Friday, September 6, 2013

Iron War book review

Iron War was published in 2011, but I just got the paperback. What's the hurry I though, this epic race was back in 1989. The title is so bold it's almost comical. After all triathlon was a much smaller sport then than now. This is a story about two talented but totally different endurance athletes running a 2:40-marathon together in scorching heat after a fast 3900m swim and 180km bike.

In those days Dave Scott was the Man. I studied his triathlon training book and video and tried to train like him. It was very tough. Everybody believed that nobody could beat the Man in Kona. Everyone except Mark Allen.

To be honest I didn't expect too much from this book. The author Matt Fitzgerald lacks a bit street cred, as he has never raced in Kona. He has finished another Ironman race, but not in under 10 hours. However he claims to be a huge Kona Ironman fan, having seen the event on TV!

Fortunately the book project was supervised by Bob Babbitt, a pioneer of the sport and 6-time Ironman Hawaii finisher. He was right there when Iron War happened. He has fought the mumuku winds on the lava fields of Kona coast. Actually he coined the phrase 'Iron War' in the first place.

There are tons of precious triathlon trivia I haven't read anywhere before. Maybe there is a reason for that, but I found it all very entertaining at the end of the day. This book certainly seems well researched - all the references are listed at the end.

The starring triathletes sued the publisher for defaming them. This is perhaps understandable considering how intimately personal the narrative gets. It's almost like an unauthorized biography of Dave Scott and Mark Allen. The facts may have been exaggerated slightly, but I don't think the book strays too far from the truth.

Iron War deserves to become a bestseller. It's Born To Run for triathletes. It can be recommended for everyone, not just hardcore ironman triathletes. I had a good time reading it and found it inspirational.



Will said...

TP...I read this on audio tape while running. its a great book, if you are into the whole sport and the history. I didn't realize they sued the publisher. Wow, people take themselves so seriously!

Trail Plodder said...

It never ceases to ashtonish me how Americans are able to turn any opportunity into a war! Apparently the author had asked Dave Scott and Mark Allen to cooperate with the book project, but unfortunately they wanted more money than the publisher was willing to pay. But yes it's a great, inspiring book nevertheless. They don't make triathletes like that anymore.