The Triathletes: A Season in the Life of Four Women in the Toughest Sport of All

Overview

Female triathletes first entered the national consciousness when television viewers saw Julie Moss's dramatic finish of the 1982 Ironman, the sport's premiere event. Shaking and exhausted, Moss literally crawled across the finish line, shouting away all assistance. The Triathletes is author Jeff Cook's search for what drives some of the sport's top competitors: Paula Newby-Fraser, the enigmatic South African who, despite her disdain for arduous training, is a constant champion and darling of corporate sponsors; ...
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Overview

Female triathletes first entered the national consciousness when television viewers saw Julie Moss's dramatic finish of the 1982 Ironman, the sport's premiere event. Shaking and exhausted, Moss literally crawled across the finish line, shouting away all assistance. The Triathletes is author Jeff Cook's search for what drives some of the sport's top competitors: Paula Newby-Fraser, the enigmatic South African who, despite her disdain for arduous training, is a constant champion and darling of corporate sponsors; Jan Ripple, a mother of three in her mid-thirties, struggling to meet the conflicting demands of her family and her chosen sport; Kirsten Hanssen, a petite born-again Christian who "races for the Lord" and nearly destroys her body in the process; and Julie Wilson, a shy, quiet woman from Idaho with a knack for placing just out of the money. For Julie, each race becomes a matter of economic survival. What emerges from these individual profiles is a larger portrait of what it means to be a woman in the world of sports. Facing discrimination and stereotyping, forced to come to grips with issues of femininity, body image, family, and the economic demands of athletic competition away from sports' center stage, the triathlon is an uphill race for female competitors. Remarkably, a few are able to make it to the top. This is their story.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The most common triathlon format calls for a 1500-meter swim, a 40-kilometer bike leg and a 1 0-kilometer run. Because women as a rule have greater endurance than men, the best female triathletes are better than all but the top men. The author of this uneven book, himself a triathlete, follows four women through the 1989 season, ending with the Hawaiian Ironman, which demands almost superhuman abilities with its 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike leg and 26.2-mile run. Cook provides delightful anecdotes about the contestants: self-righteous, aggressively Christian Kirsten Hanssen; earthy Paula Newby-Fraser; Jan Ripple, half southern belle, half wrecking ball; and quietly determined Julie Wilson. His long passages on physiology and the construction of bicycles, however, will not interest general readers. Still, he paints a well-rounded portrait of the triathletes, who, he reports, now number 1.2 million worldwide, dispelling the popular image of them as a splinter group of not-quite-rational masochists. Photos. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Cook covers the lives of four women competing in the 1989 triathlon season, a sporting event that features 140 miles of swimming, cycling, and running. The season culminates in the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon, one of the most grueling events in sports. It features back-to-back competitions that include a 2.4-mile swim, a bike race of approximately 112 miles, and a 26.2-mile run. Cook chooses to write about four very different female competitors in the sport: Kirsten Hanssen, Jan Ripple, Paula Newby-Fraser, and Julie Wilson. He relates their personal stories as well as their athletic accomplishments. The reader obtains real insight into the various personalities and training methods that different competitors use. These stories also illuminate how little support and encouragement women receive, even at the top competitive level of athletics. The book is informative and fascinating and contains some stories of sheer human drama.-- Melinda Stivers Leach, Precision Editorial Svces., Wondervu, Col.
Wes Lukowsky
A seven-foot pro basketball player may be a freak of nature, but he's making the best of the gifts (and limits) imposed on him through genetics. Triathletes are also freaks of nature, but they are self-made aberrations. They refuse to accept the limits nature has placed on their hearts, lungs, and legs, and, via sheer force of will, burst past those seemingly implacable constraints. The author, a triathlete himself, focuses on the struggles of four women competitors during the 1989 triathlon season. He finds the subjects fascinating not just because of their athletic abilities but also because of their array of other personal attributes. Each must be extraordinarily disciplined, possess the knowledge of a professional physiologist, have the business acumen to survive in a financially risky endeavor, and somehow maintain a personal life. As the four women progress toward the season's ultimate race, Hawaii's Ironman, Cook looks in depth at each one, both as an athlete and as a person. Excellent sports journalism on a perpetually intriguing topic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312081843
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/8/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 256

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