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Countdown To Kona: Fantasy Island (1994)

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With the Ironman World Championship set to take place 15 days from today, we take a look at back at each race from the past three decades. Today, we go back to 1994 and the year Greg Welch finally won the world’s most important triathlon. All of the following photos and text are taken from the book, “30 Years of The Ironman Triathlon World Championship” by Bob Babbitt.

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Greg Welch pulled the Timex rep over and proudly showed him the messages he had typed into his new 100-lap watch. Two things he never, ever wanted to forget. One was for the love of his life: I love Sian. The other? It was for the fantasy of a lifetime: Win Ironman.

The gap went from 20 seconds to 12 in the blink of an eye. Welch didn’t even need to look. He could hear the breathing, the applause, the “You da man!” shouts and that oh, so familiar duck-like foot strike.

It’s hard to hide when you’re sauntering through the lava fields wearing a matching peach-colored singlet and swimsuit. Dave Scott was so close Welch could damn near smell the guy. Look back? No way. Remember the first commandment from Racing 101? Thou shalt never look. A definite sign of weakness, a message to the chaser that yes, there is a major concern.

No, the best response is to be oblivious, to ignore impending doom. “Who am I?” Welch scolded himself again and again, with Scott looming full frame in the rear-view mirror. “Who the hell am I?”

To see the complete Countdown To Kona series click here.