The vast majority of society remain content to lead quiet lives, replete with as much comfort and pleasure as possible. But a small portion of earth’s population answers to a different call.
Nobody knows what drives some people to test the limits of human endurance, to climb a mountain just because, to strengthen their bodies to their full potential, and to brave the harshest landscapes that humans have walked, but they do it anyway.
The standard Ironman triathlon requires each racer to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 122 miles, and wrap it all up with a traditional marathon. These races are some of the most grueling challenges that humans have ever accomplished. Just completing an Ironman triathlon is the dream of athletes all over the world.
It all began in 1977 on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Professional runners and swimmers had long debated who was the fittest, but before the Oahu perimeter race that year, Sports Illustrated published an article claiming Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx had the highest oxygen intake of any person ever recorded. And so the feuding athletes decided they would incorporate all three long-distance disciplines into one race.
The Oahu perimeter race was coordinated by US Navy Commander John Collins, As racers lined up at the starting line that fateful day, he distributed paper instructions to every participant that read: “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life.” US Navy man Gordon Haller took home the first title that summer, and from that point forward, a tradition began.
People who bear the Ironman symbol have either completed an Ironman triathlon, or have made a promise to themselves that one day, they will cross the finish line.