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Twelve Years Plus Two: My History At The IRONMAN World Championship

Some of you might know a few snippets about my history at the IRONMAN. Does 1989 ring a bell? That was my first victory.

What about the other five championships. Did you know the pieces about my history at the IRONMAN in those races where I wanted to just quit? Yes, I was tested endlessly to see if I would continue even in the face of impossibility.

How about this part of my history at the IRONMAN. I raced it six times with zero victories before I was finally blessed with one of the greatest races of my life in 1989 against Dave Scott. Did you know I was tied for the lead in my first IRONMAN in 1982 but had to drop out? Or what about the part of my history at the IRONMAN that sent me to the hospital with internal bleeding? They are all critical parts of my history at the IRONMAN. And I want to share them all with you!

Leading then losing in 1987 was devastating. I didn’t have a coach to help me get past it. So on my own it took nearly two years.

I’ll be recounting Twelve Years Plus Two with you over the next few weeks. Each blog will reveal the struggles, the triumphs and a lot of  rare pieces of my history at the IRONMAN that I am sure you have never heard before.

My journey was inspired by something that many in the early 1980’s saw that fueled the dream to race in Kona. It was the 1982 IRONMAN and the last-minute crumble of women’s leader Julie Moss. It was also seeing hundreds of seemingly ordinary people doing something absolutely extraordinary: they were crossing the IRONMAN finish line!

We often take that feat for granted today. Hundreds of thousands of people have completed the distance. But at the time it looked like something only a super being should be capable of accomplishing. It inspired me.

A few weeks after seeing the race on television something inside of me knew I had to be part of that extraordinary race in that amazing place. I said, “I have to race the IRONMAN!”

It was that single thought that became one of the most significant turning points in my life. It became a journey that was built one workout at a time, one year at a time. And for sure I would have thought you had lost your mind if you told me right then and there that I would go to the start line twelve times and win it six of them!


My travels through the sport may look calculated and predictable from the outside. It was not. My successes can appear automatic, almost hardwired because of some amazing genetic toolbox that I possessed. That is far from the truth. You may think my greatest successes were the wins. But the truth is that so many of the challenges that I had to overcome were the most precious gold I ever mined at the IRONMAN.

I’ll be sharing my journey with you in these thirteen blogs to come in the next weeks.  I hope they serve to spark something deep inside of you that you will see must come out. I hope it inspires a great journey for you.


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