IronMan® World Triathlon Championship

What's an IronMan® Race?

An Ironman race is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). The Ironman® World Championship held in Kona, Hawaii each year is the premier triathlon event in the world, and consists of a continuous 2.4 mile open ocean swim, followed by a 112 mile bike race across the lava fields of Hawaii’s big island, followed by a full 26.2 mile marathon run, to be completed in less than 17 hours. The race is characterized by high heat, hills, humidity, and high winds, not to mention a very long distance - a total of 140.6 miles of continuous racing. Only about 1800 triathletes across all age categories are selected to compete in the Ironman competition each year, through a series of qualifying races around the world. 

The IRONMAN® Triathlon World Championships is both the original Ironman triathlon race and the annual world championships of the event, held annually on the Big Island in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii since 1978. It's the granddaddy of them all, the Superbowl of Triathlon.  In 2009, an estimated 60,000 Triathletes of all ages entered one of the 41 qualifiers (full and ½ distance Ironmans) in the world.  Only 1750 became eligible to participate in the Hawaii World Championship race.  A Triathlete has to win his/her age group in order to qualify.  Many qualifying races are the one-half Ironman distance of 70.3 miles:  Swim 1.2 miles, Bike 56 miles, Run 13.1 miles. 


From Wikipedia: It all began at an Awards Ceremony for the Oahu Perimeter Relay Race in Honolulu in 1977, when some local athletes discussed the idea of an endurance triathlon combining 3 local races:
Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi.)
Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 mi.; originally a 2-day event)
Honolulu Marathon (26.219 mi.)

U.S. Navy CDR John Collins suggested combining them into a single-day race event. Later that evening, Collins took the stage announcing the event, and that “Whoever finishes first, we’ll call him the IRONMAN." It has since become triathlon's Super Bowl, Wimbledon, World Series, World Cup, and Tour de France all rolled into one. What makes this event so unique is that "average" people get to compete alongside the best in the world (if they qualify for one of the 1800 slots available…).

IRONMAN® Events Worldwide

In 2010 there were 24 IRONMAN® Full Triathlon qualifying races throughout the world:
• US – 7 qualifiers, plus the World Championship in Kona
• Europe – 7 qualifiers
• Australia – 2 qualifiers
• Asia – 3 qualifiers
• Others - New Zealand, Brazil, British Columbia, South Africa, Cozumel

There were a number of Half-IRONMAN® (70.3 mile) qualifying events as well.

Charlie Futrell's IRONMAN® Competitions

Charlie competed in the 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997 IronMan® World Championships. He officially finished three of the races (qualifying times in each of the swim, bike, and run segments), and unofficially completed one, just missing the cutoff time. In the other two, the elements of Kona caused physical problems for everyone (extreme surf and winds on the Big Island). His best time was 15 hours, 35 minutes, 23 seconds in 1992, where he placed 1st amongt US finishers, and 3rd in the world. It is interesting to note that the two guys who beat him (from Australia and Germany) won gold medals for swimming in the 1936 olympics.