11 oktober 2008

Ironman Hawaii

One night in a bar in Hawaii, back in 1977, a group of people were debating which athletes were more fit, runners or swimmers. They knew what they were talking about, because they all were either runners or swimmers themselves, but they couldn´t agree. To make the debate even hotter US Navy Commander John Collins involved himself in the discussion claiming to have read that the cyclist Eddie Merckx had the highest oxygen uptake ever measured among athletes. There and then they decided to find out who the fittest athlete was by combining the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (3.85 km), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (180,2 km, originally a two-day event) and the Honolulu Marathon (42 195 m). The rest is history.

Participants in the first race in 1978 got a handwritten note before the race saying "Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life". John Collins declared before the race that "whoever finishes first, we'll call him the Ironman" (which was later changed to "whoever finishes at all, we'll call an Ironman"). Gordon Haller won this first race after 11 hours, 46 minutes and 58 seconds.

One of the moments in the Ironman history that helped mythify the sport. Julie Moss is 20 minutes ahead of the 2nd woman in the 1982 Ironman Hawaii, when her body shuts down...

So time for this years race, the first one I will try to watch from start to finish. I say "try" because the challenge of staying awake for over 8 hours in front of a screen might be just as hard as doing the Ironman itself. But we´ll see.

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