Triathlon: The Souls of Two Machines

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, January 1993

Triathlon: The Souls of Two Machines

It's deja vu all over again at the Hawaii Ironman
By Ken McAlpine

Mark Allen and Paula Newby-Fraser measure about the same on the triathlon immortality meter: Between them they now own nine Hawaii Ironman titles and both course records. But in the 1992 Ironman, held October 10 on the big island, only one of them was acting like the most-feared athlete in the sport. That was Newby-Fraser, who won her fifth title in a breeze. Allen got his fourth win and another course record, but as he tells it he was literally running scared.

Not many people are able to keep pace with Allen after 2.4 miles of swimming and 112 of biking, but one man who seemed capable was Chile's Cristian Bustos, a 27-year-old who has a 2:16 marathon to his credit and had outlegged Allen during the running stage of a short-course triathlon held last January in Pucón, Chile. Apparently the memory haunted Allen. "Cristian's name came to mind the night before the race," he says, "which was odd, since I wasn't even sure he was in it." Twenty miles into the bike stage Allen looked at the leader board. "And there's Cristian Bustos," he says, "and his name was moving up real fast."

Bustos caught the leaders just past the bike turnaround. He hung tight for the rest of the ride and started the run with a 20-second lead over Allen. The pair presently ditched the field, and Allen shook Bustos at the 14-mile mark. Realizing that he was on pace with his 1989 course record, and with a $5,000 bonus on the line, Allen uncorked a wild finishing sprint down Alii Drive and shaved the record by seven seconds, finishing in 8:09:08. "Sprinting at the end of the Ironman," he laughed afterward. "Kind of a wild concept."

Any worries that Newby-Fraser might have had didn't last past the bike stage, in which she smoked Wendy Ingraham, who had led the way out of the water. Her head down as she whipped along the Queen Kaahumanu Highway, Newby-Fraser rode for her own record, the 1989 mark of 9:00:56. She broke that, and the nine-hour barrier, with a time of 8:55:28. That left her just one Ironman victory short of Dave Scott's record six. "It was like the gods of the island had pulled my number out of the lotto," she said later. "I don't expect to ever duplicate that time again, and it doesn't matter. I had the perfect race. I know what it's like."

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