TRIATHLON >> The Best of 25 years of the Hawaii Ironman

The Best of 25 years of the Hawaii Ironman

Extracts from the excellent book “25 Years of the Ironman Triathlon World Championships” by Bob Babbit and compiled by Tony Benson in January 2006 to inspire the Benson’s Ironman Australia squad.


1. “Swim 2.4 mile, ride 112 mile, run 26.2 mile. Then brag for the rest of your life.” Commander John Collins, US Navy and the father of the Ironman


2. In the 1982 Hawaii Ironman Julie Moss, came off the bike with an 18-minute lead and then walked, crawled and collapsed at the finish line. It was courageous, dramatic and unbelievable. It also changed the Ironman forever. It told viewers “the Ironman wasn’t just about winning. It was about getting to the finish line.”


3. After the bike everyone conceded the 1984 Hawaii Ironman race to Mark Allen but Dave Scott. It was to become the first on many confrontations. It would have a pattern. Allen with the lead…Scott with the win.


4. After the turnaround at Hawi life looked good for Julie Moss and Chris Hinshaw in the 1985 Hawaii Ironman as they held big leads on the bike but for both the clock started to go the other way as Scott Tinley out ran Hinshaw by 26 minutes and Moss failed to finish.


5. After swimming and riding beside “the Lord of the Lava” in the 1987 Hawaii Ironman Mark Allen assessed “I know my body well enough not to go too hard” and ran off to a 4:30 minute lead which he held to the 16 mile mark but at 22 mile Dave Scott (again) flew by to record his record 6th win.


6. “One had 6 titles and the other had none. For 138 miles they were never separated by more than a second.” 1989 was the year of the IronWar. One spectator said watching two people competing side by side for 8 hours was like being in the ‘eye of a hurricane’. After ‘trying everything in previous years’ the man who had never won the title, knew there was no point in trying to out-bike the man with 6 titles ‘because he will just out run you’ and was resigned to having to stay with “the Man” to win the race’.


8. Earlier David Scott had said that his record of 8:28 was soft and it would take a 2:42 or 2:43 hour run to win the 1989 Hawaii Ironman. To that point in history only Scott and Mark Allen had run below 3:00 hours and only Scott below 2:50. After swims of 51:16 and 51:17 and rides of 4:37:53 and 4:37:52 Allen ran 2:40:04 to Scott’s 2:41:03 to win the first of his 6 titles in his 7th attempt.

*Allen and Scott’s times remain as No1 and No2 on the All-Time run list and their times of 8:09 and 8:10 are well ahead of any 21st Century results.


9. “Doubt is the vermin of the endurance athlete. It creeps around the edge of the sub conscious before making a frontal assault”. Mark Allen was at the 10 mile mark of the 1992 Hawaii Ironman, racing a 2:16hr marathon runner and ‘was wondering how soon I could drop out of the race and still save face’ but he held his nerve and at 14 mile began to sense the race was his.


10. Greg Welch caught Ken Glah 8 miles into the 1994 Hawaii Ironman. “I said ‘Nice bike ride’” remembers Welch. “Kenny said this is where the race begins.”


11. “Paula New-by Fraser had a 11 minute lead at the end of the 1995 Hawaii Ironman bike but her torrid pace caught up with her just a few 100 yards from the finish”.


12. Mark Allen watched Thomas Hellreigel pass him ‘like a jet’ on the bike and build a 13:31 minute lead but outran him by 20 seconds per kilometre to win.



13. The year before Paula Newby-Fraser tried to win the race from the front and blew up. This time around she decided to be the hunter not the hunted and out ran Natasha Badmann who was racing in Hawaii for the first time. Eventually the "Queen of Kona" won the 1996 Hawaii Ironman while 45 year old Dave Scott powered through the field with a 2:45 hour run, his second fastest ever, at age 42 to finish 5th behind Luc van Lierde, the first novice to win since Scott himself in 1980.


14. Lori Bowden came into the 1997 Hawaii Ironman race with a 3:01 hour run in Ironman Canada - the result of junking her old low mileage coach and taking on the high mileage work ethic of her fiancée, Peter Reid but her ‘killer legs’ were neutralised by the effort of outriding the field by 8 minutes in the Kona winds and was passed by Heather Fuhr at the 7 mile mark.


15. “Frankly Jurgen, I don’t give a damm” said Peter Reid, the 1998 Hawaii Ironman winner) on being told how Jurgen Zack was storming away on the bike. “ I wanted to win this race …..not be the first guy off the bike”


16. “About this time during the run (3 miles) I realised that I needed more training” said Karen Smyth. Meanwhile the Lori Bowden Express had just pulled out of the station in the 1999 Hawaii Ironman. With two years of high run mileage she rode even faster than in 1997 and then run the first ever women’s sub 3 hour run.


17. “I’m going to go for as hard as I can for as far as I can” said 1998 and 1999 winner and ex-US Navy SEAL Carlos Moleda as he set himself for the 2000 Hawaii Ironman wheelchair division race. The 1998 and 1999 runner up Chris Bailey made a deal with himself before the race that “no matter how bad it gets out there I’m just going to shake hands with it.”


18. Tim deBoom stayed patient all day on the bike in the 2001 Hawaii Ironman. He knew Steve Larsen, a roadie and former teammate Lance Armstrong, might win the bike ride but that the ultimate goal was to win the race. Despite a stop and a 3-minute penalty he ran down a cramping Larsen with ease in the 2001 Hawaii Ironman.


19. In the 2002 Hawaii Ironman rookie Chris McCormack knew that going off the front on the bike was suicidal but when the pack allowed him an 8 minute lead he thought, "This race is mine." Unfortunately he hadn't learned the lessons Dave Scott taught Mark Allen and others of his era and Mark Allen taught another generation of athletes. One of the athletes who had learnt the lesson was Tim deBoom, who knew he could let "someone else win the bike" and that his "job was to win the race and the $100,000 prize purse. Within the first 9 miles a parade of athletes passed McCormack who was now thinking "Man, this is a nightmare."


TB's note: Well done to both Chris and Craig Alexander on their performances since 2006. My wife, Raylene, and I consider ourselves most fortunate to be in Hawaii when Chris won this most prestigious of races/Tony







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