With its history stretching back almost as far as triathlon itself, Ironman Hawaii has become an institution among athletes. Now in its third decade, we count down 30 highlights from the race to end all races ahead of Saturday’s showdown…
19. Sarah Reinertsen is the first female amputee to finish
In 2004 she tried to compete the Ironman but failed, missing the bike qualifying time by 15 minutes. In 2005 she was back, becoming the first female above-the-knee amputee to complete the course. At the finish line, a self-effacing Reinertsen proclaimed, “Damn, I did it.”
18. Giant of gridiron and Kona
1995 saw American footballer Darryl Haley, above, of the New England Patriots, become the largest person to complete the Ironman at 6ft 5in and weighing almost 300lbs. It was estimated that Haley burned 17,000 calories during the event.
17. Sister Madonna Buder makes it second time lucky
Having been a marathon competitor before she took up triathlon, Sister Madonna Buder of the Sisters for Christian Community amazed onlookers by being the first nun ever to enter the race. Though she failed in her first attempt (1985) to reach the cut-off times, she’s taken to the start line most years since, racing to cheers of “Go sister!” And the reason she competes: “It is with your (God’s) power that I am able to do this. So if this is your will, then keep me going.”
16. Dave Scott places second, aged 40
It may have been Aussie athlete Greg Welch’s day, but many eyes were on Ironman icon Dave Scott, who came out of retirement to take second place in 1994. Scott stopped the clock at an amazing 8:24:32, only four minutes shy of Welch.
15. Blazeman defies
the odds Jon Blais, who became known as Blazeman, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in the winter of 2004, which damages the motor neurons in the brain. Despite losing the use of his fingers, he still managed to complete the 2005 race in a time of 16:28:56.