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Somehow, in their wisdom, or by a twist of fate, the friends who first envisioned the ironman came up with the perfect combination.

Its perfect because to complete the course requires a combination of ability, desire, self-confidence and courage. Yet at the same time it is within the grasp of so many people around the world who are willing to accept the challenge when they are seduced by the call of the Ironman. Or, "Ironstruck".

It just never ceases to amaze me when you hear stories of the obstacles people have overcome in order to take up the Ironman challenge.

The Ironman is not easy. There is no guarantee that you will finish. In a race of this complexity, there are just so many things that can go wrong. In any given Ironman race, somewhere around 5-7% of starters will not reach the finish. Sometimes more depending on raceday conditions.

Personally, I've experienced both ends of the spectrum. There are a few races I never finished and found myself in that 5-7%. Injuries and once even food poisoning meant my day finished early. I've also had races that I will remember forever and everything just seemed to go right.

You can be an age-grouper or a pro--regardless, the Ironman distance will test you. After all, if it were easy, reaching that elusive, far-off finish line would not be quite so rewarding and fulfilling.

Its just so remarkable how individuals will take up the Ironman challenge despite dealing with handicaps that seem to suggest the Ironman finish line is simply not attainable.

Yet, year after year the Ironman is the venue for amazing acts of courage. Amputees, visually impaired, and even people who have endured severe illness and been told they will never be physically active again have crossed the Ironman finish line.

The Ironman has been the catalyst for people to change the way they live on a daily basis. Many have overcome serious addictions, quit smoking, lost weight, and in many ways have a new lease on life. Reaching that finish line has a way of changing a person. By its very nature, it teaches us that obstacles in everyday life can be overcome with the right combination of courage and will.

Thats what makes the Ironman such a great event. Its so mentally and physically challenging and yet at the same time is within reach of such a wide spectrum of individuals who are willing to take up the challenge.

The Ironman just continues to grow year after year and there really is no end in sight. It must truly amaze the originators of this event who have watched it grow from such small beginnings into one of the worlds premier and most cherished endurance event.


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