What they started together, they finished together.
Kahakai Elementary School teachers Skye Ombac and Bree Wee, who began training for the Ironman World Championship two years ago, crossed the finish line with their arms stretched to the sky Thursday at 8:32 p.m. After 140.6 grueling miles, it was time to hug and cry.
The triathlon kicked off early Thursday morning with the 2.4-mile swim in Kailua Bay. It was followed by a 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
Ombac, 26, and Wee, 42 who started at different times due to their ages, were separated for most of the race until they saw each other on the run. Ombac was at mile 2 or 3 and Wee was at mile 7.
“She told me her foot was bothering her and she told me she was going to wait for me,” Ombac told Big Island Now on Friday. “I knew she was run/walking but I was also run/walking. Just knowing she was up ahead and we were going to finish together made it more special.”
Wee said she was crying throughout the run and every time she saw Ombac she promised: “I’m waiting for you, hurry!”
Wee waited for Ombac at the top of Palani Road for 40 minutes. As they ran the last mile in together, Wee said it went by in a blink of an eye.
“She basically gave up her day and her goals to finish with me,” Ombac said. “It was her last Ironman and my first.”
As they ran together, the two Kahakai Elementary School teachers talked. Ombac said Bree told her she had forgotten why they began this journey. They started training for the Ironman because the younger Ombac wanted a training partner.
“We started this together and we finished together,” Ombac said.
Wee, a retired pro-athlete and former Ironman division winner, said she began training for the triathlon because Ombac asked her. Over the course of two years, the two did every workout together.
“It was the funnest journey out of the 25 Ironmans I’ve ever done,” Wee said. “I was just loving it.”
As the race was getting closer, Wee started forming her own race goals.
“When the day actually came, I wasn’t able to reach those goals at all,” Wee told Big Island Now. “I ended up in medical for an hour and six minutes. My ankle gave out. It was so painful I could hardly get off the bike.”
Wee said the doctors gave her a whole physical therapy session: “They knew I didn’t want to stop.”
Wee said the injury was a blessing in disguise, adding the race wasn’t about her, it was about being there for Ombac.
“If it weren’t for Skye, I wouldn’t have done the race,” she said. “It really is time to be done. The moment I made it about myself it went wrong. It’s no longer about personal goals; it’s about helping the next generation.”
Ombac said her main goal for the race was just to be happy, adding she didn’t want to cry unless it was happy tears.
Ombac started feeling the weariness of the race with 10 to 20 miles left on the bike when she was alone.
“I was ready to be off the bike,” she said. “I was ready to be around people.”
Even through that, Ombac said she was able to give herself a pep talk and changed her outlook to think of the last dozen miles as a workout.
“It was a long day but a good day,” Ombac said. “I’m very sunburnt. As of right now, I’m looking forward to some rest and recovery.”
As she hydrates, Ombac is looking forward to watching the men’s race from the sidelines with Wee and her other Ironman sisters who trained with the pair along the way.
It’s too soon for Ombac to think about next year’s Ironman, but for Wee, she is officially done with triathlons. Her hope is she she taught Ombac and her fellow training partners to never quit, no matter what.