2006 Ford Ironman World Championship Photo Essay

Photos: Bakke-Svensson/WTC

The Ironman Expo at the south end of town is the place to see and be seen Wednesday through Friday before the race.

"Let's get this right, first I swim 2.4 miles in the ocean, then I ride 112 miles and then I'm supposed to run a marathon?"

At 06:45 the professionals are let go under dark clouds, turbid water and only the faintest hope of a sunrise.

Francisco Pontano from Spain is first out of the water in 53:27, his slow time a testament to the very rough swim.

Chris "Macca" McCormack from Australia before riding out of the clouds and into the sun on Queen Kaahumanu.

Norman "The Norminator" Stadler from Germany refueling near the 88-mile road marker on his way back to Kailua town and a new bike record of 4:18:23.

Michellie Jones of Australia in the lead on the lava fields about 3 1/2 hours into the ride.

On the lava fields on the way back, riders were greeted by a good half hour of rain, making this ride relatively easy.

At mile seven, Norman was 9:50 ahead of Macca, but losing time as the Australian was running substantially faster.

Down at the Natural Energy Laboratories of Hawaii (pronounced "NELLHA"), Norman has reached the turnaround and heads back to town. Macca has cut the lead to about five minutes. At the finish, he would still be 1:11 behind the winner.

Running in third place after the turn, last year's winner Faris Al-Sultan of Germany is trying to pull a trick out of his bag.

A picture says more than poorly chosen words.

Twentynine-year-old Ironman rookie Desiree Ficker from Austin, Texas digging deep as she comes back into town to finish second six minutes behind the winner.

Michellie cannot believe that she has just won the Ironman in 9:18:31, improving on last year's rookie second place. Her splits were, swim: 54:29, bike: 5:06:09, run: 3:13:08.

Desiree crosses the finish line 5 1/2 minutes after the winner — a rookie performance that shook the Ironman world.

As the evening progressed, the finish line was drenched in a downpour that lasted for about an hour.

Three days after the race, Dig Me Beach, where the Ironman swim starts, has returned to normal.