The Ironman – sporting madness on two legs. The Ironman triathlon is considered one of the most demanding competitions in the world. All those for whom the participation of an Ironman or generally another triathlon is on the annual schedule, definitely deserve a lot of respect – really WOW. For me, triathletes always cause a mixture of amazement & head shaking – on the one hand, the athletic achievements are super impressive and on the other hand, I think to myself how much madness it takes to expose his body to such a physical borderline experience. Swimming, cycling & running in blazing heat and that over a number of hours – well, you really have to like that. For me definitely, an endurance sport is enough to exhaust me.
But to get a feeling for such a competition, I talked a little bit with my work colleague Max. He is currently preparing for the Ironman in Italy in September. He explained the motives and emotions to me.
Just before that, a few hard facts about the most challenging ironman on Hawaii:
- CONSTRUCTIONS: 3.86 kilometers swim in ocean waves, a 180.2-kilometer bike ride in windy & humid conditions, and then a 42.195 kilometer run in intense heat
- FIRST TUNE: on February 18, 1978, a swim race, bike race & marathon were combined into one big competition for the first time – the premiere on the island of Oahu saw only 15 men compete.
SIDE FACT: “Whoever finishes first, we will call him the Man of Iron (Ironman)” Those were the words of Commander John Collins, who was one of the co-founders and wanted to test his soldiers with it. Over the years the number of participants increased and in 1981 the spectacle moved to the Big Island in Kailua Kona. Now, in addition to the competition in Hawaii, there are several other offshoots spread around the world – the best athletes then come to Hawaii.
- COURSE RECORDS:
Men: 7:51:13 h, 2019 – Jan Frodeno (GER)
Women: 8:26:18 h, 2018 – Daniela Ryf (SUI)
- RECORD WINNERS: The two US-Americans Dave Scott and Mark Allen with six wins each
WHY – Motives for participation
Participation in a triathlon can have very different motivations – one of the most frequently mentioned reasons is to test one’s own physical limits. My colleague at work also listed this as the first point. For him, it is especially exciting to see how you can push your body to the limit or to see what you are capable of during training and the actual race. Another factor is the increase of one’s own performance, measuring oneself against past successes, and constantly improving or even setting one or another record. Of course, for some athletes, there is the idea of qualifying for the Ironman in Hawaii. To be part of the most demanding triathlon in the world is certainly a great goal.
Upside Down – emotions on race day
Race day itself is packed with a variety of different emotions. My colleague thought during his last triathlon in Nuremberg (Challenge Roth) a few years ago, in the 13 hours (unbelievable!!) he needed to complete the triathlon, he often thought about quitting – but since he had a very special mission, he bit through to the end. His mission was to propose to his wonderful girlfriend at the finish line. The engagement ring was a silent passenger during the entire triathlon. Really delightful story and probably one of the most beautiful motivations to want to reach the finish line even after long physical exertions. However, one of his general race goals is always “to get through healthy & enjoy the day to the fullest”. Enjoying the moment is definitely something you can do when you see & especially hear the crowd of cheering people on the side of the course – he still gets goosebumps today just thinking about it.
When I asked him about the mixture of exhaustion and endorphin rush and what actually predominates, he told me that for him the adrenaline and endorphin release was clearly in the foreground. Exhaustion only made itself felt 2 to 3 days later. And so that my colleague can experience such great emotions again soon, he is currently preparing for the Ironman Italy. He is training 6 days a week in order to put on his best performance in September.
If you have a taste for a challenging sporting hobby, you are welcome to participate in the Zadar Half Triathlon on October 9 on the beautiful peninsula of Punta Skala near Zadar in Dalmatia.
ON YOUR MARKS – GET SET – GO!