UPDATE: Running club honors runner set to compete in Ironman 70. - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports


UPDATE: Running club honors runner set to compete in Ironman 70.3 competition

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UPDATE: Ed Rusk, President of Chattanooga Triathlon Club completed the Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga with a time of 5:16:15. Rusk ranked 32nd in his division and 406 overall. 

PREVIOUS STORY:  A local club plans to run Ironman this weekend, to pay tribute to one of their own members, Sam Land, who passed away suddenly. The Chattanooga Triathlon Club said Sam Land died earlier this week before he could accomplish the 70.3 race himself. Club members plan to write "Sam" on their calves, while displaying Land's name and bib number on their shirts.

Members said Sam Land caught the fitness bug a few years ago. Now his fitness buddies are honoring him with a very sweet tribute, a tribute they say will push them harder to cross the finish line.

When the whistle blows and Ed Rusk dives into the Tennessee River at this weekend's Ironman 70.3
he says he will have one person in mind. “The worst thing we can do is not finish,” said Rusk.  Nearly 95 athletes with the Chattanooga Triathlon Club will compete this weekend, sporting more than their race bibs and sneakers. “Lets put his name on our calves. Just Sam. Those people who know it will get it, those who don't know will be asking about it.”

53 year old Sam Land died unexpectedly earlier this week during a trip to Orlando. He was getting ready to compete in this weekend’s triathlon, hoping to earn another Ironman title. “If you were discouraged he was there to pick you up. If you were last he would slow down and make sure he was last.”

“Athletes from around the country will have Sam’s name, honoring Sam. Him becoming an Ironman, honoring Ironman Sam Land,” said race volunteer Robert Starnes.

Robert Starnes spent many evenings training with Land at their weekly swim. He believes Land will be with the athletes each leg of the course. “Sam will be here, be with us. He will be with the athletes out here. It was an honor to know Sam. It was an honor to compete with Sam.”

These triathletes say they will push even harder Sunday because Land can't. Crossing the finish line for no one other than their biggest motivator. “Because he can't do it. I need to push harder,” said Rusk.

“Sam finished his race, now he is in heaven, he can race other trails,” said Starnes.

Athletes will also wear a green bracelet with Sam’s name and bib number. Sam Land leaves behind a wife and daughter.

The Ironman competition is Sunday. 

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