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The journey to the Ironman start line

LAKE PLACID -- It's Ironman morning and by 4:30 a.m. athletes and spectators were already milling about the village and the Olympic Oval.

Transition opened at 5 a.m. with body marking and special needs bags (food and clothes that the athletes pack themselves to be given out at different points of the bike and run).

It's already an electric atmosphere.

Every athlete have a story to tell, a journey that brought them here. For Laurie Kennedy, today is as much about getting to the start line as it is about trying to get through to the finish.

Laurie, whom I met last year through the Buffalo Triathlon Club, began doing tris last summer. She started with a series of sprints then came to Lake Placid last July to watch the Ironman.

She was taken with the atmosphere, with the sense of accomplishment, with the struggling for a goal, so on Monday morning, she signed up.

Her training was going really well until one day in mid-April. Laurie had just finished a 70-mile bike ride and was a mile from where she parked when she was hit by a car backing out of a driveway.

Nothing was broken, but she suffered numerous injuries including severe disc damage in her neck, a torn tendon and a concussion.

She lost nearly three months of training and was ready to pull out of the Ironman.

But something kept drawing Laurie back to the idea of racing.

And she decided to give it a go.

She registered for next year, because she will have unfinished business. Still trying to regain some of her fitness and after losing nearly three months of training, Laurie is content with seeing exactly what she can do today. Finishing is still the goal, but the setbacks she suffered over the last few months mean that a DNF is something she's made peace with. Which is why she registered for next year's race -- for another shot at a complete year of training and preparation.

The fact that Laurie is at the start line is inspirational. She was hit by a car just three months ago and yet, she wants to give a grueling day a try. She wants to see what she can do, not only physically but mentally and emotionally.

So many would rather just pack it in.

The triumph is getting to the start line.

And those who get there, regardless of what the day brings, already have something to celebrate.

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