It was Aug. 11, 2012, and about 2,500 athletes from around the world competed in the , jumping into the Hudson River to begin a 2.5-mile swim ending at Ross’s Dock in Fort Lee, where they hopped on their bikes for a 112-mile leg along the Palisades Interstate Parkway and then made the transition—again in Fort Lee—to the 26.2-mile run that would ultimately end at Manhattan’s Riverside Park after crossing the George Washington Bridge
The competition was marred by tragedy when an during the swimming portion of the race, but that didn’t stop race organizers and local officials from hailing the event as a success.
On Thursday, the Fort Lee Mayor and Council issued several proclamations recognizing competitors and especially the many volunteers who played an integral role in making that true.
“We were truly the host community for this event, and it was readily apparent to everyone that when we agreed to do this, it was imperative that certain folks run with it—make sure that volunteers were organized, make sure that Fort Lee was represented the way we expect Fort Lee to be represented because we’re very proud—and the folks that stand to my right are three individuals that ran with it,” Sokolich said, referring to Ranee and Craig Weinstein, co-chairs of the Ironman committee for the Fort Lee Regional Chamber of Commerce (FLRCC), and Margaret Maclay, the Chamber’s new executive director.
“They were very instrumental in the coordination of volunteers and just making sure that everything went smoothly,” Sokolich said. “It was an incredible and festive event.”
The proclamation, which Sokolich read aloud, said in part, “By many accounts, Aug. 11 was one of the most historic days in the 108-year history of the borough.”
“I absolutely agree with that,” Sokolich interjected.
The FLRCC in planning for the events surrounding the Ironman, to help man its runners’ aid station and spectator area near the corner of Hudson Terrace and Bruce Reynolds Boulevard and perform various other tasks, from setting up early in the morning to breaking things down at the end of the day.
“Without your tireless efforts and without your participation, this would have been just another race with folks going over our pavement,” Sokolich said Thursday. “But you didn’t do it that way; you put a special personal touch on it.”
Sokolich also recognized some of the athletes who actually competed in the race, including eventual male and female winners, Jordan Rapp and Mary Beth Ellis, neither of whom could be at Borough Hall Thursday. Instead, the mayor said, proclamations would be sent to the two athletes.
But it was the proclamation Sokolich issued to Fort Lee resident Max Almenas that drew the most applause Thursday.
Almenas finished his first full Ironman in 16 hours, 28 minutes and three seconds, competing on home turf.
“Not only is he a reporter, not only is he a journalist, not only is he a web master, he is also a triathlon athlete,” Sokolich said, congratulating Almenas.
The proclamation itself, Sokolich said, would be made “a permanent part of the public records of the Borough of Fort Lee.”
The Ironman will not however be returning to the area next year, the organization announced Friday afternoon.