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PROFILE / Iron Woman / Famous for dragging her worn-out body across the Ironman finish line in 1982, Julie Moss gives it another go 22 years later

January 25, 2004|By Steve Chapple
(Page 3 of 5)

"I think Julie got as much out of that race as I did, or more," McCartney told the New York Times. "She's more famous because of it. I'm just the answer to a trivia question."

"Kathleen won the race," says Moss, "and I got all the credit. But I wonder if Kathleen would want to trade roles. I still think I'd like to have my name on that trophy."

Moss has come to Kona for two reasons, she says. One is to beat the woman who beat her, since McCartney is back in the race. In fact, Ironman 2003 is sort of a "Battle of the Moms," in Moss' view, because McCartney (now McCartney Hearst) has three children and lives in La Jolla, only miles from where Moss grew up, in Oceanside.

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Moss is also back to beat her own record. "It is a personal statement for me to post the same time at 45 that I did at 23: 11:11! Women have come so far. "

Then she laughs, I think the only time she even smiled, with anything other than those focused eyes, the entire time: "Hey, some of those chicks are fast! I'm hoping these girls slow down a bit! I believe I'll be right up there with the ladies in my age group."

It was time for me to leave.

I am no stranger to extreme sports, having posted pretty high in the Garberville "5Beer/5Bar/5Kilometre Run" of the early 1980s (I think it was the '80s), and I've gone TV hunting in Montana many a time, with pistols, and caught tiger fish along the Zambezi River, in Africa, too, on the fly, but even I was not prepared for the swim start at the Ironman, which occurred, conveniently just yards below my winter office across from Uncle Billy's Kona Bay Hotel.

The 2003 swim began with some 1,600 contestants crouched and treading in the brine like a lake of pollywogs about to be born. Then the horn sounded, and the frogs leapt out, churning foamy wakes from Kailua Pier to the Royal Kona Resort. There were three helicopters, hovering scarily low, and two dozen hysterical camera boats in close pursuit. Moss had said she liked being on the outside of the school of athletes. Though she had to cover more water, she didn't get so beat upon by flailing arms and legs.

But when Moss made it back to the pier, she looked as fresh as if she had just stepped out of the bath.

"Julie!" shouted a fan.

Standing at the edge of the corrugated cement boat ramp, I was close enough to see Moss blush and hurry down the path for her bike.

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