Ironman Hawaii Kona 1984……a triathlon story.
Kona 1984 was where I began my Ironman career.
I was Ironstruck and just knew I had to cross the finish line of the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon.
How about you? When was that moment when “you” were Ironstruck? Anyone who ever reached the Ironman Triathlon finish line is sure to have a story to tell about how they got to the start line in the first place.
I remember with profound clarity the day my Ironman experience began–the day I was “Ironstruck.”
I was watching my favorite t.v. show—Wide World of Sports.
It was Fall, 1982. It was then I had my first glimpse, my first experience, with the Ironman Triathlon. Like many of you might be, I was a runner. Triathlon was a foreign word to me. But from that moment on I had a date with Kona 1984.
There was the remarkable swim start and I couldn’t believe what I was watching. I had never seen anything like it. In my wildest dreams I couldn’t imagine a 2.4 mile swim.
Then swimmer after swimmer coming out of the water. They disappear into big tents and change and a steady procession of bikes head out of Kona and onto the highway.
I remember the announcer saying, “and now they have 112 miles to bike”. “Amazing”, I thought. Then another change and back on the road to run a full marathon. It was about here that I thought these people were truly nuts.
Just the same, I was in awe and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I couldn’t begin to imagine what they were experiencing.
Now the cameras pan back into Kona as the first runners arrive. Until finally its the first woman. It’s Julie Moss and she is obviously in big trouble.
Just feet from the finish line she collapses over and over. She is even passed by another woman as she lay there. I can remember willing her to get up. To get across that line. And she does.
After watching my very first Ironman on television that day, my life changed forever. I was “Ironstruck.” I just knew that one day I had to cross that finish line. It hit me then that there were a few minor obstacles.
First I had a deep rooted fear of the water and couldn’t swim a stroke. Secondly, I had never been on any sort of “road bike.” Actually, I hadn’t been on any sort of bike since I was twelve years old.
So there I was in my thirties taking swimming lessons devised for beginner kids. Just letting go of the side of the pool was a terrifying experience.
I can clearly remember the instructor saying, “you’ll have to let go of the side of the pool if you want to be an Ironman!”
I spent most of 1983 to compete in Kona 1984. Wow! The Kona Ironman Triathlon! I could hardly believe the journey I was embarking on.
Slowly as the weeks flew by, my confidence grew and I swam my first length. Well, it was a width. A week later it was a length. That’s how I spent the better part of 1983 until in early 1984 my first length was now 2 miles in the pool.
My entry for the Kona 1984 Ironman Triathlon was in the mail. As a Canadian, I could enter as a foreign contestant in those early days. In two weeks, it was official—I was in.
I bought myself a new $300 road bike that some company had slapped a triathlon decal on. It was a hunk of steel that weighed just less then a compact car. I was all set. I was on my way to Kona 1984 Look out Hawaii, here I come.
However, the closer the big day came, the more I doubted my own sanity, but I just tried to push my fears to the back of my mind. Then one day,I was there. Knee deep in the warm Kona waters.
It was eerily silent as a priest blessed the event. Somehow, that seemed so appropriate.
Twelve hundred athletes and thousands of spectators stood there and all you could hear were the five media helicopters hovering in the distance.
Then the anthem…and the cannon. And so it began, my very first Ironman Triathlon.
It was a moment in time that would set my life on a new course that continues on to this day as I near my 28th anniversary of that sensational morning in Kona.
In fact, it was that race that ultimately resulted in you reading this page, because the seed for Ironstruck was first planted that Fall morning in Kona, 1984.
There is no doubt in my mind that experience is indeed the best teacher. So many of us have knowledge that we can pass on to others that is invaluable and worth it’s weight in gold.
Hopefully what I pass on from all the mistakes I have made in my Ironman career will help you in your journey.
We at Ironstruck would be glad to help you reach your triathlon goals whatever they happen to be. Feel free to contact us with your questions anytime you like.