What can we learn from the best Ironman athletes in the world? Is it their will to succeed? Their determination to get to the finish line? Their dedication to the hours of training? I watched the World Championships in Kona all day yesterday and seemed glued to the TV. I was amazed to see all the above and inspired by their ethic to put in the efforts in all three disciplines. The course record in the bike was broken by the men in 4:12:54 as was the overall course record with an 8:01:40. But what I was most impressed by was the “realness” of these athletes. The ones that showed their raw & real emotions. The good and the bad. The genuine smiles, the tears, the emotional breakdowns when all the pent up rawness of hours, days, months of hard training boils down to crossing one finish line that means so very much. When you put so much of yourself into something, a dream, and you accomplish it. Sometimes it goes as planned and other times it does not but you are forced to accept it for what it is. I sensed rawness in many of these athletes when it didn’t go as planned yet they still smiled through the pain, realizing at the end of the day it’s a gift we are given to be able to do the sport we love. No day is guaranteed. No race plan is guaranteed. Adjustments might need to be made. Jan Frodeno was a favorite but when his body said no, he was forced to run/walk the marathon. But he did that the entire marathon and crossed the finish. Not the day he was planning but he cheered others on along the way high five’ing his competitor’s. A true champion. When they interviewed him, through his visible disappointment was a smile and a “I will be back”. Something we can learn from the female winner Daniela Ryf, if you are not feeling great in the beginning, stay calm, adjust as necessary and it’s not over till you cross the finish line. She said that was the hardest win she has ever fought for. Sometimes that is what it takes. Heather Jackson left it all out there and she crossed the finish line with the biggest smile on her face. To me, that is the sign of the biggest champion, one that has the biggest gifts, the ones I look up to the most. I am lucky to be able to look up to all these athletes. Their will, their sacrifice, their achievements. And even more than that, their ability to be genuine and real in the face of adversity and triumph. Congrats to everyone that competed and to everyone that continues to train for their goals.