Casey Chiapetta and Jenny Lane with Ironman trophys created by Daniel Inez of M1SK. Photo by Ray Vidal
In the early 1990s, owners of the Ironman trade name attempted to serve a cease and desist letter to organizers of the Hermosa Beach 4th of July Ironman. They failed because they couldn’t find the organizers.
Repeat women’s division champion Annie Seawright. Photo by Ray Vidal
The Hermosa Beach city council periodically tried to stop the event until Robert “Burgie” Benz, a member of a shadow organization associated with the event, was elected with broad support to the city council in 1991.
Pennywise’s Jim Lindberg..
Hermosa police patrol the Ironman, but from a distance. As successive police chiefs have explained to the occasional resident who complains, the Hermosa Beach Ironman is a tea party compared to the madhouse that is the rest of Hermosa on the Fourth of July.
Shanie Rusth (right) urging on a competitor. Photo by Ray Vidal
This year’s 40th Anniversary Fourth of July Hermosa Beach Ironman, on the sand in north Hermosa. attracted over 500 competitors. At 8:30 a.m., Benz’ daughter Shelbzy and the reggae-punk band Special C led competitors and fans in singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Men’s division winner Nick Macko. Photo by Ray Vidal
The race began at 8:37 a.m. with a one-mile run in the hard sand, along the water’s edge, followed by a one mile surfboard paddle.
Now for the hard part. Photo by Ray Vidal
Then, in a corral on the beach, judges wielding stop watches and clipboards timed the competitors as they chugged six packs of beer. Coors Light was popular. Guinness was not. Dribbling was prohibited. After downing the six pack, competitors were required to keep it down for 15 minutes. Competitors who puked were are disqualified.
Three minutes is considered a good split for the chugging stage. But the title doesn’t always go to the fastest. Ironman veterans Dane and Kelly Zaune and Dayton Silva, all professional surfers, were early finishers in the run and paddle stages. But both Zauns puked before finishing their six packs. Silva finished his six-pack but was unable to keep it down for the required 15 minutes.
Steve Vargas and Burgie Benz reprise their roles in the feature film Tales of the South Bay. PHoto by Ray Vidal
While the judges tabulated the results, a mosh pit formed around the discarded beer. Special C was joined by Pennywise, who performed their signature “Bro Hymn.”
Nick Macko, a first time competitor, won the men’s division, despite a relatively slow six pack split of 4:37. By contrast, Silva finished his six-pack in under three minutes and Benz, though well past his prime, finished his six pack in 3:37.
Job protection. Photo by Ray Vidal
Macko, a competitive swimmer and paddler who moved to Hermosa from Philadelphia one year ago, said he hit the wall after his fourth beer. “I felt really dehydrated. The last two beers were tough to get down,” he said.
But Macko built an all but insurmountable lead during the run and paddle stages. He finished in 13:38, crushing last year’s winning time of 19:32 by Waterman’s owner Jeff Bellandi. Belandi finished second this year. Chris Brown, also a previous winner, was third.
Pennywise’s Fletcher Dragge leads the Bro Hymn. Photo by Ray Vidal
Annie Seawright, a competitive runner, was the first woman finisher. She has competed in the Ironman annually for two decades and won the women’s division 12 times. Stephanie Norbert, another previous Ironman winner, was second.
Annie Seawright nailing the run. Photo by Ray Vidal
The Ironman raised over $10,000 for charity, including the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation. JMMF provides ocean therapy to wounded military veterans.
Burgie Benz, looking forward to the final leg of the Hermosa Ironman. Photo by Ray Vidal
Following the singing of ‘America the Beautiful,” by Shelby Benz, backed again by Special C and Pennywise, beer cans were collected and residents and police braced for the craziness to come.