Best/Worst Possible Outcome to Ironman Wisconsin 2009

>> Monday, September 14, 2009

I bet you all remember Mike and Jenny. Mike was the winner of the “Tales of a Virgin Athlete Contest” a few months ago on my blog. He had a great story of Jenny’s and his amazing weight loss - and their discovery of marathons and triathlons in the process.

Sunday, we were cheering for Mike and Jenny at their first Ironman. Here they are coming through the water stop where Pharmie and I were volunteering:

Just as Pharmie’s pulling away after a hug

Pharmie and I stationed ourselves at the finish line with about 70 minutes left in the race. Ten minutes before the race closed (at 11:50 pm), I jumped off the bleachers at the finish line and started running the course backwards. I was looking for Mike and Jenny. I sprinted for about 3 minutes, and there was no sign of them. I ran back to the finish line just a few minutes before midnight. I saw Pharmie, pursed my lips holding back some tears, and shook my head as if to say “No Mike... no Jenny...” Pharmie started to tear up a little too.

Right as the race clock was hitting 17 hours - midnight - and the race was officially “over,” I went to go find Mike and Jenny. I didn’t know if they had made the cut-off at State Street at mile 19ish. I ran around the capital, through the closed-down aid-station where Pharmie and I had been working, and headed down State Street. After a block or 2 down State, a figure emerged into the middle of the road around a corner. It was Mike walking with a volunteer. My eyes welled up a little more. I ran up to him.

“Steve, hey man, it’s good to see you...” Mike said to me with a smile. I replied, “Well I wasn’t about to leave you out here...” as I smacked him on the back and started walking with him towards the capital. We chatted a bit. He knew the race was “over,” but he still was going to get in his 140.6 miles. That’s what I wanted to hear.

Mike was near another man also still trying to finish. A different volunteer with a walkie-talkie ran up to them both and told them they needed to start running: the people were sticking around the finish line, and they could only keep it going for another 7 minutes or so. Both Mike and the other guy obliged, and we were all running. Mike looked GOOD. I mean he still had some form, and he looked great while working towards the finish. I was shouting out any little generic bit of motivation that I could: “Looking good Mike!” “Keep it up!” “You’re gonna do this Mike!”

Here's Mike's take on hearing the news that they were keeping the finish line open for him:

...they will let us run down the chute and even though I will not be an offical finisher, we can cross the line. I thought that was cool and suddenly I could run the 4 blocks. I am not sure even now how I did it. When I got my chance to run down with the crowd freaking out, I felt no pain. It was very cool and Ironman and WTC did not have to do that for me. I didn't make it. Bottom line. I didn't make it. They gave me a medal, t shirt and hat too. Right now it doesn't feel right to have it and not have made it. But I went the distance. I finished.

Damn right you finished, Mike! It was the same 140.6 miles that everyone else covered! And I don't know if Mike knew it, but I was taking a few quick videos as he was running. The following video is made up of 3 short clips:
1. Mike just after he started running.
2. Mike running and joking with his sons (in a black shirt and a white shirt).
3. Mike rounding the last corner, throwing high-fives like a rockstar, and heading into the finisher’s chute.

Direct link on YouTube

Here are some photos that Pharmie took of Mike hitting the chute just after I stopped filming:

Pharmie and I had to catch a shuttle back to our hotel, so we couldn’t stick around for Jenny’s finish. But we heard that she made it to the finish line as well. So both Mike and Jenny got finisher’s medals!

So it was a bad finish to Ironman Wisconsin because Mike and Jenny didn’t make the time cut-off. But it’s also a great finish to Ironman Wisconsin, because they both made it through the whole race and covered the distance. And their boys were there to cheer them home!! Mike and Jenny, you 2 are the f’ing strongest Iron Couple I know! Congrats!

(I’ll be back with a lot of fun pictures and videos from IMWI in the next few days. And race photos from the 20 Miler and 10K on Saturday. So check back...)


Beth 9:35 PM, September 14, 2009  

Congratulations to Mike and Jenny! They are super athletes and an inspiration. I teared up watching the video. Awesome job!!

Sarah 9:37 PM, September 14, 2009  

That was awesome video to watch!! I can only hope that I have such rockstar support at IMCdA next year. You guys rock for volunteering and hanging out all day long!

Jenna 9:40 PM, September 14, 2009  

That was the best vid ever!!! Way to go Mike and Jenny!! I am so proud they both did the distance and did not quit when the finish time had passed. THAT is IRON Spirit!!! I am not sure why I blow snot bubbles every time I see someone finish when the day has been so long and challenging but it gets me everytime!!

Anonymous,  9:40 PM, September 14, 2009  

They did it. They keep moving forward and didn't give up. Congrats to them both.

