Monday, October 21, 2013

The toughest one day endurance race in the world

I have just watched the (very limited) highlights of this year's Hawaii Ironman. 

The programme stated that it (the Hawaii Ironman) "really is the toughest one day endurance race in the world"


1. What's the finishing rate? 

This year there were 2131 starters, with 1964 finishers = 92%. 

I know competition to even get there is really tough which partially negates the "finishers rate debate" 

2. How long does it take? 

1508 of the finishers were sub 12 hours. 

What about the other 12 hours?

3. What's the total climb? 

Swim 0m. 

Bike 850m. 
Run 131m. 

However conditions are hot, humid and windy.  

4. How hot is it? 

Temperatures typically range from 27.5C to 35C, humidity around 90. 

Now don't get me wrong, I fell in love with this race in the 1990's when I was racing Ironman. At the time, Ironman was right 'out there'. It was great; people thought you were mental - no comment required please. Triathlon was the main, virtually the only, endurance sport and Ironman was the pinnacle. 

Ultra-running was an embryonic sport, almost pre-conceptual. I remember hearing about the Sydney-Melbourne race won by the great Yiannis Kouros. Now they really were mental!

The Hawaii Ironman was the pinnacle of the pinnacle and had almost mythological status. It was the time of Mark Allen and Dave Scott. At the Noosa Triathlon, I received my age-group award from one of my heroes the great Scott Tinley. I was so excited that I rushed up, and rushed back down again, forgetting to shake his hand. A lifetime of regret! 

There were less than 10 qualifying races for Hawaii and only one in Australia where I was living. I didn't ever qualify which at the time was one of my 2 sporting goals. Most frustrating was when I was a month short of my 30th birthday. I just missed a place in 25-29 age group but would have qualified in 30-34 age group. I still blame my parents for their lack of forethought.

A somewhat younger version of me
 finishing the Australian Ironman 1996 
What defines 'tough'? What makes one endurance race tougher than another. Finish rate? Time taken? Altitude, climb, temperature? 

Or is it just a gut feeling, a very personal thing based on our own personal experience However, our own internal marking system is clouded by how we feel on the day. On a bad day, a supposedly easy race can feel incredibly tough but on a good day, you may glide through a supposedly hard race.

I fancy that the Hawaii Ironman is "the toughest one day endurance race in the world" in the same way that the Marathon des Sables is "the toughest footrace on earth". They may well have been in their day but now only keep those titles in remembrance of the roles they have played in the growth of their respective sports. As we seek greater and greater challenges, tougher and tougher events are dreamt up.

What would you consider to be "the toughest one day endurance race in the world"?

No comments:

Post a Comment