After 3 days of announcing 2,000+ athletes at the amazing Musselman weekend…… I sound exactly like Marge Simpson’s sister. Because I am all about bringing sexy back.To say that Musselman weekend was a success is a huge understatement. It was downright special.
On Friday night I got to announce five kids from the Coyle family (Mike’s nieces and nephews) in the kids race. Their enthusiasm, their excitement….. their downright gung-ho ness was contagious. This is my FAVORITE photo of the weekend.
Throughout the year since Michael died, I have gotten to know the rest of the family. Especially his mom. We joked a few weeks ago that he would find it funny that we were friends now. The passing of a friend has this intricate way of bringing people together. Musselman was where Mike died last year, and I knew that coming here was not easy for his family. I know it was downright painful.
These kids….. brought back what this was all about. Living life at 100%. Their faces as they crossed that finish line said it all to me. I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. I wanted to send an email to Mike and say “Did you See these kids? This is what YOU inspired friend. This is what YOU inspired.”
Saturday morning five members of team Coyle toed the starting line. His sisters Joanna and Lisa, and his brother Chuck were doing their first triathlon. Their spouses joined them. The moment of silence was difficult. Really difficult. But at the same time really beautiful. I just don’t know how to explain it.
As the race was beginning a State Trooper approached me and asked if I knew the family (I was wearing one of the shirts). I said yes. He asked if he could give me something to pass on to the family. So I followed him to his car, and he handed me a Garmin 301xt.
“This was Michael’s.” He said, and he didn’t need to say one word more. Mike’s garmin.
I took it in my hand and I kept it with me the entire race. I felt like I had been given a great honor…. to pass it back to the family.
I thought about that garmin, and to us athletes how personal that is to all of us. To an outsider it’s just a watch. To us it captures our experiences. Not just heart rate and splits. The good days and the bad days. In this case, the last day of Mike’s life. How many miles he traveled with this. How many snowstorms, marathons, races. To an athlete this is as personal as personal can get.
I gave it to his sister after the race was over, and I knew she understood the meaning of it. It was a good moment.
As the family raced I smiled and shouted them out over the mic. Chuck…. came off the bike second….. and he didn’t start the bike second. He’s an uber cyclist who claims to not be a triathlete….. finished 3rd in his age group. I laughed to myself because I knew that somewhere…. Mike was laughing too.
Mike’s sister Lisa came in next and the most beautiful thing happened. The family went out onto the run course to bring in Joanna. And the most touching, beautiful breathtakingly amazing finish happened next.
I thought a lot about Mike’s amazing wife and his two beautiful girls as the siblings all crossed together. I have been amazed by their strength. Their courage. All of them. I have learned through them what grace really means. I have seen that not all days are good days…. in fact many days are not good days. But they stand up with such strength….. it’s got an energy all its own.
I hope you guys know how much this community loves you. Because we really do.
Here is a great article in the Finger Lakes Times about Michael, Lanlin and the mini Mussel on Saturday. Click here.
On Sunday mother nature was angry and presented the worst conditions I have ever seen at the Musselman. In fact somewhere there was a documented tornado even! Athletes came from all over the country, 20 representing Lanlin Lee, and her husband wore her number….. # 678. It was beautiful, all over again.
At some point in the race I took a moment and looked around. This race is so completely homegrown and local, and that’s something only Jeff Henderson can do. Finisher’s medals are the chainrngs from rear cog-sets saved throughout the year at the Geneva Bicycle Center. The finishers awards are made from Vance, a local metalworking company. Red Jacked Orchards brings the juice and the fruit. Wegmans makes the finish line food and towards the end of the day…. it was free ice cream for all!
Local wineries donated wine for podium finishers. Compost and recycling bins are more full than the trash bins.
Over the past 11 years this race has built itself into what it is…. because of the local-ness. Because of the special touches Jeff puts on it. Because it’s not corporate and flashy. Musselman is special. It always has been and always will be. The bigger corporations said it wouldn’t last when he brought it here in 2004.
Time tells, doesn’t it.
The most amazing thing about Musselman however….. it’s family. as I crossed over from athlete here, to race announcer…. I was part of the family on the other side of the line. I have known Jeff since that first year. Score-This is my true immediate family. And I got to tell the stories behind the athletes. 15 pages of stories we collected on our facebook page about what brings YOU to the Musselman.
Not only did I announce this race but I was coaching several athletes racing it. That made it hard as I am usually out on the course somewhere coaching….. but they were amazing out there! We will get those names and results on our Valor Tri Project Facebook page today!
The whole show was amazing. I hope I get to come back and announce it again.
Thanks to everyone who made this weekend so special. Especially to you Jeff Henderson. For bringing Musselman here and for keeping it here, and making it so so special. This is one of a kind and it always will be.
Thank you especially to the Coyle Family. For everything that all of you are and continue to be. I have been so honored to get to know all of you over the past year. I know Michael is beyond proud of all of you.
And trust me….. this community is too. WE LOVE YOU ALL!