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Roll Call of Honor.
Editorial by Tom Demerly.


Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin

On September 11, 2005 many of you will enter Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin to face the greatest of human adversaries: Doubt.

When the cannon sounds at Ironman Wisconsin 2005 you will begin a journey to vanquish doubt. You will stand squarely at odds with the greatest fear every human faces: The fear of failure.

I know that you will face that fear with the highest degree of valor and tenacity that you can summon.

Failure is a looming specter that haunts every person from hero to coward. How we come to terms with fear of failure determines our place along the continuum that separates hero from coward.

Perhaps the greatest failure in all of human endeavor is the failure to try.

In donning your wetsuit on September 11 and paddling out to your start position in Lake Monona you have already won that victory, one of many victories to be contested that day.

The Ironman Triathlon is, at once, a massive undertaking and an utterly insignificant one. But as you tread water in Lake Monona the gravity of the event you face will no doubt settle heavily on your shoulders. Remember though, you bring to the start line a mighty arsenal of preparation to shoulder that weight.

If you enter the water in Wisconsin with a degree of concern over your preparation be assured that you are not alone. Of the 2604 athletes registered to contest Ironman Wisconsin less than a handful do so after a full season of meticulous preparation. Most take to the shores of Lake Monona with the best preparation they could muster while attending to the everyday chores of a common person. The fact that you choose to enter the water in addition to honoring those obligations is what makes you irrevocably uncommon.

It is time to cast your concerns over preparation aside. You go to the start line with what you have, and you will do your very best. Do not let concern or doubt be a companion on this day. Instead, choose to take credit for all that you have accomplished- and mostly that you had the courage to take to the start line, a challenge few people ever have a bold enough spirit to answer.

Make no mistake: Ironman is a titanic endeavor. In all of sport the Ironman Triathlon is held as the gold standard of human endurance. It is an eclectic test of willpower, physical and mental perseverance. There are longer races, there are more difficult races, but there are no more grand and sprawling spectacles than this beautiful contest of fitness, bravery, tenacity and even transformation.

In the span of our lives there are precious few days when, at the onset of the day, we know that at the conclusion of that day our lives will be altered profoundly and permanently. These are the days that change our lives. These days change our ideas of ourselves, the way our friends see us and we see them. We remember these days for the rest of our lives. For those of you beginning Ironman Wisconsin, September 11, 2005 will be one of those days.

September 11 is a significant date in human history since 2001. It is fitting that you take to the water on that date to struggle through an ordeal that is a microcosm of the struggles all free people have faced around the world since September 11, 2001 and before. While your trial in Wisconsin is enormous in a personal sense, in the grand scheme of things sacrificed and endured since September 11, 2001 to insure freedom and liberty around the world, it is minor. Every day around the world brave people exhibit endurance and daring in volumes that far exceed any Ironman in the pursuit of a safe, free world on our behalf. During your race in Wisconsin allow the spirit of these brave people working in the pursuit of justice and freedom to carry you. If it were not for their selfless endurance and dedicated hard work, none of us would have a start line to toe. The sacrifice of these guardians of freedom gives us the buoyancy of liberty and security to pursue sport in the extreme at Ironman.

As with all worthwhile endeavors there will be times throughout the day when your spirit is about to flag, your legs about to collapse and your will stretched to its limit. The realities of injury, illness or misfortune may require you to summon the courage to return another day. If so, you are better for having tried, and wiser for having walked away to return again renewed, on another day. But I wager you will not yield. The value of your accomplishment is held is stark relief against the obstacles overcome to achieve it. The more difficult it is; the more precious it becomes. I know that most of you will prevail, and this means it will be a great day of days, resplendid in celebration and accomplishment.

At the end of this long and trying day, when you come to the finish line, you will earn a prize more valuable than any medal. You will have earned, through sweat and struggle, the knowledge that you can set to the difficult and achieve it with grace and humility. Going forward this knowledge is a prize with currency spent in every part of your life, an abundant source of inspiration and fortitude to serve you well in trying times to come.

It is with no small degree of pride and envy that I bid you each the best of luck at Ironman. It has been our privilege to play a very small role in helping to prepare your equipment and to attend to a few of the technical details that fit together to make your day at Ironman a success. That is a role we take with solemn sobriety, and with great reverence for the trust you place in us.

This will be a great day of challenge, a day when the brilliant light of accomplishment illuminates the dark shadow of doubt. Take time to bask in that light of accomplishment, as precious few days are lived with so much vitality and depth.

Good luck from all your friends here at Bikesport, and have a safe and fortunate race.


© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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