Ironman Triathlon

Ironman Triathlon

The Ironman World Triathlon Championship or Ironman Triathlon is an annual triathlon race, made famous by its grueling length, race conditions, and sports television coverage.

Held every fall in the US city of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, the race encompasses three endurance events: a 2.4 mile (3.8 km) ocean swim in Kailua-Kona Bay, a 112 mile (180 km) bike ride across the Hawaiian lava desert to Hawi and back, and a marathon (26.2 mile, 42 km) along the coast of the Big Island (from Keauhou to Keahole Point to Kailua-Kona); finishing on Ali'i Drive.

The current course record was set in 1996 by Luc Van Lierde (Belgium) whose winning time was 8 hrs 4 mins 8 sec.

The next Ironman World Triathlon Championship will take place on October 11, 2008.

Qualifying events for the Hawaii Ironman take place annually around the world, in places such as Australia, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, the Canary Islands, South Africa and Europe.

The Ironman Triathlon logo is a trademark of the World Triathlon Corporation. The WTC has also registered the trademark "Ironman Triathlon" for its athletic competitions, and the trademark "Ironman" for a line of clothing, athletic equipment, and souvenirs, and licensed the name to Timex for their line of Timex Ironman wristwatches. Organizations may also refer to their triathlons generically as a "Full Distance Triathlon" to designate a triathlon of a similar distance.


The sport of triathlon was born in Southern California, where events involving swimming, cycling, running or other sports were run by athletic clubs celebrating summer exercise. The idea for the original Ironman Triathlon arose during the awards ceremony for the 1977 Oahu Perimeter Relay (a running race for 5-person teams). Among the participants were numerous representatives of both the Mid-Pacific Road Runners and the Waikiki Swim Club, whose members had long been debating which athletes were more fit, runners or swimmers. Ironman Triathlon was the first major competition to extend the distance to an extreme endurance event. The first Ironman Triathlon was held on February 18, 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaiicite web |url= |title=Ironman Triathlon World Championship - The complete history of the World's most famous Triathlon |date=2007-02-01 |accessdate=2008-01-15] , repeated in 1979 and 1980.

On this occasion, U.S. Navy Commander John Collins pointed out that a recent article in "Sports Illustrated" magazine had declared that Eddy Merckx, the great Belgian cyclist, had the highest recorded "oxygen uptake" of any athlete ever measured, so perhaps cyclists were more fit than anyone. CDR Collins and his wife had taken part in the triathlons staged in 1974 and 1975 by the San Diego Track Club in and around Mission Bay, California, as well as the 1975 Optimist Sports Fiesta Triathlon in Coronado, California. A number of the other military athletes in attendance were also familiar with the San Diego races, so they understood the concept when CDR Collins suggested that the debate should be settled through a race combining the three existing long-distance competitions already on the island: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi./3.85 km), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 miles; originally a two-day event) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 mi./42.195 km).

Until that point, no one present had ever done the bike race; CDR Collins calculated that, by shaving 3 miles off the course and riding counter-clockwise around the island, the bike leg could start at the finish of the Waikiki Rough Water and end at the Aloha Tower, the traditional start of the Honolulu Marathon. Prior to racing, each athlete received three sheets of paper listing a few rules and a course description. Handwritten on the last page was this exhortation: "Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life", now a registered trademark.

With a nod to a local runner who was notorious for his demanding workouts, Collins said, "Whoever finishes first, we'll call "him" the Iron Man." Each of the racers had their own support crew to supply water, food and encouragement during the event. Of the fifteen men to start off in the early morning on February 18, 1978, twelve completed the race. Gordon Haller was the first to earn the title Ironman by completing the course, with a time of 11 hours, 46 minutes, and 58 seconds.

With no further marketing efforts, the race gathered as many as 50 athletes in 1979. The race, however, was postponed a day because of bad weather conditions and only fifteen competitors started off the race Sunday morning. San Diego's Tom Warren won in 11 hours, 15 minutes, and 56 seconds. Lyn Lemaire, a championship cyclist from Boston, placed sixth overall and became the first "Ironwoman".

