Alex Zanardi wrote the next chapter in his inspirational book Oct. 11 when he completed the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
A crash during an auto race in 2001 took the two-time CART champion’s legs, but he has not ceased competing. Zanardi, who turns 48 on Oct. 23, mastering prosthetic legs, participated in the New York City Marathon in 2007. He then began to excel at hand cycling, winning two gold and one silver medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. He also competes in touring cars for BMW.
The Ironman World Championship consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle and 26.2-mile run. Among the 2,187 competitors, Zanardi finished 272nd. He used a buoyant vest for the swim, the hand cycle for the cycling portion and a special wheelchair for the marathon distance.
Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Tony Kanaan and Vitor Meira competed in the event in 2011. Kanaan said Zanardi is his “hero.”
In a news release by BMW, Zanardi said he would “treasure this day in my heart for the rest of my life.”
“I am very proud of my performance. The last 300 meters were worth everything, they were worth being here for. I don’t know if everybody got cheered the same way, but when I passed down that narrow lane, I have never experienced anything like that. It was amazing.
“I was always close to crying. I am not an emotional guy for these types of things, but this was very special.”