Thirty years ago, an adventurous crew of Hawaiians ventured out for a day's worth of swimming, biking and running along the shores of Honolulu. Meant purely as a fun challenge for bragging rights, the men had no clue that they were about to launch one of the world's most prestigious athletic events - the Ironman Triathlon. Today, nearly 2,000 of the world's fittest women and men descend upon the Aloha State each year to test themselves in the famous 40.6-mile odyssey: a 2.4-mile Pacific Ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon in a classic battle against the sweltering heat - and themselves.
Ironman Triathlon World Championship
And this year's Ford Ironman World Championship
, held in October, lacked no drama or demonstrations of pure grit. You can catch all of the action this Saturday, December 13 on NBC from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. ET. So tune in — or set those DVRs — and be prepared to be amazed and inspired by the following athletes and many, many more!
Ironman triathlete Chrissie Wellington
Last year, Chrissie Wellington was a virtual unknown in the world of triathlons, having turned professional just before the 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship. But after her shocking victory in the race, Wellington walked away with $100,000 in prize money — and a pile of pressure to prove her fast finish wasn't a fluke. Will Wellington win again? Tune in to find out!
Ironman triathlete Harriet Anderson
Who says you have to be a fit 20- or 30-something to complete an Ironman? Just ask Harriet Anderson, who at age 72, was the oldest female participant in this year's race. She's been at it for nearly two decades and has taken the top prize in her age group numerous times. Her biggest challenge? Crossing the finish line before the official race cut-off time of 17 hours. Check out the broadcast to find out if she makes it.
Ironman triathlete Sean Swarner
Sean Swarner was in his hospital bed battling terminal cancer when he vowed to complete the Ironman. This year, the 34-year-old set out to do just that, despite only having one functioning lung. Even more amazing? Swarmer has also climbed the highest mountain on each continent, including Mt Everest. Break out the Kleenex and watch Swarmer's emotional quest to conquer his next challenge.
Are you an aspiring triathlete?
If these stories make you want your own piece of the Ironman Triathlon action, check out Ironman.com
for news and details about the Hawaii race as well as the many other Ironman events held around the world each year.
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