Diana 9:42 PM, September 14, 2009  

My friend's race ended at the 19 mile mark-this was her 3rd time, but was not the charm for her. She did make the previous 2 though.
Kudos for you to hang around for your friends Mike and Jenny. I hope they were their shirts and medals with the great pride they should. Coming across that line is truly an inspiration-NO matter how long it takes. Looking forward to the other pics!

X-Country2 9:44 PM, September 14, 2009  

Oh wow, that video gave me goosebumps. What a great moment. Congrats to them both.

Badgergirl 9:50 PM, September 14, 2009  

Great job on finishing Mike and Jenny! Loved the video Steve.

Alisa 10:05 PM, September 14, 2009  

Thanks for posting this. Wow, Mike and Jenny are quite the inspirational couple.

Nat 10:09 PM, September 14, 2009  

Great post Steve. They are amazing...absolutely amazing. What a couple.

Shannon 10:45 PM, September 14, 2009  

This is a very inspirational video! Thank you for posting it. I was watching the coverage online and they pulled the plug right at midnight. I was disappointed because I knew there were still people out there who had been out there for 17+ hours and deserved to finish. Glad that they could. A friend on facebook actually took a video of Jenny finishing (I think it is her. The announcer said something about her losing weight and her husband just finishing). Unfortunately I can't get it off of Facebook but I guess he saw them this morning and emailed it to them.
It was so great that you went and volunteered. Thank you! I know that means a lot to the athletes.

Marie-Claude 11:24 PM, September 14, 2009  

Way to go Mike and Jenny!! Like you said, Steve: It was the same 140.6 miles that everyone else covered. From start to finish. Of course it's sad that it won't be an official finish, but that finish line was crossed...

Iron Jayhawk 11:31 PM, September 14, 2009  

OMG! I didn't realize it at the time that it was Mike Wimmer. I caught him at the end, Steve!!! :) He was really in great spirits after he crossed and was so grateful that so many people stuck around.

Mike and Jenny - You are both rockstars with a ridiculous amount of Mental Toughness. I admire you both and hope I can tap into your perseverance when I do my first IM in November!

tri_al 1:05 AM, September 15, 2009  

thanks for the post steve, absolutely loved it, and congrats to mike+jenny. stunning job:)

Unknown 1:45 AM, September 15, 2009  

Thanks everyone.
Steve- This is the most wonderful gift. I had a great day, but one of the things I regret was missing Mike's moment at the finish because I was still out on the course and I wanted to be there more than anything.
You gave that to me, and I am so very grateful.
Thanks isn't enough here and I'm done having kids so can't give away my firstborn to you....would a puppy do?

Shannon 5:36 AM, September 15, 2009's not necessarily always about finishing it's the beginning of a journey that WAS completed! You & Pharmie did a great job of supporting an outstanding couple! I'll fly you in to cheer for my IM!

Jeff 7:17 AM, September 15, 2009  

Mike and Jenny rock. Thanks for the pics and video, Steve.

Once upon a time, IM had no cutoff. Are those that finished in 17+ then retroactively not a finisher? Of course not. Some arbitrary cutoff does not take anything away from the achievement.

Erin 7:32 AM, September 15, 2009  

Nice work, Steve and Pharmie!

jen 8:07 AM, September 15, 2009  

Wow, congrats Mike and Jenny and all the finishers of the race!! I absolutely consider them finishers and am really impressed with their endurance and perseverence. Wow!! And I really admire you too steve, (and Pharmie) you guys are so supportive to all your fellow athletes. :) It's really inspiring. Keep up the good work. :)

bigmike600 8:10 AM, September 15, 2009  

Thank you Steve. Having you come out to find me at the end meant a lot to me. I am forever grateful for you and Sarah and for everything you guys did to lift our spirits and help to get us to the end. That video is so cool. I can not thank you enough. You are one fine human being Steve and will make an unbelievable dad some day if you so choose.
We owe you big time.

Stefanie 9:02 AM, September 15, 2009  

OK< There should be a rule about not reading blog posts while at work that well make you cry. Yup going to my staff meeting with tears.

Mike and Jenny, I am proud of you. Congrats!

Regina 9:07 AM, September 15, 2009  

Seriously, I cried when I watched that video. What a gutsy finish. I don't even know them and I am so proud of them for not giving up and finishing the race. Sometimes we (I) need to be reminded it isn't always about the time. thanks for this post! Congrats to Jenny and Mike!

Carolina John 9:08 AM, September 15, 2009  

dang it steve! i didn't want to cry this morning. dang ironman finishers.

Kim 9:08 AM, September 15, 2009  

what determination! that is absolutely incredible they hung in there and crossed that finish line. 140.6 is 140.6 no matter how you look at it. CONGRATULATIONS MIKE AND JENNY!!

p.s. pharmie is looking like a lean, mean triathlon machine!

