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Countdown To Kona: The Killing Fields (1993)

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With the Ironman World Championship set to take place 16 days from today, we take a look at back at each race from the past three decades. Today, we go back to 1993. 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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He lies on a cot, an IV replenishing a vein in his left arm. His breathing is slow and methodical. Chest in… chest out. The left eye is closed, the right at half mast. His quadriceps spasm sporadically, first the right, then the left. The white remnants of salty sweat surround his singlet and the top of each running hoes is coated with blood.

Mark Allen looks like he was just beaten up in an alley.

A prize fight leaves visible wounds. A lump under the eye, a swollen cheekbone, legs that wobble and cease to function, a gash on the forehead. The purpose of the game is to seek and destroy, and the one who inflicts the most damage wins.

The Gatorade Ironman is more subtle: 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.2 miles of running in the heat and wind of the Kona Coast. It seems like civilized torture, just a case of yuppie excess. But if you look close you can see beyond the veneer. The pain is there, and the blows are real.

Don’t kid yourself. Up front where the rewards are huge, the demands and the pressure are immense. The purpose is to debilitate, to intimidate… to annihilate.

As the four-time defending champion, Allen was a moving target all day long. A moving target who dug so deep into his reserves, into his soul, that he had absolutely nothing left.

To see the complete Countdown To Kona series click here.