We’ve had tremendous opportunity to celebrate and cheer on a lot of our IRONDames recently as it’s been a month chock full of races and challenges, both group and solo efforts. Naturally, things slow down a bit as we head into the autumn and winter but not before we hit one massive event: the ever-coveted, hard-as-nails IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. This year, the IRONDames’ own Hélène Desrosiers is among the elite group of racers that qualified and will swim, bike and run in Kona.
The inaugural “Hawaiian IRON MAN Triathlon” was conceptualized in 1977 as a way to challenge athletes who had seen success at a local biathlon. It combined the three toughest endurance races in Hawai’i – the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112 miles of the Around-O’ahu Bike Race and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon – into one event. On Feb. 18, 1978, 15 people came to Waikiki to take on the IRONMAN challenge. Prior to racing, each received three sheets of paper with a few rules and a course description. The last page read: “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!”
In 1981, the race moved from the tranquil shores of Waikiki to the barren lava fields of Kona on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Along the Kona Coast, black lava rock dominates the panorama, and athletes battle the “ho’omumuku” crosswinds of 45 mph, 95 degree temperatures and a scorching sun.
Now in its 34th year, the IRONMAN World Championship centers on the dedication and courage exhibited by participants who demonstrate the Ironman mantra that “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.” On October 13, 2012 nearly 1,800 athletes will embark on a 140.6-mile journey that presents the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit to earn the title of “IRONMAN.”
Qualifying is no easy feat as each year more than 100,000 triathletes try each year to qualify in the 37 Ironman Events across the globe for the coveted 2,150 Ironman World Championships Kona slots (1,600 + race qualifiers plus lottery winners).
Hélène entered her first half marathon in September, 2003 (Scotiabank Waterfront Half – Marathon finishing 3rd in her age group in 1:55:34.4) and she has since grown into a very seasoned runner. She first qualified for Boston in 2006 and in April 2013 will running the Boston Marathon for the 6th time! Hélène’s incredible running strength and indominable determination soon translated to age group podiums in the sport of triathlon. Her first triathlon was an Olympic distance at Guelph Lake in June, 2008 where she finished 2nd in her age group (2:42:20). In the same year she competed in her first half IRONMAN, the Muskoka 70.3 where she placed 9th in her age group (05:46:29). Since 2008, Hélène has completed 4 IRONMAN triathlons, raced IRONMAN Lake Placid three consecutive years (2009 – 2011), followed by IRONMAN Arizona in the fall of 2011 where she finished in a PB time of 10:48:08 and 3rd in her age group garnering her World Championship slot to Kona.
Hélène’s enthusiasm for the sport is ever present and completely contagious! You can’t help but want to go a little bit faster when you’re riding or running with her. She is an incredible role model and we are so proud to call her an IRONDame!