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

Jeff S. Cook, Author
Jeff S. Cook, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (234p) ISBN 978-0-312-08184-3
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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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.)
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