IRON WAR BY MATT FITZGERALD – A REVIEW

Well, seen as I have nothing really much to report until my ½ Marathon in Warrington on Sunday I thought I might post a review on a book about running (well to be strictly true it’s about triathlons) that I finished not so long back.

The book in question was IRON WAR by Matt Fitzgerald.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon.co.uk:

On October 14, 1989, driven by one of the most intense and lasting two-man rivalries in any sport, a pair of generational talents at the height of their powers ran a race that redefined human limits. The battle between Dave Scott and Mark Allen at the 13th Hawaii Ironman stands as one of the most dramatic stories in the history of athletics. The two greatest athletes of triathlon’s pioneering generation raced side by side, literally, for eight straight hours at breakneck speed before Allen finally tore away from his longtime nemesis with less than two miles left in the 140.6-mile event. His margin of victory was a scant 58 seconds. So intense was the drama, the race came to be known as ‘Iron War’ – the single most awe-inspiring sporting event ever witnessed. More than a compelling story, Iron War is a fascinating exploration of how Scott and Allen pushed themselves and each other – and what it takes for anyone to break through perceived limits. Much as Christopher McDougall added depth to Born to Run by tying in new research on the evolutionary origins of humans as runners, Iron War shows how new discoveries in neuroscience explain how some elite athletes are able to literally will their bodies to do things that should be beyond their capacities. The book weaves an examination of the anatomy of mental toughness into a gripping tale of athletic adventure. With its emotional and intellectual depth, Iron War is a captivating and thought-provoking portrait of the human will.

Personally I found the book a very, very enjoyable read. I love the way that Matt Fitzgerald weaves the story between sections of the race and the personal history of both athletes and what motivated them to become the triathletes that they were. I was absolutely captivated from Chapter one right through to the end, I devoured every page and lapped up every bit of motivational information and training advice that was scattered throughout the book.

For Dave Scott ‘The Man’  and Mark Allen ‘The Grip’ this race was the culmination of their intense rivalry up to this point. Dave had beaten Mark in every Hawaiian Ironman that the two had entered up to that point and Mark had a point to prove. To be successful in Hawaii he had to beat Dave and beat his demons about the race and the stories leading up to that day and Marks six unsuccessful attempts to win Hawaiian Ironman up to that point are truly captivating.

There is a chapter or two regarding training, scientifics, motivation and endurance which, although not really relevant to the story that the author is painting, is a great, interesting read which the author has done some in depth research into.

I cannot recommend this book enough it had me thoroughly gripped from start to end and while reading it during my long train journey to Manchester for the Great Manchester Run it certainly got me in the mood for my race the next day.

I still have the copy I’ve just read and would be more than willing to send it down to someone in the UK free of charge so that they too can experience a bloody good read.

Next up I’ll be ploughing through Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I’m heading down to Warrington on Saturday so I’m hoping to get it finished by the time I come back on Sunday night. Expect a review soon.

Experience the Dave Scott and Mark Allen story further:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOVGVMiwPSA – Dave and Mark talk about their experiences of each other.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbWsQMabczM – The video where Julie Moss (Mark’s ex wife) hits the wall in the 1982 Ironman. The original showing of which prompted Mark to compete in Ironman.

http://www.youtube.com/user/davescottinc?feature=results_main – Dave Scott training advice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DN6RulDbN6E – Mark Allen training advice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTe0BJRzUlo – Iron War Uncut interview with Mark and Dave.

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