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Monday, August 18, 2003



[ IRONMAN ]


Lourens wins
Ironman Revisited

He breaks his record
by two minutes and beats
the second-place finisher
by two hours


Ironman Revisited was a victory revisited for defending champion Deon Lourens and a memory revisited for Ironman Hall of Famer Dave Scott.

Yesterday, Lourens broke his own course record by two minutes, finishing the original Ironman course in 9 hours and 43 minutes. Lourens was nearly two hours ahead of second-place finisher Doug Smith (11:38) but was two minutes behind the only relay team in the race.

The team of Scott, 14-year-old double-amputee Rudy Garcia-Tolson and "One-Arm Willie" Stewart came in at 9:41. The event began and finished at San Souci Beach, a combination of the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the 112-mile Oahu Perimeter Bike Ride and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon.

Many questioned the sanity of the original Ironman competitors in 1978. Yesterday, Lourens questioned his ability to repeat with a comparable time.

"There's always pressure if you win an inaugural race to come back and do as well," said the owner of a fitness center in Encinitas, Calif. "I wasn't going to do it this year. Then Bob (race organizer Babbit) sent me a tape of last year's race. I broke into tears and thought, 'My gosh, I have to go back.'

"I was racing against Dave (Scott) and he had a really good team. I held my own in the swim and the bike but not in the run. One-Arm Willie is an amazing athlete."

Lourens came out of the swim first, finishing the first leg in 50:30. The only other athletes to break an hour were Scott and Garcia-Tolson, who swam together (56:25) and Ted Taylor (58:00).

Scott caught Lourens a few miles into the bike portion and Stewart maintained the two-minute lead through the marathon. Garcia-Tolson only did the swim portion and Stewart the run.

Scott initially had planned to just do the swim "and then Bob (Babbit) says, 'Why not bring your bike?,' " said Scott, a six-time Ironman winner. "It's a tough circle around Oahu and I'm not in the same shape I was when I was doing this professionally. It was hard.

"I did the swim and the bike and then I jumped in the car as we followed Willie. Around 13 miles, I was just going to conduct him through the traffic. Then it was, 'What the heck, might as well do the other 13.' It's a beautiful course, but it has gotten busy in the last 20 years."

Scott said he'll be back next year in some capacity, but probably not to compete. Lourens is undecided about going for a three-peat.

Stewart will be back in October for the 25th anniversary Ironman in Kailua-Kona. And hopes to be better rested than he was for yesterday's race; Stewart arrived in Honolulu late Saturday night.

"This was my first time in Hawaii," said Stewart, who turned in a 3:12 marathon. "I'm happy as heck I did it and I can't wait to get to bed.

"Kona is the big one. This might be a wake-up call for me, make me a little tougher when I come back in October."

Garcia-Tolson returns home to California to start his sophomore year in high school and concentrate on making the U.S. swim team for the 2004 Paralympic Games. The teen had both legs amputated above the knee when he was 5.

"It was a great experience for me, breaking an hour in the swim and being on a great team with Dave, a great cyclist, and Willie, a great runner," said Garcia-Tolson, whose visit included surfing with the pros Saturday and bodyboarding yesterday afternoon off San Souci. "I had a great time. I only did the swim, pretty much looked at the bottom and at all the fish."

The event is a fund-raiser for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. There were 24 individuals and one team entered in yesterday's event, with the last finisher expected to complete the course overnight.

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