I am finding it difficult to describe the experience of this event. It was magical, exhilarating, inspiring, extraordinary...it was simply epic!! There was so much energy between the athletes and the fans cheering for them. The whole event was oozing fitness and health and I've never seen so many fit people in my life (athletes and spectators).
I watched the top pros and age groupers finish and decided I needed to start making my way back to the airport for my 10pm flight. Instead of waving down a taxi I decided to walk the 7 miles to the airport along the Queens K Highway. This is the infamous highway that the marathon portion of the race is run. Walking the highway in the dark with athletes who had been out on the course for 13+ hours and still had several hours to go was very emotional. Some of the athletes were overcoming "off" days while others were performing to their highest ability, but the amazing thing was their positive attitude, good humor and mental focus on the finish. The 2 hour walk/jog to the airport along the Queens K Highway during the 2006 Ironman Championships will never be forgotten.