Iron War, by Matt Fitzgerald
Sunday 12 February 2012
Who are Dave Scott, Mark Allen and Chrissie Wellington? Let's take the first two for starters, as indeed the Americans were as they lined up for the 1989 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
Scott had won the gruelling triathlon – a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride, topped off with a full 26.2-mile marathon – six times in a row. Allen, four years his junior, had come second twice.
For the next eight hours they could hardly be separated, until with less than two miles to go Allen broke free to win by 58 seconds in a then-record 8hr 9min 14sec, the third man trailing home over 22 minutes later. Scott never won again, while Allen went on to equal his six victories.
Matt Fitzgerald knows both athletes well, and explores their backstory in detail as he builds up to the drama of that epic duel in the sun. But the narrative pace of the book is diminished by lengthy digressions into the science of distance running.
While interesting, these explorations of the latest psychological and physiological research would have been better packaged as separate chapters. Nevertheless, his account of how and why these two men were driven to push themselves through pain unimaginable to most of us remains absorbing.
As for Wellington, she was once trained by Scott, who must have done a good job because she has won the women's Ironman World Championship four times in the past five years (she missed 2010 because of illness), and holds the world record. What's more, she's British, having been born and brought up in Norfolk, though you could stop a lot of people in the street before finding someone who has heard of her.
Let's hope her autobiography, A Life Without Limits (Constable, £18.99), published later this month, brings her more recognition. She deserves it.
Published in paperback by Quercus, £12.99
Review: Of Mice and Men
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Arts & Ents blogs
The Hobbit: There and Back Again set for possible title change
The best movies on Netflix: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
Mrs Doubtfire 2: Robin Williams set to star in sequel to 1993 comedy
Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you've embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father
- 2 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 3 Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark