10 Top Kona Moments

Looking back at some of the epic moments from the Ironman World Championship.

| October 14, 2017 | RACES

Chrissie Wellington takes the Ironman World Championship title in 2011.

Chrissie Wellington takes the Ironman World Championship title in 2011.

Photo >Frank Wechsel / spomedis

Ironman racers are tough guys and girls. We can withstand almost anything, but throw an Ironman DVD on and most turn into a blubbering mess (sometimes). The Ironman coverage each year has become a major production. Film crews scour the lava fields and the competitor lists to see what inspiration they can draw. And all countries do it. For the purposes of our list, we've stuck to the big daddy of Ironman races, the Ironman World Championship. .

  1. Julie Moss' crawl - Without a doubt this 1982 epic made the most dramatic viewing. There she was, an unknown who was in the race for research rather than a win, breaking down with just two miles to go, all captured on the ABC cameras. Julie's remarkable pluck to finish, along with her survival instincts, kick in to see her make it to the line. Julie is passed by Kathleen McCartney as she is oblivious to what's happening to her. The effect this has on the world of sport, and Ironman in particular, is still evident today.
  2. Ironwar - If you ever want to see a race that will stir your competitive nature, then slip this one into the DVD player. The 1989 Ironman World Championship featured the dream match up, Mark Allen versus Dave Scott. Two guys from opposing worlds. One, all dominant on the Big Island, whereas the other is searching for win number one. The epic battle vision is only surpassed by the insanely brilliant commentary. Sure, it's a little cheeseball,,but it's so fitting. With gems like, "Allen and Scott blow by Dietrich like he's standing still and three become two. The race this sport has waited for has begun" filling the airwaves, watching this will make you want to shave down and run through brick walls!
  3. Rick and Dick Hoyt finish Hawaii - If you have never heard of Rick and Dick Hoyt, get onto Google. Trust me, they're an essay in team work, commitment and passion. High School football star marries cheerleader and give birth to Rick, who soon after developed cerebral palsy. The family decided that they would raise him as close to a "normally-abled" child as possible and, in 1979 they entered a race with Dick pushing Rick along in a wheelchair. Their 1989 epic of finishing Hawaii is nothing short of amazing viewing. The bike that Dick has to pedal while Rick rides onboard a specially constructed seat looks ridiculously hard to steer, let alone make the time cut off on. These guys have gone on to do great things and will always rate highly on our list.
  4. Sian Welch/Wendy Ingraham crawl to the line - When Julie Moss cracked at the finish of her race she was a rookie with no idea how to train or race an Ironman. When both Wendy Ingraham and Sian Welch melted down years later in 1997, they were professionals and should have known how to keep themselves afloat. But it's easy to say that from the cheap seats. This finish has to be seen to be believed. Both athletes quite literally crawl to the line and seem transfixed in their own dehydrated state. The 1,000 yard stare was in full effect! What's even worse to watch is a frantic Greg Welch, who knows only too well the dangers of what's unfolding, trying to call his wife across. The end result is Sian Welch almost tapping out like a wrestler to pass out completely. Husband Greg does a very nice job of the clean and jerk and carries her off, while Ingraham is similarly taken away to recover.
  5. Normann Stadler meltdown -After some stunning performances in 2004, where he was something of a demolition man, destroying the field on the bike and then running away with victory, Stadler was touted as being "the man" in 2005. Again it seemed the scales were tipped in the riders' favor, raising questions over the importance of a super fast bike. But, while he was so dominant the year before, the bike in '05 was not kind to Normann. Bleeding from a bee sting to the leg and trying to fix his second flat of the day with a stick (the neutral service van was out of sight) proved to be too much for the defending champion as he quit the race, tears flowing in sheer frustration as he appeared mentally tapped and unable to deal rationally with the situation. Faris Al Sultan went on to take full advantage to win, whereas Stadler was forced to wait another full year before reclaiming his title.
  6. Chrissie Wellington - This footage from 2007 is just very "special" (sorry Bruce). An athlete who nobody knew much about winning her first ever crack at Kona. Some spotters on the course thought she was an age grouper who had taken a wrong turn, others were sent scrambling for the athlete guides to find out who this girl was. Those in the know, namely her training group, nodded knowingly, not surprised of what was unfolding. As time has gone on, we now know how good this girl from the UK was. She was inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame this year.
  7. Greg Welch wins - This is significant for a couple of reasons: the first being that Welchy was the first person to break the US domination of the Hawaiian Ironman. The little man from Sydney wrote his name into the ledgers of Ironman immortality with this win. The second reason is the finish itself. Watch the last part of his run and you will witness a moment of pure joy. Bowing to crowd and blowing kisses lead to the trademark leap over the line. One of those thoroughly enjoyable viewing moment.
  8. Jurgen Zack's helmet- At the 1997 Ironman World Championsihp, Geman "uber biker" Jurgen Zack came into T1 after a great swim, however, his chin strap buckle appeared to be broken or missing. Quite a bizarre set of events, but like all good things on an Ironman video, we see the graphic scenes of panic unfold as Zack frantically yells…."Helmet, HELMET, HELMET". The Hawaii express (front group of professionals) was leaving and Zack was stranded. Watching this is excruciating because we all know just how frustrating an equipment issue would be in these kind of circumstances.
  9. Cristan Bustos, the shepherd - In 1992 Chile's Cristian Bustos made a huge leap forward in Ironman racing to finish second to the winner, Mark Allen. As the coverage unfolded, a rumor took hold that he was a shepherd and sold sheep in order to race and the TV people were lapping it up! What a story .. a man who had to sell livestock to get to race. Of course there were no sheep and no yard sales, but hey, never let the truth get in the way of a great story!
  10. Over the top nicknames dreamt up by the ABC crew - The early 90's saw some hard Ironman racing and a brace of characters. To pump up these "Gods of the Lava," the crews started to assign names and beat up the rivalries. Names like "The Grip," "The Terminator" and "The Man" weren't just reserved for Saturday morning cartoons. Then came all the slogans and catch cries, like the "Welch Weaponry" (referring to his bike and nutrition plan) and Pauli Kiuru's favourite "Sisu" which apparently is Finnish for never give up. These guys were all about it, but hey, if it makes for a good show, then bring it on!