A good triathlon has to cover all the basics: proper aid stations, a clearly marked course, scenic surroundings, friendly volunteers and all those other little details that make the entry fee feel justified. A great triathlon needs to cover more than just the basics. The scenery has to be so good that you forget about your speedometer for the entire bike leg.
Instantly, competing in the Ironman became such a hot ticket that organizers instituted a qualifying system to keep the race field more manageable. By any measure, the Ironman presents the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit for professional and amateur athletes. And as the Ironman Triathlon has emerged into the mainstream, the Ironman experience continually transcends pure sport.
I think what makes it difficult, is goals change as the years pass and so would the answer to the question. At first like so many others, I was "Ironstruck". When I first saw this event I was drawn toward it and made the decision that I just had to cross that finish line. Despite the fact that I couldn't swim a stroke and had never been on a racing bike I was compelled by some unseen force to do this race.
Have you contemplated the challenge of doing an Ironman, but the thought of giving up to training all your time not spent working, eating or sleeping has held you back?
Perhaps, you are an experienced triathlete, having completed sprint and Olympic-distance races. Life, however, has your clock in a stranglehold and training time is at a premium.
Back in 1999, I designed a training plan for people who don't have much time but simply want to complete the event without illness or injury. It is certainly not for beginner athletes, but for beginning Ironwomen and Ironmen. Training covers 13 weeks and culminates in completing your first Ironman race in about 12 to 14 hours. Your largest training week will encompass about 13 hours, while other weeks are less.
A triathlon is any single event that combines three distinct sports, which in modern day triathlons include swimming, biking, and running. There are various triathlon races, including Olympic distance (0.93-mile swim, 24.86-mile bike ride, and 6.21-mile run), international distance (0.62- to 1.24-mile swim, 15.5- to 31-mile bike ride, and 3.1- to 6.2-mile run), and sprint distance (0.3- to 1-mile swim, 8- to 25-mile bike ride, 1.5- to 5-mile run). However, the Ironman triathlon is the ultimate distance triathlon, consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. Additionally, there is a half Ironman distance of 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and 13.1-mile run.
Chrissie Wellington of Britain so thoroughly dominates Ironman triathlons that fans measure her success by the number of pro men she beats. Wellington, 35, is undefeated at Ironman, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run. After setting a course record of 8 hours 54 minutes 2 seconds at the 2009 Ironman world championships in Hawaii, she waited almost 20 minutes for the second-place woman to finish.
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The Ironman World Championship format remains mostly unchanged despite the events’ switch from spring to fall. The current record holders include Luc Van Lierde from Belgium whose winning time was 8 hours 4 minutes and 8 seconds in 1996, and Chrissie Wellington from Great Britain who set the women's course record in 2009. She had a winning time of 8 hours 54 minutes and 2 seconds.
Ironman triathlon had the humblest of beginnings, as a bunch of Navy Seals, stationed in Hawaii were discussing who were the fittest athletes in the world. Were swimmers, cyclists or runners the fittest?
Navy commander John Collins decided there was only one way to find out and that was to do all three at once.
So on Feb. 18, 1978 15 competitors decided to put themselves to the test by swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles. "Whoever finishes first will be call the Ironman." Collins said.
And thus, Ironman triathlon was born.
No matter where in the world you race, getting to the Ironman finish line is special. We've shared the experience, we've conquered it. Nothing was easy, it was often tougher than expected, and without question, it was worth it to be a proud member of an triathlon's most exclusive club: Ironman finisher.