This is the kind of story we tell each other over a beer. It’s a triathlon classic from the wooly early days of the sport, when the world was just waking up to the notion of triathlon, and even folks in the business were learning as they went. It was on-the-job training for everyone,...Read More
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Where Are They Now?
Pauli Kiuru, from Finland, one of the first and certainly among the very best ultra-distance triathletes from Europe, started competing in triathlons in the mid-1980s and emerged as a top professional in 1987 when he finished tenth at the Ironman in Hawaii. From that point on, Kiuru was a major factor in ultra-distance triathlons for more than decade, going head-to-head with the all-time greats of his era, including Mark Allen and Greg Welch. Known for his quiet, understated demeanor when he was not on the race course, Kiuru’s competitive fire produced seven international Ironman victories, including four wins in a row (1991-1994) in Australia and a charging, one-second, come-from-behind-victory over Ken Glah at the New Zealand Ironman – still the closest finish at any Ironman race, anywhere. Kiuru’s course record in Australia of 8:06:39, set in 1992, still stands firm, a rather astounding accomplishment, considering the talent that followed in his footsteps over the intervening 11 years. Not surprisingly, Kiuru was the first athlete elected to the Australia Hall of Fame in 1997.
Kiuru retired from the sport of triathlon in 1998, and moved seamlessly into the business world as an entrepreneur and motivational speaker. In 2011 he made an historic transition when he ran for, and was elected to, the Finnish Parliament as a member of the National Coalition Party in the electoral district of Pirkanmaa.
Our readers will no doubt correct us on this point if we are wrong, but as far as we know, Kiuru is the only man to have both won an Ironman race and served as an elected official in a national legislative body.
“To get ready to Ironman and campaigning has huge amount of similarities,” Kiuru wrote in an email to TH. “Time-bound goals are needed, goals need to be reasonable. It is good to understand what it means to give 100%. And there (are) so many details you can´t control at all, and that (you) must accept as well.
“My campaign lasted one year. After election day I felt like in Hawaii - nothing was left. I just gave all what I had. One difference exists. Last two weeks before Ironman we start to slow down, decrease volume etc. (But the) last two weeks of campaigning is the final sprint. You must smile, you don´t have time to sleep enough and pressure is constant. Volume is increasing to the very end.
If somebody can keep himself together (on) Highway 19 (the Queen K Highway in Kona), it easier to do in campaigning as well.”