Collins planned on changing the race into a relay event to draw more participants, but "Sports Illustrated's" journalist Barry McDermott, in the area to cover a golf tournament, discovered the race and wrote a ten page account of it. During the following year, hundreds of curious participants contacted Collins.

In 1981 the competition was moved to the less urbanized Big Island by Valerie Silk and in 1982 Silk moved the race date from February to October; as a result of this change there were two Ironman Triathlon events in 1982.

A milestone in the marketing of the legend and history of the race happened in February 1982. Julie Moss, a college student competing to gather research for her exercise physiology thesis, moved toward the finish line in first place. As she came nearer to the finish line, severe fatigue and dehydration set in, falling yards away from the finish line. Although Kathleen McCartney passed her for the women’s title, Moss nevertheless crawled to the finish line. Her performance was broadcast worldwide and created the Ironman mantra that just finishing is a victory.

The sport of triathlon was added as an Olympic sport at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney as a shorter distance race (1.5 km swim, 40 km cycle, 10 km run or 0.93-mile swim, 24.85-mile cycle, 6.2-mile run).

The original Ironman is held in conditions which are uniquely punishing for endurance racing: the Hawaii water is warm enough that helpfully buoyant wetsuits are not allowed; though the cycling hills have only moderate gradients they are normally crossed by strong and gusting winds; and the marathon leg of the race is usually extremely hot. Other races under the WTC aegis have their own difficulties, characteristic of their setting and season. Anyone completing one of these races within the time limit, so long as it is the prescribed distance, is entitled to call him/herself an Ironman (the term being gender-neutral). At one time there was no cut-off time, then a 15 hour time limit - for these events the normal time limit is now 17 hours. Some iron distance races (not sanctioned by the WTC corporation, but using the same standard distances) have different cut-off times.


The Ironman format remains unchanged, and the Hawaiian Ironman is still regarded as the most honored and prestigious triathlon event to win worldwide. Many could consider this to be the most arduous and demanding competitive sporting event. For the 25th anniversary on October 18, 2003, nearly 1500 athletes were enlisted, most of which had to go through qualification competitions (although some were admitted through the lottery).

Although thousands of athletes worldwide compete at an Ironman event each year, the vast majority aim simply to just finish the course if they are first timers, or set a PR (personal record) time if they've raced this distance before. Only very talented athletes realistically compete for a spot in Hawaii, and just finishing an Ironman race is often the highlight of many triathletes' career. Athletes with disabilities now compete in the event in the physically challenged category, and are required to meet the same cutoff times as able bodied competitors. Australian John McLean was the first physically challenged athlete to complete the event.

People completing such an event are agreed to be recognized as "Ironmen": the plural "Ironmans" refers to multiples of "Ironman" as a short form of "Ironman Triathlon". In the triathlon community an Ironman is someone who has completed a race of the appropriate distance, whether or not it falls under the aegis of WTC.

The Ironman Triathlon is a grueling event that pushes its participants to the limits of endurance. Some, however, find the prescribed distances fall short of these limits. Hence, events such as the double iron triathlon have come about. More extreme formats have evolved; there are in fact triple, quadruple, quintuple, deca, and 15× events that are multiples of the original Ironman distance triathlon. The world records in both the quintuple and deca iron races are held by Astrid Benöhr.

Ironman 70.3

In 2005, WTC instituted the Ironman 70.3 race series. This shorter course, previously known as a half ironman, consists of a convert|1.2|mi|km|sing=on swim, convert|56|mi|km|sing=on bike ride, and convert|13.1|mi|km|sing=on run. As with the Ironman series, it consists of a number of qualifying races at various locations worldwide, culminating in a world championship race with athletes drawn largely from top finishers in the qualifying events. The world championship is held in Clearwater, Florida. [ [ Ironman 70.3 - ] ] Some 70.3 events also act as qualifiers for the full Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

Qualifying events

By 2007 there were 21 Ironman Triathlon qualifying races throughout the world:

