2002 Ironman World Championship Photo Essay

Photos: Bakke-Svensson/WTC

On Wednesday and Thursday before the race, the athletes pack and deposit their race bags in the King Kamehameha hotel, one each for the bike and the run.

Part of the prerace process, the Carboload Dinner on Thursday is a must for rookie and returning Ironman triathletes. This picture shows last year's age group winners on stage, wearing the yellow 2001 Age Group Winner shirt.

Pier volunteer with that special Hawaii greeting.

Race day morning started with light sprinkles and dark clouds. The athletes found themselves once again inside the King Kam hotel for the compulsory prerace body marking. Once the gun went off, the race would turn more normal, though the lack of sun and heaving waves made the swim rather dreary and difficult.

Age group athlete Jan Sibbersen of Germany repeated his first place out of the water from last year. More remarkable, he was only 41 seconds slower, with a time of 48:10. As a result of his effort, he gapped a group with Tim and Tony DeBoom, Christoph Mauch, and Camerons Brown and Widoff by some four minutes.

Nina Kraft of Germany is working hard a couple of hours into the bike. A few miles north of The Mounds, not far from The Scenic Point, the rain stopped and the sun came out. As a result, the rain-cooled athletes suddenly were battling high humidity and what felt like intense heat. Nina would have a great race, get off the bike some seven minutes down on Natascha Badmann and stay strong on the run to improve one click from last year's third place finish.

Natascha Badmann came out of the water some five minutes down to the lead swimmer and resolutely rode to the front. This picture shows her on the steep climb off the lava fields a few miles before the Kawaihae left hand turn.

After the long downhill from the Hawi turnaround, the 1997 winner Thomas Hellriegel leads fellow German Jürgen Zäck and Chris McCormack, Australia's Hawaii Ironman rookie, who would be first out on the run, but soon DNF. Norman Stadler, also from Germany, is approaching. Thomas and Jürgen maintained a German lead all the way back into town. Once in the transition area, Jürgen, with a penalty, could only watch from the sin bin as Chris and Thomas took off. Three minutes later he would be allowed to change into running gear; later in the run he pulled himself out of the race.

Jan Birger Olsen from Denmark receives much needed sustenance from an aid station volunteer not far from Kawaihae.

Thomas Hellriegel in the lead near the right hand turn up Palani Road. Once out on Queen Kaahumanu and the lava fields, he was caught by Tim DeBoom, Peter Reid and Cameron Brown to finish in fourth place.

"Swiss Miss" Natascha kept running and smiling while shaka greeting the bystanders. She seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the day as she raced towards her fourth win in Kona.

Tim DeBoom worked himself out of the eight minute deficit he and his chase group sustained on the bike. He would eventually catch Thomas out on the lava fields, before dipping into The Natural Energy Labs. He kept his lead all the way back to the crowds on Alii Drive for his second consecutive victory in Kona and the $100,000 first prize.

Natascha, doing what she does best: racing, smiling and... winning.

Via a 3:11 marathon, Sweden's Clas Björling wins the 18-24 age group in his first attempt in Kona.

As the shadows get longer, eventual third place finisher Lori Bowden of Canada negotiates an aid station and up the field.

Lesley Cens-McDowell tiptoes out of The Natural Energy Labs as the sun is setting. She once again won her age group, this time the 55-59 bracket by an astounding 43 minutes.

No matter when you cross the finish line, you can look forward to well deserved, high touch attention from the many excellent volunteers in the massage area right near the finish.

The top ten men at the Sunday evening's Awards Dinner: Tim DeBoom, Peter Reid, Cameron Brown, Thomas Hellriegel, Alex Taubert, Francois Chabaud, Markus Forster, Mika Luoto, Cameron Widoff and Olaf Sabatschus.

Similarly, the top ten women at Sunday's Awards Dinner: Natascha Badmann, Nina Kraft, Lori Bowden, Heather Fuhr, Fernanda Keller, Lisa Bentley, Kate Allen, Karin Thürig, Sibylle Matter and Joanna Lawn.