Monday, October 14, 2013

Mirinda Carfrae, Ruben Grande, CAF, Challenged Athlete, Kona Ironman, GoShiggyGo

This happened!!! 

 What happened with Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae, 
 22 minutes after midnight after the race?

A feel good story of two champions.

(Above: Tan lines!! And duct tape on the bottom of the blade.)
Photographer: Shiggy Ichinomiya 
(of GoShiggyGo Photography)

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This story features:
-Challenged Athlete Foundation member, Ruben Grande 
-Ironman Winner, Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae
-CEO of Ironman, Andrew Messick
-Executive Director of CAF, Virginia Tinley
-Bob Babbitt, CAF Founding member
-Tabi King, CAF Board of Director member

Challenged Athletes Foundation Website:
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Here goes:

OMG, OMG, OMG. There was one more story that "hasn't" been told. I was so lucky to be there to capture the moment.
Right place. Right time. Yippppeeeee!!! 

It was about 20 minutes after midnight, the Ironman building crew were dismantling and taking down the finisher's chute, and it was finally time to grab a bite to eat after a long day of shooting photographs. 

I was tired, and was on hour number 21 of being awake!
 3am wake up call that morning.
Went to bed at 1am = 2 hours of sleep = exhausted. 
Happy though!

It was drizzling and the main lights were turned off and it was dark out. Only 20 minutes earlier this place was going WILD with excitement shouting "KAREN, KAREN, KAREN" as the crowd was trying to bring in the last athlete, Karen Aydelott on her Ironman journey.

The last finisher? Or so we thought.....

A bunch of my medical staff friends and I were heading towards a bar/restaurant about 700 yards from the finish line, when all of a sudden we could hear applause, shouts and people cheering. 
We all thought it was a bunch of drunk people celebrating in the streets and making a path for their friends to go through, however, low and behold it was a CAF athlete going as fast as he could with his duct tape wrapped around the bottom of his prosthetic leg and trying desperately to get to the finish line.

To my total surprise and bewilderment it was Ruben Grande.  
I had met Ruben at the CAF booth at the Ironman Expo two days before. I also took photographs of him doing the Underpants Run on Thursday morning.

As he was making his way to the finisher's line, I realized that there was no one at the finisher's line who knew that he was coming.  That meant  that when he crossed the finish line, no body would be cheering for him after doing the 2.4 mile swim, the 112 mile bike ride and the 26.2 mile run.  I made a decision to run, nay, sprint to the finisher's chute and at least get a couple of people to clap for him and give him some love after his valiant attempt to finish the Ironman.  

It was raining out, the roads were slippery, there were puddles everywhere and all the Ironman sponsorship signs that had proudly hung on the sides of the crowd barriers of the finisher's chute just 20 minutes before were cut off and were haphazardly strewn on the ground to be picked up later.

With my big heavy backpack full of camera bodies, lenses, a laptop, external hard drives and other gear, I ran as fast as I could to see if anyone was there at the end to cheer him on. When I got to the top of the finisher's chute I was panting and a little out of breathe after having to sprint about 700 yards from when I first saw Ruben.  
I noticed about 30 or 40 people in the area still hanging around chit-chatting.
Panting and trying to keep composed, I yelled as loud and as collected as possible, "hey guys there's one more athlete coming through, let's bring him home."   
That's when I saw.....
wait for it........
Wow, she was still there. I thought that by this time she would have left and be in celebration mode.

I quickly went over to her and asked if she could give this triathlete some love. When everyone realized that I wasn't some mad and crazy person, all yelling and screaming about an athlete coming down the chute, they all started to cheer Ruben as he approached the crest of the finisher' chute. 
Rinny went up and gave Ruben a congratulatory hug just as if he had won the whole entire Ironman. 

 Andrew Messick, the CEO of Ironman also congratulated him.  
I then saw Virginia Tinley (Executive Director of CAF)
and she too went over to Ruben to congratulate him. 
It was sooooo surreal. 
And yes, I reached into my big backpack, took out my camera and began shooting away. 
THIS is the "magic" that I love.
Right place. Right time. 
I love what I do. Capturing other people's special moments that
will last a lifetime. 
(Above: Whipped out my camera and got a photo of a medical staff (in purple)leading the way for Ruben.
Settings in camera weren't performed fast enough,
hence the blur.)
(Above: There he is....Ruben Grande.
Rinny in center. CEO of Ironman, Andrew Messick in green.)
(Above: No big fanfare. Crowds already dispersed.
Staff to the left are taking down the signs.)
(Above: Medical staff, far left in purple is overwhelmed 
with emotion. Did this just happen? YES!!!)

(Above: Bob Babbitt and Ruben Grande.)

 (Above: Virginia Tinley, Ruben Grande and Tabi King.)

 (Above: "We are the champions,
We are the champions,
We are the champions, of the World."

Ironman World Championships, Kona. 2013.


 (Below: I tweeted to Rinny, that someone named "Sophia"
had made a comment, way at the bottom of this blog post.
OMG OMG OMG, Rinny answered:
"best IM memories sometimes come very late at night.")

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