IRONMAN World Championship
October 18, 2003 – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
By Kristen McFarland
Best Conditions in at Least a Decade
ISSUE #22, Winter 2003/2004 – The 25th Anniversary of the Hawaii IRONMAN World Championship was blessed with the most ideal conditions in recent memory, which basically means that it was very hot and breezy rather than a furnace with 60 mile an hour wind.
It was also an incredibly stacked field with four returning champions on both the men and women’s sides. Not to mention the winners of most of the qualifying races around the world.
The conditions and the high level of competition helped set up a situation where most of the top men were close together on the bike. There was also a new stagger rule in place, which effectively allowed two columns of riders to ride next to each other–one by the white line and the other by the center line. All of the men were watching each other rather nervously. It was not drafting, but they were able to see more of their competition than ever before with just the single column, three meter separation rule of the past.
Widoff the Top American Finisher
Cam Widoff of Boulder was competing in his 14th consecutive World Championship and has become one of the most consistently top finishing athletes in the race’s history. His eighth place finish was also the top American performance this year, a standing he achieved in 1997, also, with his 6th place and best ever finish. He has had 8 top-fifteen finishes.
Widoff was with the lead group of men during the whole bike leg and then put in a 3:01 run split, about average for him compared to his run splits here in previous years.
Lovato in No Man’s Land
Michael Lovato of Boulder had won his first IRONMAN this summer in the new IRONMAN USA Coeur d’Alene in Idaho in June, so he had fairly high hopes coming to Hawaii. He had raced here before and placed thirtieth last year, but had upped his quality of training significantly since then.
His 52:33 swim split was only a bit off the very top swimmers, but he made a crucial mistake of not trying really hard to catch up with the leaders on the bike. He rode the bike leg mostly alone, in what many call the no man’s land, unable to gauge how far back he was of the front group.
He entered the second transition nearly four minutes back of them but clocked a good 2:56:13 marathon, the 12th best of the day, to be the second American behind Widoff, and 9th overall.
Bolton Displays His Running Speed Again
As he did in his first try at this race in 2001, Ryan Bolton (also of Boulder) showed that he is a future contender in this championship. That year his 2:50:10 marathon was second only to winner Tim DeBoom. This year his 2:50:40 run was the fourth best, and that was starting out with a few slow miles.
He swallowed a lot of water on the swim and had severe stomach cramps on the bike. He was sitting up for the last quarter of the ride, unable to get into the aero position comfortably. After a medical consultation at T2, he decided to go out and try the run. As each mile passed he continued to pick up his pace and passed enough people to place 28th overall.
Nine Colorado Age Group Men Come In Under Ten Hours
The quality of results coming out of Colorado continues to prove its status as an ideal training ground.
Chris Peeters of Colorado Springs was again our top age-grouper from the state, as he was in 2001. He raised his overall rank from 79th that year to 50th this year, taking 36 minutes off of his time.
Former pro duathlete, and Duathlon-dot-com’s publisher, Eric Schwartz showed his true duathlon form by being 988th out of the water, 191st best time on the bike and then running the eighth fastest run of the day. This means he passed people during his entire race, and finished 67th.
Then within five minutes of each other, Greg Krause of Denver, Paul Rapinz of Boulder, Tim Hola of Denver, and Eric Peeterson of Colorado Springs all came in around the nine-and-a-half -hour mark. Krause had never competed in Kona but Paul was racing at the Championship for the third time, having raced in 1999 and 2000. Tim Hola was racing for the fifth year in a row. (Last year Tim won the amateur “Double” by having the lowest time combined with the Xterra World Championship the following week.) He moved up this year to 89th overall from 134th.
Gordon Haller Races Again
For the anniversary celebration of the IRONMAN one of several special commemoration events that race organizers planned was to have as many of the original 14 IRONMAN finishers participate. Amazingly, 25 years later, 10 of them came out.
The original IRONMAN Champion is Gordon Haller of Centennial. It wasn’t as though it was too hard to persuade him to race compared to some of the others, as Gordon raced every year from 1978 through 1989, then again in 1998, making this his 15th Hawaii IRONMAN.
Things Don’t Always Work Out the Way You Planned
Tim DeBoom’s attempt to win the World Championship for the third time in a row was thwarted by unexpected health problems. The day started out normal enough with a great 49:05 swim. Out on the bike he was in the lead or in sight of it for most of the ride.
Then he started to have back pain, very unusual for him, but he pushed through it and rode a 4:41:13 split.
He went out fast on the run, but knowing something wasn’t right. The back pain was now also something in the front. He wondered what a hernia felt like. He kept pushing back towards the lead after eventual winner Peter Reid passed him , but then the pain became overwhelming for even the IRONMAN Champion and he felt as though he would pass out. As he headed for a nearby medical van, he dropped and was rushed back to the med tent.
It turned out that he passed three kidney stones that day and the following couple of days. Rough way to try to defend your title. He’ll be back next year wanting it more than ever.