2013-10-04 / Front Page

Columbia boasts of its own Ironmen

Compiled by Mimi M. Maddock

Robert Felix with his son, Nick, after a competition in Louisville, Kentucky Robert Felix with his son, Nick, after a competition in Louisville, Kentucky Two native Columbians will compete in the 35th Ironman World Championship October 12, 2013, in Kona, Hawaii: Nick Felix, age 45, and Bill Linder, age 79.

According to Robert Felix, Nick’s father, Nick grew up in Columbia, attended St. Joseph Catholic School, Dreher High School, The Citadel, and USC Law School. He was a major in the U. S. Marines, and is now an attorney in Hilton Head Head Island for the McNair Law Firm where he practices litigation and alternative dispute resolution. He is marrid to Lindy Byars of Greenwood; his mother is Judy Felix, retired from teaching at St. Joseph’s Catholic School and Cardinal Newman. This is not Nick’s first Ironman competition.

Records show Bill Linder has participated in over 64 races since 1996 including triathlons and Ironman competitions since 1999.

The inaugural “Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon” was conceptualized in 1977 as a way to challenge athletes who had seen success at endurance swimming, running, and biathlon events. Honolulu based Navy couple Judy and John Collins proposed combining the three toughest endurance races in Hawai’i—the 2.4- mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112 miles of the Around-O’ahu Bike Race, and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon—into one event.

On February 18, 1978, 15 people came to Waikiki to take on the Ironman challenge. Prior to racing, each received three sheets of paper with a few rules and a course description. The last page read: “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!”

In 1981, the race moved from the tranquil shores of Waikiki to the barren lava fields of Kona on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Along the Kona Coast, black lava rock dominates the panorama, and athletes battle the “ ho’omumuku” crosswinds of 45 mph, 95 degree temperatures, and a scorching sun.

Now in its 35th year, the Ironman World Championship centers on the dedication and courage exhibited by participants who demonstrate the Ironman mantra that “Anything is possible.®” On October 12, over 2,000 athletes will embark on a 140.6-mile journey that presents the ultimate test of body, mind, and spirit to earn the title of Ironman.

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