US Ironmans

* [ Ironman Arizona] in Tempe, Arizona; added in 2005
* [ Ironman Coeur d'Alene] in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, USA; added in 2003
* [ Ironman Florida] in Panama City Beach, Florida; added in 1999
* [ Ironman Louisville] in Louisville, Kentucky; added in 2007
* [ Ironman USA] in Lake Placid, New York; added in 1999
* [ Ironman Wisconsin] in Madison, Wisconsin; added in 2002

European Ironmans

* [ Ironman France] in Nice, France
* [ Ironman Germany] in Frankfurt, Germany
* [ Ironman Switzerland] , in Zürich, Switzerland
* [ Ironman UK] in Sherborne, United Kingdom
* [ Ironman Lanzarote] in the Canary Islands, Spain
* [ Ironman Austria] in Klagenfurt, Austria

Australian Ironmans

* [ Ironman Australia] in Port Macquarie, Australia
* [ Ironman Western Australia] in Busselton, Australia

Asian Ironmans

* [ Ironman Japan] in Gotō, Japan
* [ Ironman Korea] in Seogwipo, South Korea
* [ Ironman Malaysia] in Langkawi, Malaysia
* [ Ironman China] in Haikou, China

Other Ironmans

* [ Ironman New Zealand] in Taupo, New Zealand
* [ Ironman Brazil] on Florianopolis Island, Brazil
* [ Ironman Canada] in Penticton, Canada
* [ Ironman South Africa] in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Another way of qualifying is the Ironman lottery. 200 spots are reserved for athletes that enter the lottery, 50 of them being international spots, the other 150 being US spots. The lottery entries are then drawn out of a pool of about 3,000 entries.

Notable Ironman triathletes

* Paula Newby-Fraser
** 8-time winner of the Ironman Hawaii (overall record)
** 4 consecutive victories in Hawaii
** 24 Ironman victories overall (overall record)
** Nickname is "The Queen of Kona"
* Natascha Badmann
** First European female winner of Ironman Hawaii
** 6-time winner of the Ironman Hawaii
* Dave Scott
** 6-time winner of the Ironman Hawaii (men's record)
** Nickname is "The Man"
* Mark Allen
** 6-time winner of the Ironman Hawaii (men's record)
** 5 consecutive victories in Hawaii (overall record)
** Nickname is "The Grip"
* Greg Welch
** First non-American male winner of Ironman Hawaii
** Won the Grand Slam of races during his career
** Nickname is "Mighty Mouse"
* Luc Van Lierde
** First European male winner of Ironman Hawaii
** Current time-record holder (8:04:08)
** Holder of all-time record (7:50:27 in 1996 Ironman Europe)
*Scott Rigsby
**October 13, 2007 - Rigsby becomes the "second-ever below-the-knee double amputee to finish an Ironman event", the first to do so at Ironman Hawaii. (16:42:48) [Fazio, Bryan. [ Rigsby realizes dream, completes Hawaii Ironman] . Valdosta Daily Times. November 11, 2007. Accessed on February 5,2008.] [Mackinnon, Kevin. [ Ironmanlife: Masaki Fujita update] . July 4, 2008. Accessed on July 5,2008.]
*Karen Smyers
** Only pro triathlete to win Triathlon Worlds (Olympic distance) and Ironman World Championship in the same year.
*Eduardo Herrera
** First Special Olympics athlete to compete in the Kona, Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. Overall has competed in 11 triathlons with a best time of 11 hours and 52 minutes in the 2000 Ironman Triathlon in Porto Seguro, Brazil. Named “Sportsman of the Year” in 1996 by the Guatemala National Triathlon Federation. In 1999 recognized by the Cabildo Insular of Lanzarote, with the “Gold Crab” button for having finished the most difficult Ironman course in the world.



*cite web
url =
title = Kona Stats, Including Age Group Records
date = October 7 2007
publisher =
accessdate = 2008-05-10


*cite web
url =
title = Kona Stats, Including Age Group Records
date = October 7 2007
publisher =
accessdate = 2008-05-10


External links

* []
* [ Ironman Race Schedule Worldwide]
* [ World Triathlon Corporation]
* [ Ironman Lanzarote]
* [ Triathlon Training] Premier Online Triathlon Coaching & Training Programs

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