June 24, 2024
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June 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ironman: Lake Placid 2021: Part I

We arrived in Lake Placid New York for the Ironman triathlon on Thursday night. It was a five-hour drive from our home in Teaneck.

How many hours of that involved you playing the Canadian Rock band Rush?

Oh, about four albums worth.

What is an album?

It’s petroleum from the ground turned into a 33-inch disc we used to play on a turntable.

OK Boomer.

Once we got settled into the hotel, we went grocery shopping and then settled in for the night.

Why do I care that you went grocery shopping?

We have learned from almost 15 years of triathlon traveling not to bring what we can buy at the location.

Such as?

Traveling in New York State means being able to find a plethora of kosher food. Bagels, lox, cream cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream…


Sadly, no.

TY so much for the travel tips.

The less…


The fewer things we need to bring, the smaller the cooler I need in my car.

When the sun rose on Friday, we had until 5 p.m. to achieve two goals:

Goal 1: Buy swag.

Swag, like a piece of cloth?

Race swag, AKA “stuff” from the Ironman merch tent.

This is the seventh time in 10 years that you have done this race. What was left for you to buy?

It’s not just me; it’s my wife and kids. This is not “David’s Race Weekend.” This is “Roher Family Vacation.”

Where David goes out on Sunday for 16+ hours.

Right. As a result, everyone gets to buy a memento from the race. A glass, a keychain, a blanket, a T-shirt…

Goal 2: Pick up my race materials.

Materials, like building your own bike?

The timing chip is first. You walk up to the first table, show the volunteer your confirmation email. They look you up on their laptop, grab a Velcro strap and magnetize it. You now have a timing chip to strap around your ankle.

Are you under house arrest?

This is how the race officials know that you have crossed each of the checkpoints on the racecourse. This prevents people from cheating. The most famous race cheater was a woman named Rosie Ruiz. Rosie claimed to have run the 1980 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:34:28.

That would mean that she would have averaged a sub-six-minute per mile pace for her run, so everyone who ran at that pace should have noticed her. There were no timing chips in the ‘80s, but no one else could recall seeing her—not athletes, not event volunteers. It was believed that she took the subway to the last mile of the race and just ran across the finish line.

At the next table were pages of stickers, all with my race number. For my torso, my bike, my bike helmet. All so that the photographers can sell you back pictures of you.

Like you wouldn’t buy them.

Of course I was going to buy them. An Ironman race is so big…

How big is it?

…so big that the athlete needs special bags.

Bag 1: swim start:Want to keep the shoes you wore to the water’s edge? Put them in this bag and pick it up after the race.

Bag 2: bike gear:Your bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses and biking shirt have to be stored here.

Bag 3: bike special Needs: The Ironman bike course is two 56-mile loops. Need a snack halfway through the 112-mile course? Stick it in the bag.

Bag 4: run gear: Your sneakers, maybe a change of socks.

Bag 5: run special needs: Hate the snack foods provided on the run course? Pack some into this bag you can stop at mile 13 to grab.

Did COVID affect the race?

It affected almost everything about the race weekend. I had to show my vaccination card to be admitted to the check-in process. Instead of being assigned a number based on when I signed up for the race, we were assigned numbers when we picked up our race materials.

Did you pick your number?

I tried. I asked for 2112.

Another Rush reference?


Your login password?

It was…back when flip phones were a thing.

Instead of volunteers taking my bike for me when I complete the bike course, like a valet, I will have to rack my own bike. No one will be placing my medal over my head at the finish line; I will be handed my medal.

Were you sad?



No, I was grateful that this event was going to take place. In a year of so many unknowns, I held onto my faith that this event was going to take place. I spent a year preparing and I would not be denied my moment.

David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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