There are ironmen...and then there are moronmen who wish they were ironmen. This account is dedicated to the latter.

" dusk approached, I started wheezing out that lick ‘I am Ironman,’ imagining what it would feel like to cross the finish line. I tried to get the syllables in sync with each painful step, but my parched lips stuck together, and it came out as ‘I am Moronman!’ Perhaps that was more fitting after all..."

(click to enlarge image)

Swim 2.4 miles
Bike 112 miles
Run 26.2 miles

Got an ironman on your bucket list? Well, think again...or think it through...or at least think...

Here's the alternative:

Julie Moss, the agony of defeat icon, got passed at the last minute while literally crawling to the finish line of the 1982 Ironman triathlon in Hawaii. Fifteen years later – finding herself in her forties – she returned to Kona to give it another shot. What drove her to seek out more punishment?

“There's something so noble, so dignified about the Ironman competitor who carries on in the dark,” she told a reporter, “I want an experience like that, too.” 

Frankly, she's nuts. I’ve been there now (both nuts and in the dark), and my account doesn't include any form of the words nobility or dignity. Here's how it went:


Back when break-dancers in parachute pants were judged by the size of their ghetto blasters, I sat at home one day flipping channels between Saturday morning cartoons and American Bandstand. A scrawny kid with a Midwest mullet, I was the only kid in my junior high school deprived of cable television; since the brand new phenomenon called MTV wasn’t among my four channel choices, on most Saturdays the inevitable afternoon lineup of golf, game shows, bowling, and PBS telethons would finally convince me to shut off the TV and head outside. But this day was destined to be different: The familiar bars of ABC’s Wide World of Sports intervened, and our big old Zenith TV kept right on flickering. The Ironman was in the lineup, and the broadcast came complete with gratuitous replays of Ms. Moss’ famous finish.

They say this particular footage can be used to divide mankind into two groups: Group 1 will see it as the ultimate test of endurance and will be convinced to try it for themselves. They’ll use the footage as their motivation. Group 2 will be convinced that Group 1 is somewhere between masochistic and suicidal on the crazy scale. They’ll use the footage as their justification.

Apparently I spent some cocky teenage years as a member of Group 1, because on the next commercial break, I got out a piece of paper and started a list of things to do before I die:


“#1. Finish an Ironman.”


 That seemed easy enough, so I kept right on going, jotting down one tremendously optimistic goal after another. When my new bucket list looked complete, I added a nuclear clause and taped it up on my wall. The nuclear clause, of course, exempted me from completing my list if Reagan and Gorbachev couldn’t work out their differences and I ended up with radiation poisoning. Barring that, however, I fully intended to spend the rest of my life in pursuit of my new goals.

Well “The Day After” never came...   [click below to continue]

Crawling to the finish line

Additional links:

This account was originally written when Kara Douglass Thom was collecting stories from other "First Encounters with the Ultimate Endurance Event" for her book Becoming an Ironman. Well, being Moronman, I didn't finish my contribution in time, so I've posted it online instead.


Related books:


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