IronMan – isn’t that a comic, and a film with that guy… you know the one…
It is a comic, and a film with that guy… Robert Downey Jr. but it’s also a rather tricky endurance event. It’s a standard triathlon, Swim, Cycle, Run, but a bit longer than most, though shorter than many!
The swim’s 2.4 miles, the bike ride’s 112, and the run’s 26.2, totalling up to 140.6 miles, to be completed in under 17 hours.
IronMan is a brand name, but is often used to refer to any race of this distance, though non branded events are technically “Iron distance” events. The brand is owned by the World Triathlon Corporation.
The World Championships is open to a few groups, you can qualify as a Pro, racing against other professionals (well, that’s not going to work for me!) There is a lottery of slots, but the chances are slim, or you can qualify in your age group…
Age groups are gender specific and fall into 5 year groups – so at the moment I’m “M25-29”
To qualify each IronMan event has a certain number of “slots” for the world championships, these are divided between the age groups male and female depending on how many participants there are in each group, but having at least one slot per age group. So if there are 5 slots in an age group, the top 5 finishers in that group get offered slots – if they don’t take them it rolls down to the next person in that slot and carries on… in some cases this goes on through several finishers… in most that’s not the case any more, sadly.
So, why do it? Do you actually have a chance?
I watched the World Championships live on line in 2007, sat up until about 3am watching Chris McCormack take his first victory after several failed attempts, and Chrissie Wellington take her first (of three consecutive) victories. I was awe struck; the crowds, the scenery, and the fact that it is possible for an age group triathlete to race on the same course at the same time as the best field, and against the best in your age group. I wanted to be in that position.
I watched again in October 2010, thinking that 2011 was going to be my first bash at an IronMan. The desire to be there was even stronger… So, let’s give it a go! What’s the worst that can happen? People more talented than me have tried and failed, but that doesn’t mean I’ll fail.
When I make it, that will be awesome; if I don’t then I hope to learn a lot along the way about myself, about sport, about priorities and about limits. Mark Twight, climber, founder of Gym Jones, and all round fit-as-hell nutbar wrote the following in an article called “Why: Not all are invited” (link) which was about the training at Gym Jones, but while I’m not training at Gym Jones the following extract is true of my goal: