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Rumored gathering for unofficial Ironman Lake Placid never happened

LAKE PLACID — The hoopla never measured up to the hype.

Apparently the word was out earlier last week that despite the fact the 22nd annual Ironman Lake Placid scheduled for Sunday, July 26 was officially canceled more than a month ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, some people, and perhaps a great number, were going to show up on race day and tackle the grueling three-stage, 140.6-mile triathlon anyway.

That however, wasn’t the case. Although Lake Placid’s Bill Whitney and Darci LaFave did encounter one man a couple of times during the evening hours Sunday who was working his way toward the finish line.

Traditionally, upward of 2,500 triathletes reach the finish line of the Ironman Lake Placid race that travels through a number of communities in the Olympic Region on the last Sunday in July each summer. This time around, a father-daughter team from New Hampshire completed the course on their own on July 19, and the triathlete Whitney and LaFave followed briefly may have been the only other person who got it done during a year that has seen Ironman cancel and postpone scheduled triathlons across the globe.

“Around four in the afternoon, Darci and I decided to drive along the running course and see if anyone was out there,” Whitney said. “Near the horse show grounds we saw a guy out there running. We rolled down the window and asked ‘Are you doing the race?’ He said ‘Yeah, I’m doing a virtual Ironman.'”

Whitney said they had about a 45-second conversation as they drove alongside the man while he kept running. Whitney guessed the runner may have been in his 30s, but they never found out his name.

“He just kept running. We said ‘Good for you, good luck.’ After that we didn’t want to bother him and let him go on his way.”

During their brief meeting, Whitney learned that the runner was visiting the area with his wife and they were staying at friend’s home in Gabriels. Whitney knew the folks from Gabriels, and said after he reached out to them, they informed him that the man they saw did indeed accomplish his mission around 9 p.m.

The second time Whitney and LaFave saw the runner was about three hours later when he was plugging along, again, near the horse show grounds during his marathon run. It was at that time, they met his wife, who was parked in a car nearby.

“We felt a little bit excited for him,” Whitney said. “The second time we saw him, we just wanted to make sure he was OK. We blew the horn, cheered for him again. His wife said he was doing fine and expected him to be done around 9. She said he told her it was windy on the bike.”

“I heard all over social media that people were coming for the race. I’m glad that didn’t happen,” Whitney added. “I thought is was a lot more interesting that only one person was out there instead of hundreds. I was happy for him. I think Ironman should give him a medal.”

Up until this year, Brian Delaney of High Peaks Cyclery has reached the finish line in every Ironman Lake Placid race since the triathlon first came here in 1999. His son Colin, a 2017 finisher in Lake Placid, said he also heard the rumor that a large contingent was going to do the Ironman on the day was originally slated for. At around 6:15 a.m. Sunday, Colin headed down to Mirror Lake where the swim takes place to see for himself.

“I just saw on Facebook these outrageous claims there we going to be hundreds of athletes and they’d be putting our community in danger,” Colin said. “I really didn’t expect to see more than a dozen.

“I didn’t see much,” Colin continued. “I think I saw maybe two individuals there who might have been to trying accomplish something, and I saw some people show up with Tri-bikes on their car. I think if anybody was trying to promote something and actually get a group together to do the race, I think it probably would have been on the DL.”

As a super active person, Brian Delaney still kept busy on Sunday, although it marked the first time he hasn’t been on the Ironman course since the massive race was founded 21 years ago.

Chances are he would have been on course again to keep his streak alive. Instead, he painted the roof of his shop located on Main Street in Lake Placid.

“It’s brown now,” Brian Delaney said. “I got the roof done, I went home and cleaned the deck, did some work in the year. Then I went for a paddle and jumped in the lake. It was a good day.”

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