Ironman Athlete is Inspiration To Her Family - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Ironman Athlete is Inspiration To Her Family

COEUR D' ALENE, Idaho. - The lake city is set to host it's 88th annual Ironman race this coming Sunday. Thousands of athletes are set to test their endurance after months of intense training, while family and friends are set to put in a long day of support to watch their loved one's cross the finish line.

On Sunday, 52-year-old Cheryl Gamache will run her seventh Ironman race. Dozens of her family members will spend the entire day up and down the course cheering her on. The long day for them and Cheryl is well worth it when Cheryl comes running down Sherman Avenue and crosses the finish line.

"There's just a great feeling when you're running into that finish line," said Cheryl Gamache.

Cheryl Gamache says there is nothing better than running down that final stretch of road of Ironman with hundreds of people cheering her on.

"All the spectators make you feel good. You think they're there just for you, it's fun," said Gamache.

Cheryl had been a runner for most of her life. Several years ago she decided to change things up.

"I decided to start swimming and biking that's when the Ironman was coming into Coeur d'Alene, some other people I was doing it so I decided to try it and kind of got addicted to it," said Gamache 

She has raced in Ironman Coeur d'Alene every year except last year when she volunteered instead.

"And it doesn't get any less exciting the more years you've done it," said Gamache.

These Ironman races have truly become a family event.

"It's just an all day journey, we just go to different spots finding out where she's going to be," said Dan Gamache, Cheryl's husband.

In the morning, a few family members are there with Cheryl as she heads off into the water. By the end of the day a large group of Cheryl's family has taken over downtown Coeur d'Alene.

"We all try to get on our phones and make sure everybody is at the appropriate spots to try to cheer her on," said Dan Gamache

One person missing from this year's race will be Cheryl's oldest daughter Tawnya, who passed away earlier this spring.

"It's going to be tough this year without her," said Gamache.

You could argue that Tawnya was her mom's biggest supporter. She would follow her all day throughout the course giving her the much needed encouragement to press on.

"I don't know why I'd only see her here and there for just a minute. A lot of my, I think my youngest daughter and nieces are going to be on the course this year in honor of her," said Gamache.

"Tawnya was always there cheering her on. It's going to be tough but it's going to be good. We'll all be there for her," said Dan Gamache.

Cheryl says this will be her last Ironman competition. Her dedication over the years has now spread to other members of her family. Her niece Katie just finished running her first half-ironman and says her aunt has been her inspiration to compete.

"After doing the half I have a lot more respect, because of how hard the half was for me. It'd be hard to do the full, so it's a lot more of an understanding of what she goes through," said Katie Douglas, Cheryl's niece.

Finishing an Ironman race is no small task, but Cheryl says it's something any dedicated person can achieve.

"I really do believe that anyone, that if they want can do an Ironman. If they want to put the time in they can do it," said Gamache.

*This web story was filed by reporter Mike Perry.

 

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