The Ironman Triathlon Today
The Ironman format remains unchanged, and the Hawaiian Ironman is still regarded as the most honored and prestigious triathlon event to win worldwide. For the 25th anniversary on October 18, 2003, nearly 1500 athletes were enlisted, most of which had to go through qualification competitions (although some were admitted through the lottery).
Although thousands of athletes worldwide compete at an Ironman event each year, the vast majority aim simply to just finish the course if they are first timers, or set a PR (personal record) time if they've raced this distance before. Only very talented athletes realistically compete for a spot in Hawaii, and just finishing an Ironman race is often the highlight of many triathletes' career. Athletes with disabilities now compete in the event in the physically challenged category, and are required to meet the same cutoff times as able bodied competitors. Australian John MacLean was the first physically challenged athlete to complete the event.