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Every man can become an Ironman

Date : 01 March 2023

If someone had to tell you that they had to swim for about 4 kilometres, cycle for 180kms AND run a full marathon in ONE day, you would call them mad man right? But you’d be wrong, they would be an Ironman!

This one-day racing event became official many years ago, originating in Hawaii, in February 1978, with just 15 athletes competing for the title of the world’s fittest athlete. For the next few years it grew in popularity, and now stands at over 170 triathlons worldwide each year!

But what is it about this gruelling event that draws so many aspiring athletes to take on this superhero- like challenge? Back in 1982, still in its teething stages but steadily growing in numbers, a 22 year old athlete by the name of Julie Moss harrowingly crossed the finish line. Not wearing proper athletic attire, sporting a trucker’s hat and a borrowed bra, this young lady’s struggle to crawl and collapse with her arms across the finish line, after her race falling apart in the last kilometre, drew so much attention from the media back then.

People all over the globe were asking, “How is Julie Moss?”. Although she made a full recovery from her race, it was witnessing her grit and determination to cross that finish line that got people talking and ultimately inspired. Bob Babbitt, one of the 15 athlete’s to compete in the very first Ironman competition summed it up perfectly when he said, "It's 1982, and a lot of people have gone through high school, gone through college, gotten their jobs, started their family, and they're pretty comfortable, but there's something missing… And then they're watching this woman crawling to get to the finish line and thinking to themselves, 'How do I get some of that passion in my life?'" Simple, combine three ultra- distance sporting activities into one!

Moss’s heroic finish sparked a worldwide demand for more triathlon races and once the event was added to the Olympics in 2000, the triathlon craze really caught on.  As mentioned earlier, there are over 170 triathlons yearly across more than 55 countries worldwide, with thousands of participants proving that anything is possible. With the Ironman African Championships happening on our doorstep here in Gqeberha,  perhaps YOU could have some of that passion in your life and become an Ironman!