The 2003 Ironman Triathlon World
Championship marked the 25th anniversary of the Ironman, now
practically a household name (at least among fitness enthusiasts).
The DVD program, originally made for television broadcast using NBC's
footage of the race along with interviews with participants, offers
viewers a nice retrospective and overview of the race, making the
program a hybrid of documentary and race coverage.
The Ironman: it combines a 2.4 mile
swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a full marathon into one grueling
day. One thing that's clear in the 25th Anniversary Retrospective
is that the Hawaii Ironman, with its brutal course through the
island's lava fields, is really two races in one: the race to be
first, by the professional triathletes, and claim the title of
Ironman World Champion, and the race to finish the course within the
time limit, to claim the title of "Ironman." The program
follows participants from both categories, showing both their
progress through the race and segments on their personal stories. The
background information is interesting, putting a human face and
personality behind the racers, and giving context to the battles
among the pros for the top places. (I did notice a couple of rather
obvious product-placement segments stuck into the program, trying to
masquerade as information about the competitors' training regimens,
but fortunately most of the background material is straightforward.)
For this program, there's also an
interesting look back at the development of the Ironman, from small
beginnings to its current world-class status. As a result, this
program is much more open to new viewers who are unfamiliar with
triathlons or the Ironman in general, and provides a useful
background for those who are interested in watching other triathlons.
The one weak point in the 2003
edition is that the races themselves are not all that interesting.
There's really no give-and-take or real drama in either the men's or
the women's pro races, at least not in the fairly limited amount of
actual race footage that we see. It's nicely done as a celebration of
the 25th anniversary of the Ironman, but as a race DVD it's a bit
lacking, though still quite enjoyable to watch.
The 2003 Ironman program is
presented in a non-anamorphic widescreen format, at 1.85:1. The image
is handled reasonably well, considering that a lot of the material is
from on-the-spot television footage; it's clean and bright, and
pleasing to the eye.
The basic Dolby soundtrack handles
the demands of the race well. The voiceover narrator and all the
interviewees, as well as the race action, sounds clear and clean.
And you thought "bare-bones"
meant "not even a trailer." Here it means that there's not
even a menu; the program starts up when you put the DVD in the
player, and kicks you out when it's over.
While the race portion of the
program is not that exciting, the 2003 Ironman 25th Anniversary
Retrospective and Race offers a well-made and interesting
overview of this famous race. It's a good place for newcomers to the
sport to start, as it provides a nice sense of context and introduces
the big names of the sport. Recommended.