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Go Robert! Go!
October 14, 2005 9:44 AM   Subscribe

The Ironman Triathlon based in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, involves a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride followed by a 26.2 mile marathon. This Saturday, Robert McKeague, at age 80, hopes to be the oldest person to finish Ironman Hawaii.
posted by Hanover Phist (23 comments total)

 
I was in Kailua-Kona two weeks before the triathalon in 2001 and was struck by how many older competitors there were. I hope I'll be in that kind of shape when I retire. Actually I wish I were in that kind of shape now!
posted by Songdog at 9:52 AM on October 14, 2005


Viagra can do anything!
posted by bardic at 9:57 AM on October 14, 2005


I don't know if they just did it this year but competitors are not allowed to draft off each other during the bike portion. Everyone must go it alone. That makes the race alot more difficult.

I'll hope Robert makes it, that's amazing that he's gonna give it a go. What a quality inspirational story he is!
posted by fenriq at 9:58 AM on October 14, 2005


I thought they ran in their underwear.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:10 AM on October 14, 2005


Love the Ironman. Cry like a baby each time NBC (or whomever) shows it. The human interest, the music, the sugarysweet tugging of the heartstrings. Crossing the finish line, thrill of victory, agony of defeat.
So yeah, pass the kleenex. I hope he makes it.
posted by willmize at 10:23 AM on October 14, 2005


this is actually what I hate. Can't we have sports for sports sake. The human interest stories make me ill. The real competitors who compete in any kind of endurance event or sport always get overshadowed by some dude who's missing a finger or some lady who's kids were eaten by a gorilla or something.

You know what I appreciate, people who are favored to win, they set up their life so they can compete in these events and then they win. They have nothing to prove and everything to lose. Everyone else is rooting for some dude who survived being abducted by aliens (illegal aliens) just one year earlier. I'm rooting for the person who is supposed to win and does. I have a lot more respect for that. Its not a life changing affirmation or some shit like that. Its a job and treated as such.
posted by LouieLoco at 10:39 AM on October 14, 2005


I'm with you, LouieLoco. The overly-produced, human-interest-sodden horseshit NBC puts on is unnecessary. The race is drama enough.

I'd very much like it if Al Trautwig and Bob Costas were stuck on a desert island to duel to the death. The weapon? Overdrawn hyperbole. The first one to make the other's head explode wins. Of course, we won't ever let the winner come home; that's the prize for the rest of us.
posted by RakDaddy at 10:56 AM on October 14, 2005


My sixtysomething friend is racing this year. I am in awe of her physical stamina, but also the mental fortitude that a race like this requires.

As for the "everyman" triathletes, I think they are the embodiment of the IronMan mantra "Anything is possible."
posted by annaramma at 10:59 AM on October 14, 2005


I can't see the appeal of an Ironman. I don't think the human body is at all intended to take that sort of abuse for that amount of time. Besides, it's not really a competition as it is just something to be endured. I would be more impressed by an 80 year old posting a competitive Olympic-length tri time than completing an ironman.

Still, good luck to him!
posted by Elpoca at 11:16 AM on October 14, 2005


I don't know if they just did it this year but competitors are not allowed to draft off each other during the bike portion. Everyone must go it alone. That makes the race alot more difficult.

It's almost always a rule in triathlons, except professional international Olympic distance triathlons.

However, they've recently relaxed the rule for pro's in Ironman (TM) races, allowing them to ride side-by-side.

it's not really a competition

With a few lottery and special-interest exceptions, everyone racing the Hawaii Ironman is there because they won their slots in qualifying races around the world. Generally, you have to finish in the top 10 or so in your age group in a very competitive qualifying race to even get the chance to race in Hawaii. (They only award a few per age group but not everyone can go to Hawaii for the race so they sometimes roll-down through the top-10.) The qualifying races each have 1000-2000 competitors, sell out a year in advance and only give away a few dozen slots (at most).
posted by probablysteve at 11:52 AM on October 14, 2005


Please don't say Al Trautwig. He ruined the OLN TdF coverage for the past several years, hasn't he done enough? Fenriq - they have never been allowed to draft each other in the cycling leg. It's probably for the best, as triathletes are some of the worst bike riders I have ever seen. I regularly ride with a 70+ gentleman who has been training for the Ironman and who will be competing. He's a great guy, a prostate cancer survivor, and I wish him well. He just has a hard time going in a straight line in a group of riders.
posted by fixedgear at 11:52 AM on October 14, 2005


In other words, most of the people in Hawii are not just enduring, they are racing.
posted by probablysteve at 11:53 AM on October 14, 2005


I often mow the yard after my afternoon bike ride so I can dig it.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:33 PM on October 14, 2005


In other words, most of the people in Hawii are not just enduring, they are racing.

