If you are under the assumption that an Ironman is just a variation of a triathlon, you are mistaken. Before writing this blog that was the same assumption that I had. I am now entirely convinced that if I see someone with an ‘M-dot’ tattoo walking down the street, I might just bow down to their accomplishment.
Well if the Ironman isn’t just a triathlon, what is it? It actually follows the same format as a triathlon with a swim, a bike course and a run, but it is so much more. It is an:
‘I am crying because my body is shutting down, people are literally falling down, most people will puke’ race.
First you have to survive the 2.4 mile swim (in which I would drown) then you pedal your way through a 112 mile bike course, and then you drop your bike and RUN A MARATHON!
So it combines three long distance events into a back-to-back grueling race.
Who thought this was a good idea? Well the story goes that it was originally some military men who were arguing about which exercise created the best athlete: swimming or running.
While in Hawaii, Navy Commander John Collins looked at the three existing endurance races in Waikiki and decided to combine the open water swim, the long bike ride, and a marathon.
This would give each athlete the opportunity to prove himself in his preferred exercise but still perform in two fields outside his comfort area. The prize of bragging rights and having all your peers call you “Ironman” brought out 15 competitors to the first Ironman race in 1978.
Ironman is supposed to be a gender neutral term that can apply to anyone who finishes the race. The first female to earn that title was Lyn Lemaire in 1979.
That’s right, just one year after the first race, Lyn was ready and able to complete an Ironman. Since then, women have gone on to be fierce competitors in the race.
The current female record holder in Hawaii is Marinda Carfrae; who finished the course in 8:52:14- which is almost faster than what I could run a marathon in.
The Ironman race has branched out from its humble roots. Official Ironman events take place in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia.
Now, the Hawaii event –which moved from Waikiki to Kona- is the World Championship Ironman. Not just anyone can compete in Hawaii, your spot has to be earned in a previous Ironman race.
You have to not only complete an Ironman, but you have to win in order to get to Hawaii, and you have to finish in a specific time. Competitors have just over 17 hours to finish an Ironman.
The World Triathlon Corporation has taken the Ironman races and brand under its wing and moderates races, paraphernalia, and anything else Ironman related.
Almost everyone claims that the process of finishing an Ironman changes your life. People train for months, years, or a lifetime. It takes quite a bit to adjust your body and muscle strength from shorter sprints to long distance.
When you finish, you know your body and your abilities better than anything else. Many people who finish get an ‘M-dot’ tattoo. This is the nickname for the Ironman logo that is a capital M with a dot head. These have been equated with the tattoos that servicemen get when they complete their time.
Seeing a similar tattoo on another person lets you immediately sympathize with them because they have experienced the same thing you have.
Learning about the Ironman, the pride, the strength and the community, has ALMOST convinced me to add it to my bucket list.
If you are currently training for the Ironman triathlon, leave some comments below on how long you have been training and how far you have left to go.
Nothing says extending your work out to long distance like our waterproofed iPod; it has 15 hours of continuous play and can keep you going when you start to get tired.
Johnny found a love for swimming a little later in life. He really didn't know how to swim too well when he first started...