KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII, OCT. 11 -- Desi K. Alston, 34, a violinist with Washington's National Symphony Orchestra, survived his nemesis, the 2.4-mile ocean swim. Nina Slowinski-Wendling, 24, a housewife from Gaithersburg, fought through head winds and searing lava fields along the 112-mile bicycle route. And Jay Pecce, 39, an engineer from Rockville, put crossing the finish line ahead of his bloodied feet that turned his 26.2-mile run into a more than six-hour sojourn.
Combine the tribulations and that's three finishers in Saturday's annual battle of the ultra-fit, known as the Bud Light Iron Man Triathlon World Championship. Nearly 1,300 competitors from 45 countries took part in the three-stage event.
California's Dave Scott again proved he could go the distance faster than anyone, winning an unprecedented sixth Iron Man in 8 hours 34 minutes 13 seconds. Scott, 33, of Davis, Calif., the so-called "Babe Ruth" of triathlon, won $18,150.
Erin Baker, 26, of New Zealand won the women's race in a course record 9:35:25 to earn $21,300.
Long after the $100,000 purse was distributed, Alston of Alexandria was plodding through the black lava fields. "Sometimes I'd run a melody through my head just to keep from falling asleep on my feet," said Alston, who finished in 13:47.12. "Fourteen hours is a long time out there."
Slowinski-Wendling said she grew tired of the monotony of more than six hours of cycling. "You just fry out there," she said after finishing in 11:50.37 overall.
For Pecce, who trained with Slowinski-Wendling, the feeling was a pained one at the finish. "I'm afraid to take off my sneaker," he said. "I think my foot is all blood."
"It's a vicious race," Pecce said. "At times I thought how wonderful it would be to stop. I thought, 'My God, I never want to do this again.' But I didn't stop and I think I'll do it again."