Back in the early Ironman Canada days, racing “near naked” was pretty “cool”.
Unlike the triathletes of today we didn’t have anywhere near the variety of triathlon gear to choose from back in “the day” so we just kept things simple.
I guess I’m dating myself but when I was in Penticton doing book-signings during Ironman Canada one year I overheard a conversation that brought back a lot of memories of the good old Speedo Ironman days.
This one aspiring Ironman said to his buddy, “can you imagine? There were guys who used to do the entire Ironman with just a Speedo and a running top on.”
“Hey”! I thought. “That’s me you’re talking about!”
It’s completely true. Except for that little Speedo and a flimsy running top we “were” darn near racing naked.
One year was particularly ugly when the temperature turned cold in the back of Richter’s Pass almost without warning and there was a driving rain and we were still hitting speeds of 50MPH(80k) going down the Yellow Lake Hill.
I can remember stopping at a roadside turn-off at the bottom of the hill because I couldn’t feel my arms or legs anymore. I wasn’t alone.
There must have been about 15 of us who had pulled off the course. Talk about biking naked. When I look back, you probably could have taken all the clothes all of us were wearing and put them in one plastic grocery bag.
I have to admit that it had it’s good points. Our wetsuits fit much better with just a swim suit underneath and believe me those transitions were lightning fast.
There is no doubt in my mind that women were fighting and kicking and biting to get to the front of the “wetsuit-stripper” volunteer line.
It was usually pretty hot on Ironman day in Penticton except for a few really bad years like the one I just mentioned where it turned brutally cold.
Actually it was great in the run to be wearing as little as possible. In later years when I switched to a tri-suit they would actually seemed hot and constricting to me.
I should also mention that those particular Speedo swimsuits were made for triathletes and had padding for the bike in the important areas. I mean not a lot, but at least it was something.
At the end of the bike there was always that same fleeting thought(and feeling or lack thereof), that you were somehow less of a man, but a few days later all was right with the world and it was like a bad dream that was soon forgotten.
Well, at least until the next Ironman.
One thing I will never forget about those years of biking and running in a Speedo on Ironman day was all the women spectators along the course who would whistle at us.
Yes sir! Those were the good old days.
It’s very strange to me how the sport has evolved and someone doing an Ironman in a Speedo these days would really be an exception and may even be viewed as a bit odd.
Every time I see an image of pro triathlete Faris Al-Sultan wearing a speedo and making the podium in yet another Ironman race I feel a certain amount of gratitude toward him.
He is such an amazing Ironman triathlete and he is showing the whole triathlon world that maybe wearing a Speedo is not so bad after all.
You’re the man Faris! I hope you never change your ways. You are making the Ironman Speedo crowd of yesteryear very proud.
I have a dream. When I am 70 years old I will cross the finish line of the Ironman Hawaii World Championships wearing a Speedo.
Sure, go ahead and laugh……But it’s not you the chicks will be whistling at on the Queen K. Highway.
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