Over the next couple of weeks we'll bring you the year's biggest winners and losers from the worlds of swimming, cycling, running, and triathlon.
It's been a busy and exciting year for everyone involved in endurance sports so we'll get right to today's list of winners and losers from the world of triathlon.
James P. Gills This year he sold the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) for an estimated 50 to 80 million dollars to a private equity fund.
It's been reported that he bought the Ironman race and brand in 1990 for pennies on the dollar.
If you have raced (or wanted to race) an Ironman branded triathlon, he's the guy that made your dream a reality. Here are a few interesting and published facts about the man behind the iron that you probably know nothing about:
- He’s performed more cataract and lens implant surgeries than any other eye surgeon in the world.
- He prints 40,000 books a month and sends them to 2,000 jails and prisons.
- He applied for three medical patents this year and published his 27th book.
- He's the most popular author on death row.
- He has endowed four medical chairs.
- He has helped build 2,500 churches.
- In 2004, he bequeathed $2 million to the Duke Eye Center for a research endowment; in appreciation, Duke named a portion of the Albert Eye Research Institute the Heather and James Gills Research Floor.
- He has competed in 46 marathons, 30 triathlons, five Ironman events, six Double Irons and fourteen 100-mile races.
- In 1974, he became the first eye surgeon in the U.S. to dedicate his practice in Tarpon Springs, Florida, to cataract treatment using intraocular lenses.
- He has helped fund 350 churches.
- He bikes to work everyday since he can no longer run because of a bike accident that left one of his legs three inches shorter.
And this year he's one of the sports biggest winners!
Once again Chris McCormack came to the big Island as the presumptive favorite of this year's Ironman world championship. He talked a tough game, even sitting down for 20 minutes just before the race to commentate on the up coming battle with the reporters covering the race for the Ironman web cast.
About halfway into the bike portion of the race things went very wrong for McCormack.
NBC in their Kona coverage of the race reported this week that he suffered a broken brake cable.
McCormack on his blog writes, " but the basic fact is that I snapped the front derailleur cable just before the turn around at Havi on the bike. Unfortunately for me the Tech guys that came to my aid, did not have the gear cable to replace it and after trying to adjust the front derailleur with the lining screws to keep me in the big chain ring, they stripped the front bolt and I was unable to continue."
We've gotten emails from sources who were on the course who contradict the previous two version of the mechanical facts.
But whatever really happened, the outcome was a DNF and a long scooter ride back to Kona for last year's winner of the race, and this year's presumptive favorite.
In 2004 and 2006 he showed the world that you can win on the bike by winning the race.
In 2007 he showed the world what happens when a two time world Ironman Champion punctures twice and can't get help changing his tire or wheel. On the now infamous NBC video of the race Stadler threw a hissy fit (and his bike around like a used tissue) when he couldn't repair the tire.
In the end he plopped down on the hot lava and let the emotions flow like Gatorade at the finish line.
This year was his best chance to go for a third victory. He hit the run looking strong and fit and quickly took control of the race. That is until he cramped up and had to walk, only to run again, only to walk again, only to come in 12th.
But once again Stadler let the emotions flow, this time on the run, when his legs just wouldn't run no matter how he tried.
But instead, "The problem was that when I tried to use the cartridges I didn’t put enough pressure on them to flow the gas into the tube.” Instead, according to Wellington, the quick-inflation gas fizzed away into the atmosphere.
Wellington spent several long minutes standing by the side of the road begging for another cartridge. At the press conference after the race she commented:
“I have to say a huge thanks to Rebekah,” Wellington said of Rebekah Keat, who stopped to hand her a CO2 cartridge. “To me what she did epitomizes everything that is good about the sport.”
Wellington went on to crush the bike and run portion of the race setting a new record for the marathon. She easily won the race with plenty of time to celebrate in the end. That's why she and Rebekah Keat are both 2008 winners
Last year Rutger Beke blew up early the run. But unlike some professionals who decide to cut their loses he continued on and walk/ran the rest of the race. When many pros opt to just give their body a break, Beke completed the race in 898 place.
According to Ironman.com:
The female age-grouper jogged up to a walking Rutger Beke during the marathon at the Ford Ironman World Championship and tried to encourage him.
"Run with me," the woman cried.
"Sorry," Beke replied, "but you're too fast for me."
Beke kept on walking. From mile 10, to the Queen K, into the Energy Lab and back, he kept hoofing it. Age-groupers unfamiliar with a professional being in their midst applauded his I-will-not-quit attitude. Come late Saturday afternoon, Beke, a top five finisher at Kona the previous four years, finally walked down Alii Drive, finishing in 11 hours, 13 minutes, 58 seconds. His marathon split: 5:32. His overall finish: 898th.
“Next year,” joked Beke the night after the race at a party, “no one will improve as many places as me.”
He was right. This year he finished on the podium in third place with a time of 8:21:23. Even though he probably doesn't think so, he was a winner last year for completing the race and this years for standing on the podium.
Next Time we continue with the Top Ten Endurance Sports Winners and Losers from the world of cycling.