Bob Babbitt started racing triathlons way back when the earth was still cooling, in the late 1970’s. He did his first Ironman Triathlon in 1980 on the island of Oahu and ended up completing five more when the event moved to the Big Island. Despite being incredibly slow at swimming, cycling, and running, he has somehow found his way into both the Ironman Hall of Fame and the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame. He also co-founded Competitor Magazine and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, plus he created Competitor Radio and the Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series. Bob now hosts Babbittville Radio and Breakfast with Bob. Go to babbittville.com for more info.
JULIE MOSS, who finished in second place in February 1982, after her dramatic crawl to the finish line, mesmerizing all who witnessed it. Julie’s collapse and unwavering quest to make it across the finish line remains one of the most unforgettable moments in the history of the Ironman. “It took me a long time to own my image in that race. I represent something to people. All these years later, I’m not about being an amazing athlete. It’s about having the personal qualities to not give up when things get really hard.”



“Hey, are you in the race?” yelled a voice from the darkness opposite the 1980 Ironman finish line on the island of Oahu.

“Yes,” I replied.

“You’re done.”

There were no bands…no cheerleaders…no Mike Reilly telling me that I am an Ironman. Nope. As one of the 108 finishers of the third-ever Ironman, and the last one on Oahu, all I had at the finish was my support crew and an idiot in the park doing one arm push-ups.

I knew I’d be back.


“You need to respect the conditions here. You have to know that they are stronger than you are. When you believe you can beat the wind…you lose.” — Two-time Ironman World Champion LUC VAN LIERDE. PHOTO BY ROBERT OLIVER
“During my first 10K through town, I was high fiving my friends in the crowd. I was going to be the Ironman champion. At the bottom of Pay and Save Hill, I was still the Ironman champion. When I reached the top and started into the lava fields, I was completely out of gas. It’s hard to win the Ironman when you are walking the marathon.” — Six-time Ironman World Champion MARK ALLEN, who led the 1984 Ironman by 12 minutes off the bike. He would end up fifth while his nemesis, Dave Scott, won for the fourth time. PHOTO BY TRACY FRANKEL/30 YRS OF THE IM WORLD CHAMPS
“Most people lose their concentration after about five hours. They give up. It’s not physical, it’s mental. When you come to Kona, it’s like racing on the moon.” — Six-time Ironman World Champion DAVE SCOTT. PHOTO BY TRACY FRANKEL/30 YRS OF THE IM WORLD CHAMPS
“How deep can I dig? Those were definitely my proudest racing hours. I was the last pro out of the water and came off the bike in sixth. I had to fight tooth and nail and I had never had to do that before. The fight is what I love, the fight is what I crave and the fight is what I got. Internally and externally I crossed that finish line physically and emotionally annihilated. I knew then that I was complete as an athlete.”CHRISSIE WELLINGTON on her 4th — and final — Ironman World Championship in 2011. PHOTO BY PAUL PHILLIPS
“Coming down Ali’i Drive is special. But coming down Ali’i Drive first is magical and something I’ll have with me until the day I die.” — Three-time Ironman World Champion PETER REID. PHOTO BY ROBERT OLIVER
“It wasn’t important for me to win today, and I think that’s why I did.”PAULA NEWBY-FRASER (left) on her eighth — and final — Ironman World Championship win in 1996 where she out-dueled Kona rookie Natascha Badmann (right) of Switzerland. The year before Newby-Fraser built up a huge lead over Karen Smyers before suffering the ultimate collapse a quarter mile from winning her eighth title. In 1996 she vowed not to go off the front, but to mix it up with the others. On race day she did just that. PHOTO BY LOIS SCHWARTZ
DAVID BAILEY, a motocross star, was paralyzed training for a race. The two of them eventually were drawn to the Ironman in the handcycle division and Moleda won their first two meetings in Kona, in 1998 and 1999. PHOTO BY RICH CRUSE


Navy SEAL CARLOS MOLEDA was paralyzed when he was shot in the back during a mission.  PHOTO BY RICH CRUSE

David Bailey and Carlos Moleda: When the two of them raced, the disability seemed to disappear and on race day it was simply two great athletes looking to win the most important event in their sport.

In 2000, in the third of their three battles, Bailey trained harder than ever before and at the Ironman World Championship, he eventually caught Moleda in his racing chair during the marathon at about mile 21.

After finally beating Carlos Moleda, David Bailey stayed at the finish to greet him.

As Moleda crossed the line, the two touched gloves and embraced. I could see Bailey whispering something to Moleda. As we headed back toward the massage area I asked Moleda what he said:

“He said ‘Thank you’,” remembered Moleda.

“Thank you? Thank you for what?” I asked.

“I asked him the same question,” said Moleda. He said ‘Thank you for pushing me to a level I never would have reached on my own.’”