2003 Ironman World Championship Photo Essay

Photos: Bakke-Svensson/WTC

Outside the Ironman Expo along Ali'i Drive is the countdown clock showing time remaining until race start.

One of the perennial supporters of the race is Wigwam Mills, purveyors of fine socks for the Ironman nobility.

On the Tuesday before the race, athletes from all participating nations, Ironman nobility and the many local volunteer groups parade through the town of Kailua-Kona. This image is taken outside the Hulihee Palace, originally built in 1838.

Volunteers make this race possible. Here is part of the swim-to-bike and bike-to-run transition area groups. This year the organizers had concatenated two transition areas into one and moved it to the parking lot behind the King Kam Hotel.

Custom in Kona dictates that the top finishers earn the numbers corresponding to the previous year’s finish. This shows the bikes of Tim DeBoom (1), Peter Reid (2) and Cameron Brown (3) in the transition area the evening before the race.

Rain or shine, the gun goes off at precisely 07:00 one Saturday in October close to the lowest tide (Dig Me Beach is crowded) and the full moon (Queen Kaahumanu is very dark, often pitch black, after sunset).

One nasty strip of asphalt cutting through Madam Pele’s land at the 80-mile marker.

Faris Al-Sultan from Germany grabbed the lead and pulled away from the field early on the bike in his third trip to Kona. He would eventually finish seventh overall with a time of 8:35:51.

Lori Bowden of Canada with a big smile while working her way up the field in the winds some five miles from Hawi.

Nina Kraft of Germany grabbing a bottle near Kawaihae.

Natascha Badmann of Switzerland on the lava fields.

Peter Reid of Canada “in the zone” right after the Scenic Point and before The Mounds on the return leg from Kawaihae.

Normann Stadler of Germany leading the bike at the gradual incline just outside the airport, some 8 miles from town.

FIFO: first in first out.

Peter Reid digging deep and in a commanding lead towards his third victory at the bottom of the hill where, in 1989, six-time winner Mark Allen finally quieted the demons and dropped six-time winner Dave Scott.

After what seemed an eternal tug-of-war, Lori Bowden drops the surging Nina Kraft for the lead in virtually the same spot that Heather Fuhr caught up with and dropped Wendy Ingraham in 1997 AND where Dave Scott caught Mark Allen in 1984.

The top three men in 2003 were Rutger Beke of Belgium (second), Peter Reid (first) and Cameron Brown of New Zealand (third). Rutger is the second Belgian to pull off a surprise of this magnitude (the first was Luc Van Lierde who won in 1996 in 8:04:08, still the course record).

Top three: Natascha Badmann (second), Nina Kraft (third) and Lori Bowden (first). This was Lori’s second win in Kona.

Surrounded by his troop of indomitable chiropractors just after midnight is nine-time Hawaii Ironman finisher Mike Leahy, D.C. (with a big smile right under the “E” in Timex in the back row).

After hours of darkness and lack of sensory input, this is, for many, the end of a life-long journey.