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Countdown To Kona: Ironhead (October 1982)

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With the Ironman World Championship set to take place 27 days from today, we take a look at back at each race from the past three decades. Today, we look back at the first race to take place in October, and get a peak at how the rivalry between Dave Scott and Mark Allen developed. All of the following photos and text are taken from the book, “30 Years of The Ironman Triathlon World Championship” by Bob Babbitt.

Editor’s Note: Because of the amazing growth of the event and the increasing demand from all over the world, in 1982 a second Ironman was added in October to give athletes from colder climates an opportunity to participate.

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Written by: Mike Plant

From 1982 on, the Ironman would be held in October on the Saturday closest to the full moon.

Mark Allen was a raw rookie, a first time, wet behind the years. Dave Scott had already won the Ironman once and finished second once.

Scott was in his usual position on the way to Hawi. He was leading. Allen, cycling smoothly, pulled up next to Scott and Proceeded to try and make small talk.

“Hey, what do you say we go for a run after this?” jokes Allen.

Scott was not amused.

“Dave clicked into another gear and took off,” remembers Allen. “I tried to do the same but something wasn’t right. My derailleur broke and I was left on the side of the road as Dave rode away from me.”

It was the first encounter between the two and it set a tone. Scott dominated the day, outsplitting second-place finisher Scott Tinley in the swim, bike and the run and winning by over 20 minutes. Twenty minutes ahead of second place, 10 minutes ahead of the course record, Scott swam, rode and ran every mile as if he had some terrible beast panting at his heels.

Allen would be back to race another day.

Unfortunately for him, so would Scott.

During the marathon, young Julie Leach was leading, but wrestling with her inner demons. She could hear the helicopter overhead. She had just passed defending champion Kathleen McCartney going in opposite directions less than a mile from the turnaround and felt her lead slipping away.

“I thought she’d catch me at 18, 19 or 20 miles,” says Leach. “But I told myself if it wasn’t until 24 miles, I was going to go for it.” She did and ended up with a four-minute cushion at the end. But it was never easy.

“It was miserable” Leach says. “You count every mile and every aid station. You think ‘When is this going to end?’” she admits. “Four hours of running. Can you believe that? Six hours of biking and fours of running. That’s stupid. Insane. Ironhead.”

But her green eyes were sparkling and her strong, angled face was grinning. What she meant was Iron Heart and there was one of those beating in the chests of all 776 finishers. You don’t get to be an Ironman without one.

To see the complete Countdown To Kona series click here.