The 500th Anniversary Microsoft Ironman, October 19, 2477

2/2006

Event Summary

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Well, it was hot, windy and humid.

And what a sight it was as the participants lined up in Kailua-Apple Bay for one of the greatest sights in the world of sports: over 85,000 athletes in a single mass swim start, representing 89 of 90 states (Fairfax-Chernobyl having no remaining population, of course), all 9 countries of the United Nations, 158 U.S. protectorates and three planets.

Owing to the lack of any significant ocean swells, the mortality rate was mercifully low this year, with a whopping 99.2% of the field managing to survive to the turnaround point abeam the Fairwind LXXIII and fully 89.7% making it all the way to the Apple Postal Service Launch Ramp adjacent to the pier. Aside from the usual blunt head traumas and drownings, there were four cases of barrier failure in the mandatory full-body wetsuits, allowing toxins from the once-living ocean to seep in and dissolve the swimmers. Furthermore, long waiting times at the TSA's metal detecting stations rendered the entrances to the thirty-six changing tents somewhat more lethal than usual, with Buddhist Male-to-Female Transsexuals topping the carnage charts for a fifth straight year.

The newly-reconfigured, 230-acre Google Oil Company swim-to-run transition area was the scene of amiable and excited chaos as racers frantically GPS-located their bikes. Volunteers from the aircraft carrier USS President Shamiqua Goldberg moored off the new island of Lo'ihi efficiently repaired blown tires with laser annealing tools before racers even knew there was a problem. Ensign Mustafa "Maverick" Lombardi marveled at how little basic bike geometry has changed since the old days of triathlon. "Hard to believe," he said, "that a bike weighing only a pound and a half could look just like a model from the original Ironman." Well, it cost over three hundred grand, Ensign, so there's a bit of a difference!

First out of the tents was perennial swim winner Lars Jorgensen 23rd, earning himself the Microsoft Leather Goods premium for breaking his own record of 26 minutes, 18 seconds. This time the rest of the elite field refused to get sucked into his game, knowing that the Norwegian had likely blown himself up winning the swim and would be toast once he hit the Disney Coast.

On his way up Pay 'n' Save Hill (and, for the hundredth time, we have no idea why it's called that; rumors of an ancient temple of that name having once occupied the site are just an old Internet hoax), Jorgensen made good use of his specially-built, chrono-synclastically infidibulized Huffy Snazzycycle, barely pausing for the traditional bow toward the last square foot of actual lava left on the Big Island lovingly preserved under glass in the front window of Bianelli's, before hitting the first of the 94 golf courses make up the legendary Ironman bike course.

Not conversant in Spanish, Jorgensen at first couldn't make out what the raucous crowd was trying to tell him, and wasted precious seconds checking his pants. (Not unreasonable, given the unfortunate incident that ruined a previous race for a top contender following the introduction of high-bidder Dairy Queen's Mongoose Milkshakes as the new Official Ironman Energy Drink. Hey, we've said it again and again: Don't drink anything on race day you haven't been drinking in training.) Pretty soon, though, the message sank in: Jorgensen's old rival, Rock Bamm Whamm, was already pedaling his way up the sixth fairway of the Trump Golf and Polo Club, oblivious to the angry local golfers who had to move aside to let him pass. Less than two minutes later some 300 more hopefuls had cleared the sand traps and were bearing down on the fabled Kamanawannadoya water holes. Jorgensen gamely kicked it into high gear, but he ended up tripping alarms on the WTC's remote lactic acid detectors and was pulled from the course for his own safety. Commented race director Twinkie Falafel: "I need another lawsuit like a I need another whatever."

Spectators in Hawi were hanging out of every window of the massive skyscrapers lining Steve Jobs Boulevard as the first group of cyclists appeared. They were led by Natalie Fraser-Fuhr-Huddle-Badmann, whose great-grandmother was the female who ended forever the sport's domination by men. Wearing a flashy number from her new line of women's athletic and office wear, Natalie led a tight peloton consisting entirely of off-duty cops hired to Taser any photographers taking the Empress of Ironman's photo without having paid a license fee. Having successfully dodged legal action stemming from a mass poisoning of carbo-party attendees who'd eaten contaminated pierogies she once endorsed, Natalie dropped that sponsor and is now supported by her new corporate sugar daddies, Consolidated Lug Nuts ("If my bike used lug nuts, they'd be Consolidated Lug Nuts, by golly!"). Boy, you can see their 800-watt logo shining on her helmet a mile away.