Point taken. My comment was more about Ironmans in general, though.
posted by Elpoca at 1:22 PM on October 14, 2005


triathletes are some of the worst bike riders I have ever seen.

As a triathlete, I have to say we laugh at this attitude from single-si. It's true that triathletes are rarely excellent bikers, swimmers, or runners and do not perform as well as the elites in any of those sports. However, the elites in any of those sports usually really suck as triathletes.

It's a different sport, with different principles. In multisport it's not about being highly specialized -- it's about being well-rounded, establishing endurance, and achieving total body fitness. The point is not to be a better biker than an elite biker -- it's to be a better swimmer and runner than an elite biker. Which isn't that hard.

Older people actually do quite well in triathlon, because success in the sport depends quite a bit on wisdom. You need good psychological control, strong focus, patience, and strategic thinking, all skills that improve with experience.

AS much as some people seem to hate the 'huiman interest' angle, I think its pretty important. These stories are what get new people into sports. Seeing someone out there with whom you can identify is quite powerful. And no one is denying the young, hardworking competitors their attention -- if you really care about their stories, you can find a bunch of them every single month in Inside Triathlon or Triathlete. It's not like there's a shortage of press about them. But you have to remember that though those athletes are exceptional, they're not unusual, so they're just not as newsworthy in the layperson's eyes.
posted by Miko at 1:23 PM on October 14, 2005


'single-si' = typo for 'single-sport people'.
posted by Miko at 1:24 PM on October 14, 2005


This is so cool, I thought there was an 82 yr contestant of the IronMan in previous years but I probably have the exact event mixed up. He was shilling for some company on TV.

I think people's annoyance, or at least mine, with the human interest reporting during sporting coverage that seems to permeate US sport coverage is that it detracts from the reporting of the sport in progress. I was watching an american feed of hockey last week and the announcers were talking about how the backup up goal tender's home town is a really nice place and not to touristy instead of calling the freaking game. And then they came off as offended that their story was interupted when one of the teams scored a goal and they couldn't ignore the ice any longer.
posted by Mitheral at 1:39 PM on October 14, 2005


The overly-produced, human-interest-sodden horseshit NBC puts on is unnecessary.

It's the female-ization of TV. See everything's gotta be warm&fuzzy now or it doesn't mean anything. Your local news channel will spend several times longer on a story about some kid being transported out of town for specialized medical care than about a major disaster somewhere else. Australia could be sinking into the ocean and they'll toss off an 'in other news' comment about it after a half hour covering a local charity event, a segment on school-yard bullys, and a survey regarding the quality of nursing home care.
posted by scheptech at 2:22 PM on October 14, 2005


As a triathlete, I have to say we laugh at this attitude from single-si

As a triathlete, I think (hope) that the point that was trying to be made was that triathletes are unaccustomed to riding in groups; not that triathletes can't perform well.
posted by Elpoca at 2:24 PM on October 14, 2005


As a triathlete, I have to say we laugh at this attitude from single-sport...

Yeah, that should have read bike-handlers since their riding is often very strong. It's just that their group riding skills are non-existent.
posted by fixedgear at 2:45 PM on October 14, 2005


WRT the Iron Man - I swim and bike a bit. I *think* I could do that distance in swimming. (Maybe.) I could do the biking distance - I'd just need about 10 days. Seriously, I've thought about trying shorter distance swim/bike biathlons.

But it's unimaginable to me that they then top the Iron Man off with a pleasant little marathon. [I did PR for a big-city marathon a couple years. On event day I'd be working at the finish line, watching people throw up. Ick.]

It's the female-ization of TV.

Please don't tell me he just blamed *everything* that's wrong with TV on women.

Lots of women have mixed feelings about the sugary human interest phluff aired during sportscasts. And we definitely detest all the unrelated babbling by sports commentators. In addition, I loathe the "pretty blonde abductee of the week" news stories.

We could speculate on a number of reasons sports and news reporting have taken that trend - among them, TPTB's *perception* that it sells to women.
posted by NorthernLite at 4:43 PM on October 14, 2005


Did anybody figure out how to actually watch this on TV? I'm in the northeastern US and I didn't spot it. I have heard it might be broadcast a week later; maybe I'll catch it then if I can find it.
posted by Songdog at 8:20 AM on October 17, 2005


It's the female-ization of TV

That makes no sense, since the vast majority of sports viewers are still men, as are the commentators. If they're doing this, it's because men are liking it, and advertisers know it.
posted by Miko at 6:16 AM on October 18, 2005


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