inspiration.
Watch the video.