Harriet Anderson earned the right to be Ironman Hawaii’s final finisher despite breaking her collarbone six weeks before the race.
Just one minute before midnight, Iron- man announcer Mike Reilly’s voice bellowed over the loudspeaker, “She’s gonna do it! You got it, Harriet!” as 77-year-old Harriet Anderson came down the finish chute. Just 41 seconds before the cutoff, she crossed the line to the sound of “You are an Ironman” as the last finisher of the 2012 Ironman World Championship, officially drawing the event to a close.
We caught up with Anderson mo- ments after the race as she walked to the medical tent with a volunteer sup- porting each arm. While she was short on words after her 17-hour effort, we filled in some context.
How did you make it to Ironman Hawaii?
“I won my age group last year.” She’s not just a finisher; Anderson is a competitor.
Which race? “Here.” She’s also a Kona vet- eran. This year was her 21st Ironman Hawaii.
What’s it like racing on the Queen K Highway at night? “Really hard, but this year was especially hard. I broke my clavicle six weeks ago and I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to race.
If you asked me if I was going to race … so just to finish …” After finishing in 16:56:01 the year before, the shoulder in- jury weeks before the race put the 17-hour cutoff within range, but she made it by the slimmest margin.
Why do you race Ironman? “It’s the most exciting race there is. The challenge, and it’s a gorgeous area. And I love Hawaii.” Tough courses are her specialty. She has finished the notoriously challenging Wild- flower Long Course Triathlon 23 times.