Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Day I Lost the Detroit Ironman to a 10-Year-Old

By: Simply Stu

In a quest to add a new member to the 2010 Evotri team, I hope that we pick someone like Cory...

I was in the Detroit airport a few weeks back on a business trip. At my connecting flight gate, I took a seat next to a young boy that was about 10 years old. He was sitting next to his mom reading Triathlete Magazine. I laughed to myself as this kid turned the pages. As he continued to look at the magazine, I started to prepare for my presentation that was planned later in the day. After about 5 minutes the kid turned to me, tapped me on the arm and said, so what was your time? He caught me completely off guard, and I said, "I think the plane leaves at 9:45." He gave me this crazy look, pointed to my Ironman Wisconsin bag tag, and asked again: "What was your time in the Ironman?" Without letting me answer the question, he continued, "I hope you DID the race and don't have that bag tag to fake people out." I laughed again, and said, "Yes, I did do the race. Three times. Which time do you want?" He looked at me and said, "Lets start with the worst race first."

So the story began. I told him about my 2003, 2005, and 2007 Ironman Wisconsin races. He asked questions about my bike and running shoes. He continued with questions about what I drank and what I ate. By this time, his mom was listening in and seemed to be amused at the "grilling" I was getting from her son. The strange thing was that almost every question was about the "bad (2005)" race and not the "good (2003, 2007)" races I had. After about 30 minutes, he paused as if he was done. He sat back, closed the magazine and closed his eyes. I wasn't sure what to think. Was the conversation over? Did I say something wrong?

About two minutes later, his eyes came open. He gave a big smile to his mom. He turned to me and said, "Can you help me with something?" I wasn't sure what would come out of his mouth, but how could I say no? He smiled and said, "Let's race. If you can do three Ironman races, and I can beat you to the next gate, I bet I can do one when I'm older." I was in a suit and dress shoes in the middle of a busy Detroit airport. Was he kidding me? He turned to me and said, "Ok, let's run three gates, just like the swim, bike and run." At this point a few people had heard the conversation and couldn't wait to see this 10-year-old beat a guy in a business suit.

At first I thought his mom would discourage such an event, but she seemed overly pleased that this was going to happen. I turned to his mom and said, "He sure is convincing." She smiled and gave me the same nod she had given her son, and off we went to gate B15 in the middle of Detroit airport. We'd even made a deal that I would give him my Ironman tag if he won.

By this time, we had a nice cheering section. Cory (as I later learned was his name), was set to go. He said, "On my count of 3, we go. 1, 2, 3, GO!" We ran three gates down. I stopped three gates down, just a step in front of him - my hands in the air in victory. He smiled, turned around and ran back to B15. He slapped a few hands of those watching, taking victory straight from my hands! After giving him my Ironman Wisconsin tag, he said, "I can't believe you thought we would only run three gates out and stop; you should know that triathlons have one common transition area."

The plane ride was delayed for almost an hour, so I continued to talk with Cory and his mother. She explained that ever since he saw the Ironman on TV, this is what Cory what wanted to do. He swims, bikes and runs as much as he can.

The time finally came for us to load onto the plane. I sat in the very back of the plane, while Cory and his mom sat near the front. The plane ride lasted for about two hours, and I thought the Detroit airport race was over. As I left the plane, Cory had waited to give me a note. He smiled and said, "Read this later, OK??"

I pushed the note into my pocket and caught a taxi to my office. After about five minutes, I pulled out the note. Here is what it said:

"My mom wanted me to thank you for racing in Detroit. I wanted to thank you because people at my school don't think I can do this. One day, maybe I can give you your Ironman tag back when I get my own.

PS: You better not tell your friends that you got beat by a 10-year-old."