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Agony & Ecstasy --Julie & Kathleen Revisited

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I had the opportunity to talk with Julie Moss the other day (Feb 6, 2017 to be exact). I was working on another piece for TriHistory. “Sorry I missed your call, Mike,” Julie said. “I was doing my anniversary ride with Kathleen.”
            That would be Kathleen McCartney, Julie’s partner in triathlon legendry. And while it took me just a minute, the significance of the date finally struck: Feb 6. The Anniversary. Of course.
            It was on Feb 6, 1982 that Julie almost won the Ironman. The only Ironman at the time.  Kona. Just Kona.  No money, no pros. Field still well under a thousand and ABC still paying a rights fee. No Bud Light, no Gatorade. Scott Tinley beats Dave Scott for the win and his first world championship.  That’s the part you probably don’t remember.
            What you do remember, especially if you’re a triathlete of a certain age, is a waif-like Julie Moss, running in first place, struggling initially with a droopy bra strap, then with wobbly legs, and finally with poopy… well, OK.  Like I said, that’s the part you remember.
            Oh, and Kathleen McCartney, running past the confusion of Julie on the ground just yards from the line, surrounded by television cameras and half the population of the Big Island, crossing first and being told, like she’s a game show contestant for heaven’s sake, that she’d just won the Ironman.
            It seems that Julie and Kathleen had been quietly celebrating that fateful day together, along with the occasional close friend, since 2012, by completing what they called an “Ironman-in-Minutes” -- 2.4-minute swim, 112-minute bike ride, and a 26.2-minute run.
            What a great idea. I thought we should join them in the celebration by republishing an interview I did with both women in the wake of the event. The article appeared in the April, 1982 issue of The San Diego Running News. We had a broad regional circulation back then (in that we printed a lot of papers), but who knows how many folks read the piece? Probably not many. Without the Internet or social media you had only the one newsprint tabloid shot to make an impression. Fat chance.
            So let’s try again, almost 35 years later. You can see and read the interview in its original form by clicking on the pdf link below. There’s some pretty good stuff there. Enjoy.
-- Mike Plant, Feb 7, 2017