It was something Mike Rogers has hoped to do since he was a kid and, finally, in the summer after he graduated from Avon Grove High School, he took the chance to become an Ironman.
“It was something I always wanted to do because my dad had been doing it for about eight or nine years now,” Rogers said. “There’s such a great energy (at the competition) that just makes you want to do it. It almost inspires you.”
With the beautiful and scenic Adirondack mountains all around, IRONMAN Lake Placid is the longest-running American event, sans the World Championship held in Hawaii, and the one Rogers wanted to do.
“I signed up for it the day after (watching),” Rogers said. “I trained intensively for a whole year. You have to because the race is insane and huge.”
On July 27, the small New York town played host to nearly 3,000 athletes as they took part in the triathlon.
The race started off with a two-loop swim in Mirror Lake before completing two loops 56 miles long on the bike and finishing off with a 26.2-mile run through and around the town.
“The swim was absolutely miserable,” Rogers said. “It was raining really hard and then it started storming on my second lap, so they pulled us out of the water and made us walk along the road to where the transition area was.”
Things didn’t get any easier for Rogers on the bike.
“My best thing is the bike, but the bike is the hardest because (the seat) is so small and you’re sitting on it for like, eight hours,” he said. “It was already hard to begin with, but for my first lap, I didn’t drink enough water and started cramping real bad around mile 40 and got a flat tire.
“I was about 10 minutes before the first cutoff. If you don’t make the cutoff, they won’t let you finish the rest of the race.”
Rogers pushed hard in his second lap and was able to cut an hour off his previous lap and was able to make it before the full-bike cutoff with 15 minutes to spare.
In the last leg of the triathlon, the New London native was able to see friends and family along the course to reinvigorate him, although he needed a little help along the way from his father.
“For some reason, I forgot to pack socks in all my bags,” Rogers said. “My dad had to hide socks for me along the course because you’re not allowed to get outside assistance.”
Waiting for him at the end of the first lap was also a “special needs” bag, which contained some Advil.
“It killed the cramps and got me going,” Rogers said. “I stopped run-walking as soon as I got that Advil. I didn’t have the cramps and the muscle fatigue and just kept going and going and going. It saved my run.”
Rogers was able to cross the finish line with a time of 16 hours and 22 minutes, beating the 17-hour cutoff.
“I wasn’t looking to win, just completion,” he said. “It was a great experience overall.”
So great, in fact, that he even got a tattoo marking his accomplishment shortly after.
But the 19 year old didn’t do this just for himself.
Wearing a “Rise Above” Avon Grove T-shirt in the race, he also did it in support of two classmates, one a good friend, who were injured in a car accident over the winter.
“They were both induced into comas with severe brain damage,” Rogers said. “We’ve been trying to do as much as we can to make anything better and to benefit them. We’re just trying to give hope.”
It’s been a slow, long road for both, but things have been improving, even if it’s slight.
Rogers will continue to support his classmates, whether it be through his band or in another Ironman competition, which he plans to do again — just not anytime soon.
“It was an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and overall happiness that I just accomplished what I was waiting to do for so long,” Rogers said.
Contact Candice Monhollan at 610-235-2652.