ROANOKE, Va. – Two thousand five hundred athletes are in the final hours of preparing for the rigorous IRONMAN triathlon.
The intense race kicks off Sunday morning with a splash.
Katie Howe will swim 1.2 miles at Carvin’s Cove. It’s a change of scenery she looks forward to after months of laps indoors.
“Oh it’s so nice not to have to turn 83 times,” she said.
Howe is swimming on behalf of a group of bikers she met in Malawi, an East African country. The female bikers were shocked by Howe’s ability to swim as she was inspired by their camaraderie.
“The privilege of being a good swimmer and knowing how to swim is something I think women in more developed countries take for granted,” Howe said.
Maddy Denison will then keep the team moving by hopping on a bike and tackling 56 miles of terrain.
“I know there’s a bad climb but those are the moments I really enjoy,” Denison said.
Denison discovered her passion for cycling during the coronavirus pandemic but is riding on behalf of her mother.
Her mother suffers from multiple sclerosis and cancer but is inspired by her drive.
“And to see her continue every day to work out and take care of herself,” Denison said. “It puts a fire in me.”
To wrap it up, Sam Koenig will cross the finish line after a 13.1-mile run.
With 25 years of running experience and plenty of practice on the Roanoke River Greenway, Koening is ready.
“Knowing the hills, knowing where I have to push myself and knowing where I can hang back,” she said. “That will give me an advantage as far as mentally and physically preparing for the event.”
Koenig is running on behalf of her brother who faces kidney failure.
“And in the process, we [family] are all making ourselves healthier in case he needs a transplant.”
It’s the first Ironman race for the surgeons and it will be a memorable one.