VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — For two weeks, we’ve been watching incredible athletes at the Olympics competing at the top of their game.
In today’s Good News for a Good Morning, 10 On Your Side is introducing another incredible athlete.
While Sue Richardson may not make it onto the world’s stage or become a household name, she demonstrates how much human beings can overcome physically, mentally and emotionally.
Richardson says the last year and a half at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital were unlike any other she’s experienced in her 33-year career as a registered nurse.
“It’s been extraordinarily stressful,” said Richardson, who said as many as 17 of her fellow nurses fell sick with COVID-19.
“It was a horrible time, absolutely horrible,” she said. “We really felt like we were in a war zone.”
Needing an extraordinary outlet for the extraordinary circumstances, Richardson decided to once again train for an Ironman race.
It’s a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run with a cutoff of 17 hours.
Richardson trained for months for Ironman Tulsa and started out strong on May 23, getting a personal best on the swim portion.
But on her bicycle, she fell behind and missed the cut-off by four minutes.
In accordance with race rules, a volunteer approached Richardson, told her she was done and took her timing chip.
“I hung my head down in shame,” she said. “I kept hearing his voice. ‘It’s done. It’s over. You can’t do this.’ I was just sobbing and hearing that voice. But I soon started to hear this whisper that said “Says who? Says who? Who says this is over?’”
Determined to finish, Richardson kept going, even though she knew she wouldn’t be an official finisher.
Twenty-two hours after she began, Richardson ran to the finish line.
By then, race organizers had packed up and gone home and the crowds were gone. Only Richardson’s supporters were there to see her finish on her own time.
“It’s not about the medal, it’s not about the finish,” Richardson said. “It’s what you put into it. It’s what you make out of it, the experience along the way and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever been through.”