x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Iron War: when Ironman became a two-way endurance struggle

Matt Fitzgerald chronicles a duel in the sun between two triathletes at 1989's Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.

On October 14, 1989, triathletes Mark Allen and Dave Scott, having already endured a 3.8km swim and a 180km bike ride, were neck-and-neck as they neared the end of a full-length 42km marathon run.

Then, after eight punishing hours of racing and with temperatures reaching 40C, one of the pair battled through their unimaginable exhaustion to sprint away to victory.

For sports journalist Matt Fizgerald this epic duel in the sun at that year’s Ironman World Championship in Hawaii was, in his words, “the greatest race of all time”. Generally, the author convinces us of his lofty claims, with an absorbing insight into how the fierce rivalry between these two competitors led to the drama of the day.

However, Iron War is by no means perfect. Firstly, Fitzgerald includes numerous chapters on the science of endurance running that are tedious digressions. Secondly, it’s worth noting that both Scott and Allen have publicly complained about glaring inaccuracies in the author’s version of events.

Nevertheless, even if Fitzgerald has taken some liberties with the truth, at least he’s aiming to grant these virtually unknown athletes the acclaim their exertions undoubtedly deserve.