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Countdown To Kona: Passing The Torch (1997)

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With the Ironman World Championship set to take place 12 days from today, we take a look at back at each race from the past three decades. Today, we go back to 1997 and the year Heather Fuhr crossed the line in first, representing a new generation of Ironman athletes. 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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Written by: Tim Carlson

It’s a long way from the lonely, brutal heat of the Queen K Highway on Ironman Day to the homestretch in Barcelona where Carl Lewis is quivering to get the stick to wrap up the gold in the 400-meter relay. But no matter how individual the Ironman is, no matter how the rules say clearly there are no pacers, no rabbits and no relay teams – still, a virtual baton was passed on mile 12 of the 21st Ironman.

Unlike most passes on the course, where the overtaking runners dispatch their prey like matadors placing the knife between the shoulders of the bull, this handoff was done with love. Heather Fuhr, the shy Canadian from Edmonton, Alberta, caught up to her training partner, mentor, close friend – and, coincidentally the legend who has won this race eight times – Paula Newby-Fraser.

To see the complete Countdown To Kona series click here.