ST. George — Recently, I traveled to St. George to watch the Ironman 70.3. All five of my brothers ranging in age from 31 to 48 were competitors. My second oldest brother, Eric has dreamed and pushed for this to happen for years.
Eric, completed his first full Ironman a couple of years ago with the assistance of my middle brother Jon. Jon is a fierce competitor and fits the mold of Ironman completely.
The other three brothers had little interest in ever doing an Ironman or anything close to it and it took much convincing on Eric’s end, but eventually and somewhat reluctantly they each gave in.
As the oldest and the least in shape, we all knew this would be the hardest for Bob.
Various members of our extended family had come in support of the boys. We watched anxiously at different points along the route for each of the brothers to pass. As we expected, Jon was the first one we spotted. He stopped on his bike briefly to chat with us. He said that he felt great. Jeff was next. We cheered loudly as he gave a wave and biked on. My Dad was further down the road and let us know that Jordan had passed and was doing great.
With each sighting of the boys, our relief grew that each was OK, yet still we waited for Eric and Bob. Over an hour passed and finally Bob rode by with Eric right behind him. Eric spotted us, sat back on his bike and pointed proudly at Bob with a huge grin at which point Bob yelled, “I own this!”
We screamed and cheered louder than we had before. We continued to watch and cheer as we saw each of the brothers pass along the route; first with the swim, then with the bike ride and finally as they ran straight up a mountain at the start of the running leg of the race — the last and hardest obstacle for each of them to conquer.
As the sun rose and the hours passed Jon, Jeff and Jordan finally crossed the finish line hands linked and held high over their head at 1:41 pm. The announcer said each of their names and then added, "The Rose brothers."
Our elation was short lived, however, as still we worried about Eric and Bob. They had slowed down significantly for Bob’s benefit. The cut off time was 4:33 p.m. Our hearts dropped when we saw that their projected time on the Internet tracker was 4:40 p.m. If Bob and Eric didn’t cross the line at 4:33, they would not medal.
Every one of us knew Eric would not leave Bob’s side, but Bob would push himself to the maximum, mentally and physically to finish. This would be especially monumental for him. Along with us, his wife and kids waited with unwavering encouragement and emotion as the hours continued to pass and we knew they were still out there struggling in the intense heat.
Bob’s daughter, Rachel could take it no longer and she began to run up the course in search of her Dad. Bob had just begged Eric to give him one minute to rest. When Rachel found him, Eric looked straight at Bob as he pushed him forward, “Don’t you dare disappoint your daughter. We do not have a minute. Go."
Bob continued on.
Emotions ran high as we watched two brothers coming slowly down the road. One, just trying to make it to the end, the other pushing him on just as he had done for 8 straight hours — 3 hours longer than it would have taken him to finish on his own.
As Eric and Bob inched closer to the chute, the other three brothers, who had previously finished, joined them. This time all five brothers linked arms and crossed the finish line together at 4:29:32 with the words, “Roses never quit” printed on their jerseys.
Each of my brothers have overcome obstacles; a traumatic brain injury from a bike accident, not being able to have children, addiction, financial loss and more. When each had gone through their individual trials, the other four were there to say words of encouragement, walk by their side and lend aide, but mostly to push them to keep going when all they wanted to do was quit.
Kate Rose Lee is a Utah native, mother of three and author. You can read more of her writing as well as her books at www.momentsofchunder.blogspot.com Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org