Last weekend’s exciting sprint to the line that saw Lionel Sanders take a surprise runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside got us thinking about some of the sport’s most exciting finish line dramas. So we figured we’d look back at some of those nail-biting, dramatic race finishes that have left their mark on the sport:
2012 Olympic Games: Nicola Spirig and Lisa Norden
It took hours to figure out who had won this race, which was literally decided by less than a hair’s breadth as Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig managed to get to the line just ahead of Sweden’s Lisa Norden.
Lionel Sanders and Rudy von Berg, Ironman 70.3 Oceanside
Well, we couldn’t exactly say that this sprint finish inspired us to write this story, then not include it, right? You can read about Sanders’ take on the race here, while Von Berg recapped his day in this video.
Simon Whitfield 2000 Sydney Olympics / 2008 Beijing Olympics
We’re going to cheat a bit and give you two Simon Whitfield hits under one headline for this one. Simon Whitfield enthralled the nation with his amazing sprint to the line at the 2000 Olympic Games, winning gold after a dramatic sprint passed Germany’s Stefan Vukovic.
Eight years later Whitfield would thrill us all again as he ran his way from fourth to an oh-so-close silver medal performance in Beijing.
The Crawl Part 1: Julie Moss at the Ironman World Championship 1982
It is the finish that in many ways contributed to the popularity of the sport. In 1982 Julie Moss appeared to be on the way to taking the title, with a 20-minute lead off the bike. As she neared the finish line, she collapsed again and again, and would end up crawling to the finish line – just feet away from taking the win, Kathleen McCartney would run by to take the win.
The Crawl Part 2: Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham at the Ironman World Championship 1997
After over nine hours of racing Sian Welch was struggling to get to the finish line in Kona ahead of Wendy Ingraham, Both were completely spent and collapsed within feet of the line. In the end the two would resort to crawling across the line, with Ingraham getting fourth, Welch taking fifth.
Alistair Brownlee helps brother Jonny across the line at the World Triathlon Grand Final in Cozumel
Seemingly appearing to be on his way to taking the world win in Cozumel in 2016, Jonathan Brownlee collapsed just 500 m short of the finish line. Henri Schoeman would take the win as Alistair carried, then pushed his brother across the line to take second. It wasn’t enough to earn Jonathan the world title, but remains one of the most dramatic finishes in triathlon history.