SPORTS

Ironman Part 3: Is He Alive or Dead? Has He Thoughts Within His Head?

6/15/2006

For Part 1 click here and for part 2 click here. Now lets get on with the show:



For Part 1 click here and for part 2 click here. Now lets get on with the show:

It’s one thing to complete the race once, and bask in the glory but it seems true Ironmen are driven to keep going again and again and again as long as their bodies permit. “There’s nothing better than winning” says Scott. “Any athlete would like to reap the benefits of that.” (And he’s talking about psychological, emotional and spiritual benefits not bling-bling.) Even when prize money was introduced in 86, the winners take was a mere $8000. “My first sponsorship from Nike came at the end of 81 start of 82. They gave me $500 a month and I thought I was rich,” says Scott. Nowadays winners of the Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii pocket a cool $110 000.



Well after his heyday Scott continued to compete in Ironman. At 40 he finished second, and then two years later at 42 he placed fifth. Scott entered the race one last time in 2001, at age 47, but did not finish. “I had the swim of my career. I was in the top ten which was very unusual for me [on the swim]. Out of the water I was about a minute thirty off the lead and I kept getting this sharp pain in my glutes. After about fifty miles I stopped.”

Mark Allen called it a career after winning his last Ironman in ‘95 at the age of 37 with a dramatic race that ended with him making up 13 huge minutes on the marathon stretch. Both Scott and Allen now work as motivational speakers. As for Deboom, age 35, the best he’s faired since his 2001 and 2002 titles is 12th but he’s still going strong and may just have another win left in him.

It’s been 28 years since John Collins and company created the Ironman, and though imitations abound, the crazy race remains man’s purest endurance test. Ironman races are currently held all over the world where entrants compete to qualify for the annual Hawaiian championships. And the distances have stuck. It’s still a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and capped off with a 26.2-mile marathon. Back in 1978, a completion time of just under 12 hours could win an “Iron” guy the top spot, where today it takes just eight hours and change. Which makes Ozzy’s lyrics all the more portentous: Running as Fast As they Can—Iron Man Lives Again!

WINNING THE IRON WAR by Mark Allen as told to Mike Dojc

In 1989 after six unsuccessful attempts at the race Mark Allen defeated Dave Scott in the most exciting race in Iron Man history. This is his story:

I went to New Zealand in the winter before the race and trained down there for six weeks on the south islands. I didn’t have any distractions and in those six weeks I saw how much training I could take if I just really focused on it, and it opened my eyes to what I could do physically. Mentally I was very afraid of the race and I was very afraid of Dave Scott, so I really focused on bringing my strength over to Hawaii and not worrying about the heat, the wind and the distance, and Dave Scott.

A couple days before the race, I was flipping through a magazine and happened upon an advertisement for a workshop on Huichol Shamanism in Mexico. There was a picture of these two shamans that were going to lead it, one was a 109-year-old Indian named Don Jose Matsuwa and the other was his adopted grandson Brant Secunda.

I had never heard of either of these two men or Huichol Shamanism, I knew what Indians were obviously but I didn’t know anything about this tradition. Anyway, in the middle of the marathon, at about mile 13, I was right with Dave Scott, way ahead of everybody else and we were both on pace to break his world record (8:28.37h). One of us was going to do it. Midway through the marathon I started to get real tired and I thought ‘ah jeez not again…here he goes, Scott’s going to win.. I’m never going to win this crazy race.’

I got so caught up with trying to keep pace with Scot that my mind became totally quiet and at that moment the image of the old shaman came back into my mind, he just had this look on his face in the ad that said ‘I’m happy just to be alive’ and somehow that started to give me strength.

I realized I’m happy just to be here next to this guy—nobody else is. I just felt like I was gaining energy from this image of Don Jose and I just got stronger and stronger from that point on. I knew that I could win it after that vision but I didn’t know if I was going to.

With about mile and half to go on the final uphill, I pulled away. I knew it wasn’t over yet. On the downhill there was a chance that my quads could cramp, something bad could happen but then when I got to the bottom of the hill and looked back I couldn’t see Scott.

I ran the last three quarters of a mile with the biggest smile on my face and tears of joy running down my face because it was so hard to have the race I was hoping I could, and it had taken so long to get there.

Epilogue:
Mark Allen finished the race in 8 hours, 9 minutes, and 15 seconds.
The current record is 8 hours, 4 minutes, and 8 seconds was set by Belgium's Luc Van Lierde in 1996.
Last year's champ, Germany's Faris Al-Sultan, completed the race in 8 hours, 14 minutes and 17 seconds.

Copyright © Mike Dojc, 2006

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