2008 Ford Ironman World Championship Photo Essay

Photos: Bakke-Svensson/Ironman

Shooters: Eric Lars Bakke, Ben Hays & Tony Svensson

First person out of the water is Benjamin Sanson of France with a clocked time of 48:40. Race day would be good to the athletes, some wind, some sun, but nothing extra-ordinary.

The transition between the swim and the bike can be hairy. Belinda Granger of Australia navigates this without a hitch.

Torbjørn Sindballe of Denmark about an hour into the ride accompanied by one of the helicopters.

You're a visitor in Madam Pele's lava...

...and without these dudes, you're toast.

Craig Alexander of Australia wins his first Ironman title in 8:17:45.

Chrissie Wellington of the United Kingdom in the latter part of the run on her way to a second consecutive Ironman win. Her time would be 9:06:23, a new personal best in Kona.

Kate Major of Australia hanging out at the King Kamehameha hotel after the race.

According to tradition, the winners show up near midnight at the finish line to bring in the last finishers.

In this my 26th consecutive visit to the Kona race, the awards presented something new. Rain, and lots of it. The audience had by now been reduced to the indefatigable--many of those nutheads who got involved in this sport in the first place. This panoramic view has the top ten women, flanked by Chrissie to the right and Dede Griesbauer of Stanford University swimming fame to the left. It's hard to tell who is having more fun. It was glorious!

Here is fellow photographer Eric Lars Bakke, in a borrowed Aloha shirt, looking with apprehension at $10,000 worth of camera gear and wondering if the much advertised Canon environmental seals will hold. When not in Kona, he shoots the relatively sedate sport of football for the Denver Broncos. In the bottom right hand corner is a roaring Dave Orlowski, a finisher in 2008 and one of the twelve original ironmen from the February 1978 race on Oahu, where he was third. He would not miss this epic Ironman experience for anything.

Chrissie Wellington and Craig "Crowie" Alexander filling their bowls with water. The umbrella brings the quote, "I'm desperately trying to understand why kamikaze pilots wore helmets" to mind. To the right--no umbrella--is Ben Fertic, president of the Ironman organization and a Kona finisher. (Thank you Canon for the environmental seals.)