Two Big Island originals are coming home to race the 30th anniversary event
Published Monday, May 14, 2012
Two of Ironman’s original leading ladies are returning to Kona this October. We followed them to Nytro Multisport in California, where they each received brand-new Cannondales for the months of training to come.
by Jennifer Ward Barber
Thirty years ago, a college woman named Julie Moss made history by crawling her way across the finish line of a grueling race in Hawaii. Over the coming years, that Big Island suffer-fest in 1982 would evolve into the famed Ironman World Championships—held every October in Kona and attracting the world’s best triathletes.
This year, Moss and Kathleen McCartney, the woman who passed her that year to take first, have decided to return to Kona to race the 30th anniversary event together.
“I’ve always wanted to do the Ironman again and I just thought the 30th anniversary of that special race Julie and I had would be a really great time to go back,” said McCartney, who committed to the race in February of last year. “I just wanted to do something really positive for myself,” she added.
McCartney immediately thought of calling Julie to see if she wanted to join her, but the ball didn’t get rolling until the two spoke at a November Triathlon Club of San Diego meeting. The weekend following the event, the two participated in a weekend triathlon relay (at Bob Babbitt’s prompting). This got them talking about the idea, and it wasn’t long before both had signed up to swim, bike, and run their way to the Ali’i Drive finish line on October 13th. (The last time either completed the race was back in 2003 when they raced together for its 25th anniversary.)
Even though her last Ironman is a distant memory, McCartney says that having done the race a total of eight times gives her confidence. “At any time in my life, whether I was in triathlon shape or not, I’ve always felt like if someone told me I had to go do an Ironman tomorrow, that I could do it,” she said. She says she’s felt this way since she did her first Ironman, and that this knowledge gives her a sense of strength and empowerment. Needless to say, McCartney has no doubts she’ll finish.
McCartney’s calm confidence is balanced nicely by Julie Moss’ bubbly energy. The spark that compelled Moss to try her young legs at the 1982 race in Kona—all in the name of a college Phys Ed course—is still burning strong. At Nytro Multisport in Encinitas last week, where Bill Rudell of Cannondale presented them each with brand new Cannondale Slices, the two women provided hours of entertainment while they tested “funny looking” saddles and asked questions about hydration and transition tactics.
Moss said she’s excited to race once again in Kona, but what she’s really looking forward to is the “Lance Factor.” “I want to see it,” she said. “I don’t want to read about it or follow it online. I want to catch a glimpse of it myself.”
As one of the original darlings of the sport who helped catapult triathlon into the public eye with her stark determination, Moss will likely share some of that limelight with Mr. Armstrong. It will be an exciting year in Kona indeed.