IRONMAN: Cheering on athletes, remembering loved ones - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

IRONMAN: Cheering on athletes, remembering loved ones

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Athletes from all over were in Chattanooga Sunday to compete in the Ironman competition.

It's no easy competition. It’s a 2.4 mile swim upstream, 112 mile bike ride, wrapped up with a 26.2 mile run; that's why it's called the Ironman.

"You project how proud of it you are,” said finisher Jessica Russell.

Russell competed in her first Ironman a few years ago. This year in Chattanooga, she is cheering on her husband who is competing.       

Athletes come from all over to compete.

For some, like Russell, it's a family thing.

"I said okay,” Russell recalled about her first Ironman, “I have to beat your time."

A tough, but friendly, competition between a husband and a wife.

"So, now he's doing his third and we'll do it together in a couple of years," she said.

But for others, the competition holds a different meaning.

"He was very athletic and liked to do sports," Teresa and Jorge Elizalde said about their son.

Their son was Army SFC Adrian Elizalde, but today he's not the one competing.

"Our daughter is running in honor of her brother," they explained.

Their daughter, Rachel Elizalde-Powell is competing in her first Ironman competition.

"We're excited but nervous at the same time," said the Elizalde’s.

A mixture of emotions, because the run is in memory of their son.

Pinned close to her heart, Teresa Elizalde dons a Gold Star pin in memory of her son, Sgt. Elizalde.

"We wore this pin for 10 years," Teresa said. 

10 years ago, on August 23, 2007, Sgt. Elizalde died while serving in Iraq.

"We feel that he's with her on each run,” Teresa said, “Each and every run." 

Rachel certainly isn't alone, a sea of blue shirts sit in the crowd for support.

The message is clearly written in white on each shirt, wear blue: run to remember.

And that's exactly what Rachel is doing.

"She’s just channeled his energy for running and in her heart each step she makes is for him," Teresa said emotionally.

She is running to remember her brother, Sgt. Elizalde.

"A great honor,” her parents said, “We're very proud of her."

The Elizalde family came from Vancouver, Washington with supporters from all over the West coast.

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