We don’t usually report on actual sporting events, however we thought we could have a close look at the Ironman Triathlon sport, the sportsman and his equipment. It’s different from our usual reviews, but we hope you enjoy?
Photo By: Christian Reed
What Is an Ironman?
An Ironman Triathlon must be one of the hardest single day sports events in the world. How did it all start?
Well, the sport of Triathlon started in Southern California with multi-sport events, including swimming, cycling and running, but Ironman grew out of Triathlon by extending the lengths of each event to extreme endurance distances. The first, and probably the most famous, Ironman Triathlon was held in 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Tri sport all came about due to an ongoing argument between runners and swimmers as to which group was the fittest, then a U.S. commander pointed out that cyclists had the best oxygen uptake of any athletes, so maybe they were the fittest!
So the first Ironman was invented and took place by combining the Waikiki Roughwater Swim which was 2.4 miles long, then adding the Around-Oahu Bike Ride which was 112 miles long and was originally a two day event and then the Honolulu Marathon which is 26.2 miles.
Those first competitors where given the handwritten race rules on three sheets of paper, the last page read: – “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life”, now a registered trademark.
The first winner from 15 entrants on the 18th of February 1978 was Gordon Haller in a time of 11 hours, 46 minutes and 40 seconds, Haller was the first Ironman.
The first Ironwoman was Lyn Lemaire in the next year’s event. For the 25th anniversary, in 2003, of the Hawaii Ironman, the event had nearly 1,500 entrants, so from 15 to 1,500 athletes, Ironman has come a long way, triathlon is now an Olympic sport and now we also have Ironman 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 run) which is a shorter version and proving very popular.
Who Enters Ironman Events?
Swimmers who want to try running and cycling and runners and cyclists who just like the swimmers want to try other disciplines. Look at Lance Armstrong, he started as a Triathlete and went on to great things in cycling and there are many cyclists, swimmers and runners who have very successfully turned to Triathlons and Ironman events.
What About Alex Mroszczyk-McDonald?
Alex was born in Woodstock and was brought up watching his father compete in Triathlons and Marathons. When at college he was playing Water Polo and doing a bit of running before going on to medical school in Burlington where he started Triathlon and within three years he was U.S. age group Champion in 2006 and 5th overall at the Wisconsin Ironman in a time of 9 hours 33 minutes.
In 2007 he joined the Timex Multisport team and won the 2007 Ironman USA Championships at Lake Placid. He finishes medical school in the spring of 2008 and will race as a professional Triathlete.
Alex the Champion
How Did Alex Win The Lake Placid Championship? Case Study
We saw the performance of Alex Mroszczyk-McDonald, who compete’s for the Timex Tri team and rides a Trek, in the Lake Placid Ironman a few years ago.
With a lot of hard work, that’s for sure! From his own description “the gun went off and the pummeling began.” As always in important Triathlons it’s a fight to get to the front of the swim section, Alex managed to save energy and come out of the water in 24th position, but with an exceptionally fast transition to the bike section he moved up to 10th as he started cycling.
Alex was hoping he would have a good bike section, he found it tough going and had a time of 5 hours 17 minutes 54 seconds, which was good enough to move him up to 5th place, twelve and a half minutes behind the leader, although Alex was unhappy as he wanted to ride nearer to five hour, but with the head wind this was not to be.
His second transition was so fast that he made up a minute as he went in to the Marathon run. His run was solid and continuously gained time on the leader catching the other runners with every footfall, so by the 19th mile he only had a deficit of 28 seconds on the front runner, moving in to the lead with the last 6 miles in front of him.
At the finish his time for the Championship was 9 hours, 16 minutes and 2 seconds, running a sub three hour final Marathon. Awesome!
What Equipment Does He Use?
For the swim Alex uses Blue Seventy goggles and wetsuit, the goggles are comfortable and give you a choice of five different lenses colors for different conditions, the wetsuits are probably the best available for Tri sport, RST neoprene gives buoyancy and flexibility and quick exit legs and cuffs for that fast first transition.
Alex rides a Trek TTX Carbon with Shimano Ultegra and Bontrager equipment and wheels, the Aero Lo-Pro bars are from Profile Designs. The glasses he wears on the bike and on the run sections are from Rudy Project who manufactures many designs with many different lenses, but Alex was using Rydon which has a choice of 14 different lenses and can take RX lenses too. His Aero helmet is also from Rudy Project, comfort and aerodynamics being the most important facets.
Brooks make some of the best running shoes around; they use the best technologies and the most luxurious materials with incredible cushioning. Alex also uses the new Helium Fuel Belt for the run, sipping concentrated calories through out the run section.
Alex is a strong athlete, that’s for sure, but it takes a lot of training, the best preparation and top equipment to swim/ride/run at his level, but you can do the same to a lower degree with less expense. Triathlon is hard and a very rewarding sport, maybe its time to give it a try?
If you want to learn more about Alex Mroszczyk McDonald, check out his web-site alexmmtri.com