Unknown 9:25 AM, September 15, 2009  


Congratulations MIKE & JENNY!

You guys are Hero's in my book! :)

B.o.B. 9:30 AM, September 15, 2009  

Congrats to them both. Seriously, just finishing that is a HUGE feat. Way to get out there and support them Pharmie and Steve. All four of you deserve kudos.

Christi 9:34 AM, September 15, 2009  

That is complete awesome!!!!!!

KodaFit 9:37 AM, September 15, 2009  

AWESOME JOB MIKE & JENNY!! Truly inspirational!

A friend of mine heard this quote in Kona last year... You don't know what a bad race is, until you get passed by the paper boy, delivering the paper with the results of the race you're still running.

You guys rocked it, and totally earned your finishers medals!! Thanks for the inspiration on my own M-Dot journey.

the Dread Pirate Rackham 12:13 PM, September 15, 2009  

that photo of mike is great - he looks all ripped! and the video is priceless - what a great friend you are.

Ironman is hard, and hey finished - no matter how you look at it, they finished. An awesome accomplishment.

Anonymous,  12:55 PM, September 15, 2009  

Great story!! Kudos to Mike and Jennie!!

Wedgie 1:18 PM, September 15, 2009  

How could they NOT complete the course when they had such great supporters like you and Pharmie along the way! Great race indeed, Mike & Jenny.

Greenking17 "TRI-harder" 1:29 PM, September 15, 2009  

Amazing story! 140.6 miles is an accomplishment no matter how long it takes. To move forward towards a goal for that amount of time, amazing! Hats off to your friends, Steve...many props!

Chic Runner 1:53 PM, September 15, 2009  

Congrats to them! What a great accomplishment! :) Thanks for sharing this story and what an inspiration they are to us all!

Anonymous,  1:54 PM, September 15, 2009  

You can stand in any forum and ask who won this race, I don't know who won IM WI of 2009, but I will not forget the Wimmer's,their story , their willingness to finish, their dedication, or this you tube video. These two individuals are what Ironman is all about.

kristen 3:21 PM, September 15, 2009  

Congratulations to you both Mike and Jenny! What a wonderful accomplishment.

Eric 3:27 PM, September 15, 2009  

Thanks for sharing this Steve.

First it's great for both Mike and Jenny to finish despite being past midnight. Other could have just stopped.

Second, huge kudos to you for being out there cheering them on and looking for them. You are just as much an inspiration as they are.

What a great finish to a very long day.

CoachLiz 3:32 PM, September 15, 2009  

Congratulations to Mike and Jenny for going the distance in Madison.

Hats off to you and Pharmie for hanging out there all day and helping so many athletes.

Can the two of you come to Cozumel the Sunday after Thanksgiving and make sure I make it to the finish line??? I won't have anyone there cheering for me and I will have to rely on a local Mariachi Band to motivate me.

Amy 5:12 PM, September 15, 2009  

I totally disagree with the cut-off time requirement. Like you said, they covered the same 140.6 miles as everyone else and deserve to keep their medals. What a wonderful story, I had tears in my eyes.

GoBigGreen 5:21 PM, September 15, 2009  

That is really cool Steve. I love your blog not only bc i get to be on it but more bc there are some reallly great stories that need to be told and you do a great job at finding them. And of showing us the vein of approval every once in a while too.

TriSupporter 7:15 PM, September 15, 2009  

Great effort and accomplishment. The video was fantastic. I hate that we missed him as we left around 12:10!

RunBubbaRun 12:03 AM, September 16, 2009  

Great post, Congrats to the both of them. That is what IM is all about. Glad to hear WTC did that for them..

Great video.. They are IronMan!!!

Carly 4:42 AM, September 16, 2009  

Congratulations to both of them! Wow that is an amazing accomplishment. I am inspired.

Chrish Tiyan 9:49 AM, September 16, 2009  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kris 2:30 PM, September 16, 2009  

Awesome recap :) It was so much fun seeing you and Pharmie out there. Yes, I'm healing up well except I got a nasty head cold on the way home.
TC-10 will come up quickly, if not before we'll see you then!

Missy 9:34 PM, September 16, 2009  

Thanks for making me cry, bitch;)

Erin 1:28 PM, September 17, 2009  

I continue to be inspired by these two. Mike and Jenny, you are incredible. And Steve, you and Pharmie are super-volunteers. Way to go all of you. Wow.

erun 8:38 PM, September 28, 2009  

I don't know you, but found a link to your page via Beginner Triathlete. My family and i were down at the finish towards the end of the night and my brother's good friend got some great pictures. I noticed a couple of really good ones of you! Enjoy:

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