Natalie hit the Queen K on the return trip just as the last bodies were being pulled from Apple Bay and methodically stretched her lead mile by mile until it seemed only an alien abduction could keep her from the victory stand. That abduction showed up in the form of Miranda Cosmota, a third-generation Martian Pilates instructor who broke the species barrier some years prior when she became the first entrant in the new and experimental ET category following several years of lobbying by the ACLU. Miranda failed in her first attempt, but a rules modification that allowed her to stock aid stations with a private supply of guava-flavored sulfuric acid and use every one of her limbs enabled her to finish under the wire the following year. If she ends up on the podium again tonight, Director Falafel promises to figure out how to prevent Miranda's Mother Ship from accidentally scooping up another wing of the King Kam Hotel along with Miranda at the conclusion of the ceremony. ("It did let us squeeze another 2,000 competitors into T-1, though," Falafel huffed defensively at last year's somewhat heated press conference.)

Just before the Energy Lab, Natalie waved supportively to Novojard Tensing, the Nepalese Sherpa trying to become the oldest person to complete the grueling 140.6 mile course. "After climbing Everest without oxygen over thirty times," the spry 107-year old told us earlier, "you'd think this would be a piece of cake." Not so fast, Novo: There's no Starbucks at the 26,000' level of this event!

Pausing at the metal detectors and neutron sniffers at T-2, Natalie turned briefly and got a shock as a race official ran up and drew a yellow 'X' through her race number. "No way was I drafting!" she insisted to the official, but had she in fact failed to give way as another's racer front wheel came within 200 yards of her rear wheel? No; it turns out Natalie had used nail polish not licensed by the Ironman organization. An old veteran at these sorts of things, Natalie didn't waste energy grousing about it, but used her time in the Sin Bin to sign a few autographs, ably assisted by race officials with satellite-linked credit card machines.

Once out on the run, Natalie found herself with some competition. German star Otto Govaster had reached way down and found something (hope it wasn't a hit of Durabol again, Otto! Just kidding…) and was now going stride for stride with the female leader as they rounded the Hot Corner, so named for the lava flow that destroyed this part of Pixar-Kona eight years ago following the wholly unexpected eruption of long-thought-to-be-dormant Hualalai Mountain. Tipping their hats at the monument to the 28 athletes who'd lost their lives that day because they thought they were hallucinating and refused to go around, Natalie and Otto made quite a pair as they headed out toward St. Dell's Basilica, the world's largest cathedral and the official house of worship of the Ironman. (The original, 6-pew St. Peter's that once graced the site is carefully preserved as an authentic miniature reproduction in the Basilica's gift shop, and also available on-line.) Military spy satellites temporarily reassigned to provide aerial footage of the race beamed pictures of the two to billions of telesets around the world, and viewers were able to see every drop of sweat on their faces as each struggled to shake the other.

But Otto proved no match for the genetic miracle that was Natalie Fraser-Fuhr-Huddle-Badmann. The not-so-Grand Teuton dropped farther and farther back, and could only watch helplessly as his distaff rival faded into the distance, her trademark pink Nike plutonium running shoes eventually disappearing altogether. Govaster would be passed by no fewer than three dozen other racers before posting a dismal overall time of 6:52:07, the victim of his own hubris and, did we mention, far too much pre-race partying in the Welchie Memorial Pub high atop the Mauna Lani Towers.

Natalie, of course, won it once again, and was immediately rushed into the medical tent and hooked up to an IV. Natalie was fine, but three pints of blood had to be drawn, the minimum necessary to ensure that an accurate screen could be taken for the 38,000 substances currently on the Intergalactic Anti-Doping Agency's (slogan: "IADA smack you for using drugs") banned list. (The list is now species-specific, it having come to light only recently that water to a Venusian is like adrenaline to an Earthling.) At the award banquet along the airport's north-south runway the following evening, Natalie modestly shrugged off her achievement, attributing all of her success to Red Bull, flagship product of the company she bought following her victory here in 2473. As usual, Natalie donated her first prize of $134 million to a local charity; this year it was the Charles Schwab Home for Retired PGA Tour Professionals.

In closing remarks, Director Falafel predicted that next year's event was going to be "hot, windy and humid."

A splendid time was had by all