'Support system' keeps IronMan athletes focused on goal

Thousands support IronMan athletes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Thousands of people descended upon Kentuckiana from across the country to prove they had what it takes to conquer the IronMan triathlon, but not everyone involved is running the race.

As the Ironman athletes hit the water spectators Karen Porter and Ryan Couch had a few thoughts cross their mind.

"That's got to be cold,” Couch said.

"I'm glad it was him and not me,” Porter said.

After months of training not even a little rain could dampen the mood of the crowd.

"No, no, no the rain isn't going to hold,” Porter said.

While each athlete took a different path to IronMan no one did it alone.

"We all came out to cheer,” Porter said.  “We've got people back home watching online on the app.  It's not just what's here.  Nobody is on the course all by themselves."

That includes the man they affectionately call “Iron Man” Mike Couch who made the journey all the way from Mississippi.

"He has come a long way,” Couch said.  “Growing up he was a 2 pack a day smoker."

"When you start athletics at 54 it's just all heart,” Porter said.  “He's out here running with every young and old person out here of everybody shape and type and he's making it happen.  He's making 58 look good."

"We started walking in 5k's and it just transpired from there,” Couch said.  “We talked him into going and he walked his first one.  He said I've got this, kept going, and never quit."

Regardless if he finishes first or last his support staff will be there with him every step of the way making 140 miles look like a piece of cake.

"It's amazing,” Porter said.  “If you're the first guy out of the water or the last guy out of the water, every person out here has a personal story and they're doing their thing and they're not quitting!"

"If he makes it across the finish line it's going to be awesome,” Couch said.

"That's what makes an Iron Man,” Porter said.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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