Monday, October 3, 2011
Ironman Hawaii - Then and Now
When I first went to Kona for Ironman Hawaii in 1989, the sport of triathlon was tiny and the group of athletes in it, was this small, obscure group of fitness fanatics and endurance junkies. Everyone knew everyone else. The sport even today, compared to many other sports is rather small, but back then it was really small.
Comparing Ironman Hawaii today to the race back then, there were some major differences:
- No UnderPants Run. Most triathletes did the whole race, and practically lived in their speedos while in Kona for the race, with great offense to the locals. Hence the need for the UP run to bring attention to this bad habit.
- No internet. Seriously. You had to wait at least a month until Triathlete Magazine came out with the story of the race to actually find out what happened. Or even longer to watch the race on TV on NBC. Believe it or not back then they actually covered the race
- No Cervelo and a host of other main-stay brands in the sport. Cervelo co-founders, Phil White & Gerard Vroomen had just started their Master's in Engineering at McGill University
- No Slowtwitch (see No Internet) Hard to imagine!
- No Ford. The sponsor back then was Bud-Lite!
- No wind. Every few years, Madame Pele gives a calm year with gentle to no winds. Mercifully '89 was one of those years.
- No Ironman Lake Placid, Ironman Florida, Ironman Arizona etc . . In fact the only other Ironman in North America was Ironman Canada!
- No 70.3 races. Back then it was simple - you called them half-Ironmans
- No timing chips and no Sportstats. Results were all manually done and analog.
- No compression socks, super swim suits, power meters, super-aero bikes, salt pills or complicated nutrition strategies. How did we do it?
I recall getting the hand-book that the race organizers mailed to you about a month before the race( Mail, remember that?) I was floored when I read the recommended weekly training distances to finish the Ironman. It was something like 8 miles swimming/300 mikes cycling/60 miles running. Good Lord help me, I thought. I was averaging about half of those totals!!
As mentioned in yesterdays blog, '89 was the year of Dave Scott & Mark Allen's now famous and epic Iron War. Given the closeness of that race and given modern day's really live coverage on Ironmanlive.com, I would think that this titanic battle between those two giants of the sport, would have made for some very compelling viewing.
My only memory of it all was on the way out to the turn on the run, and with Dave & Mark barreling along back along the same lane of road, I was forced off into the shoulder to run for about 100m, by the phalanx of followers on bikes, cars and media people following the Dave & Mark show along. That was the live coverage of the race back then! Watch it yourself!
Another completely personal, but potential change-the-course-of-history incident was when a few days before the race when I was coming out of the drive-way of our condo on Alii Drive, for a bike ride and nearly taking Dave Scott out, while he was out for a run! Of course Dave would unfortunately, go on to loose that battle with Mark, that day, but in retrospect, I could have potentially robbed the triathlon world of the Iron War!
Final anecdote from '89: There was a guy walking around town that week with a strange looking bare bike frame slung over his shoulder. It was a new bike company with, what the man called, a "triathlon specific" geometry. He said it would make you cycle faster, and run better. That man's name was Dan Empfield, and the bike company had taken the name of one of the states of Mexico - Quintana Roo My only thought at the time, was, we are in Hawaii, why not name the company after one of the Hawaiian Islands?
If you raced Ironman Hawaii, "Back in the day", what are your memories? What's different now in your view?
If you like what you see here, please feel free to share this blog with your preferred sharing app on the links below.