Written by: T.J. Murphy
Today started off with a bang within the hour before the start of the race: We knew for certain that Chrissie Wellington’s historic Hawaii Ironman run—three that, considering her 8:19 at the Quelle Challenge this summer, felt like it was easily destined for four—interrupted if not over. As dramatic as this news was in hitting the island, it quickly slipped away in the thoughts of those around the world who watched one of the most exciting days in the history of triathlon unfold.
It’s tempting to consider adding a footnote to the results of this year’s women’s race that Chrissie wasn’t in it. But the rules of the road when it comes to the Ironman state that making it to the starting line is part of the race itself. To put your mind and body into a state that will carry you psychologically and physiologically to the finish line first requires extraordinary measures in how you train, how you live, and just about every choice you make in between. The race begins months before the athletes step get body marked in the Kona predawn.
Mirinda’s 8:58:36 effort was spiked with a record 2:53:32 marathon, and from the looks of it one had to wonder if she’d been pushed in a duel how close to 2:50 she could have been. It was a race we will always remember for it’s balance (strong 55-minute swim and solid 5:04 bike) and a run so beautiful to watch it seemed to barely touch the ground.
Carfrae is the world champion. No asterisk allowed.
The men’s race turned into a visible brawl the likes we haven’t seen in two decades. Two athletes, Andreas Raelert and Chris McCormack, locked stride for stride on the run back into town after the microwave out-and-back of the Energy Lab. McCormack wasn’t supposed to be there. This year he flew below the radar, hitting races like Nautica, the Encinitas sprint tri and Lavaman. During the bike ride today McCormack hammed it up for photographers. Was it a year of deftly playing possum? Coming out of the lab it looked like a repeat of last year’s race when Lieto was forced to relinquish the lead to Alexander. But McCormack matched Raelert’s pace and eventually picked up the pace like he’d just stolen a car. Like the Iron War of 1989 when Dave Scott and Mark Allen beat on each other and aid stations became tactical springboards, it’s hard not to imagine how much discomfort these two were treading through as they dug in to pursue the win.
Watching the Hawaii Ironman this year (like all years) reminds us of what it’s all about. Pushing beyond the barriers. For the world of triathletes everywhere who took time to watch, tomorrow is going to be a great day to go for a ride.