Wednesday, September 7, 2011

TNT "Warrior Wes"

This is what Coach Susan called the final TNT triathlete to finish this years Tri for Sight and after what I witnessed Sunday I completely agree.

Wes' Dad at TNT inspiration dinner
Photo courtesy of David Robertson
Wes was participating in this season's Team in Training Tri for Sight to honor his father who currently in undergoing cancer treatments. No one or thing was going to stop him from finishing this triathlon and let me tell you he was up against a lot of odds.  I am only going to replay what I witnessed Sunday....pure inspiration and well, if I am honest, a little nastiness. 

Wes started off the swim around 8AM and finished in 31m17s.  He made his way to transition & after about 9 minutes he was off on the bike.   I know this because these are the only times officially posted in the results.  One of the TNT mentors mentioned to me around 10:15 to keep an eye out for the police bringing in the last cyclist because she suspected it would be him.  Well, we saw the cops come in but they weren't bringing in Wes.  So we figured we must have missed him & that he was already out on the run.

Sometime around 10:30 I found out Wes was still out on the bike course & now officially disqualified because he didn't finish the bike leg within the allotted time.  At this point all I knew is that he was having serious cramping issues & had to stop every few minutes but would not accept a ride back to transition.  He was determined to get there on his own.  The bike course official removed his timing chip, gave him a bunch of Gatorade and made sure he knew that he now had to follow the rules of the road.  My husband volunteered to go out and find Wes.  Steve and a fellow TNT'er went out to try to talk him into coming back with them.  Again he refused & continued on his incredibly painful & slow journey.  
Steve in the black truck, Wes ever so slowly making it in to transition
Shortly before noon we finally saw Steve driving up Sports Center Drive with a cyclist in tow.  We soon found out what was going on with him.  At around mile 1 of the bike Wes had to stop to throw up.  This continued for the next 18 miles of the bike.  He couldn't keep anything in his stomach.  The dude had the stomach flu or maybe after reading his fundraising blog it was a beaver fever relapse!?!!  He was miserable but oh so determined to finish this race.  Coach Susan was so worried about him.  She asked the paramedics to talk to him & try to convince him to stop.  Nope, not gonna happen.  He was going to walk the 4 miles.

Well, we couldn't let him go do the walk on his own.  So Shannon (Lex TNT coordinator), Nina & I walked with him.  He was sweating buckets, his color was bad but yet he never talked about quitting.  We did our best to keep him going & surprisingly he made it all the way to the Arboretum before having to take his first pit stop.  Every time he drank anything it would just come back up.  Not good.

When we reached the Arbo parking lot Ruth & Audrey joined us.  So now there were 5 of us girls trying to keep Wes going for another 2.5 miles.  Finally we reached the turn around & started our way back to the finish.  Bridget from the Louisville office brought us some water & Gatorade around mile 2.5.  As we were about to leave the Arbo Ruth & Audrey head back to their car.  They followed us along for part of the last mile & eventually went back to the finish to wait.

At about one tenth of a mile to go, we hear words of encouragement for Wes over a loud speaker.  We soon saw this encouragement came from the last Lexington police vehicle left at the finish line.  We make the last turn for what we all know to be the finish.  The official finishers shoot has been taken down but they had some orange ribbon pulled across the way so Wes can cross.  The sight of the orange ribbon brought tears to my eyes.  So many of the TNT'ers were still there waiting for him to cross that finish line. 

Photo courtesy of David Robertson
Photo courtesy of David Robertson
Photo courtesy of David Robertson

He doesn't have an official time but he did earn and I mean earn his TNT finishers medal Sunday.   
Photo courtesy of David Robertson
Lots of people were thinking man, Wes is crazy, why is he putting himself through this?  After some reflection, I completely get it.  As most of you know, I lost my Dad to cancer in 2006.  I didn't find TNT until 2009.  If my Dad was still alive in 2009 & going through his cancer treatments there is no way in hell I would have dropped out of that race.  It is an incredibly emotion experience to do a TNT in honor or memory of someone you love.  Sometimes, you can't put into words what you feel & the only way you can express yourself is in action.  Before Sunday I didn't know Wes but today I have great admiration for him.
Photo courtesy of David Robertson
Coincidentally, @RunningQuotes tweeted this on Sunday "Sometimes the biggest accomplishment is not who finishes first, but who last!"

Way to go Wes!

Want to join the awesome TNT family?  They are currently recruiting nationwide for the winter season. Check out the TNT website HERE.

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