It wasn't¬†theending she'd envisioned for her first Ironman triathlon. Julie Moss was leadingthe '82 event in Hawaii, less than 500 yards from the finish, when she felt herlegs buckle and her body give out. She collapsed, then got up, only to fallagain and again. Desperate to complete the race, Moss crawled the last 15 feet,reaching out with her left hand to touch the line, 31 seconds after anothercompetitor had crossed it. "I just wanted to get across the finish andstart the next phase of my life," says Moss, 48.
Two weeks laterthe Ironman aired on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Within hours the network wasflooded with calls from viewers wondering if Moss had survived the gruelingordeal. In response ABC flew her to its New York studio for an interview withJim McKay. Then came numerous television appearances and even a TV movie basedloosely on her experience. Says Moss, "I fell into beingfamous--literally."
Moss was a23-year-old student when she took up triathlon as research for a thesis inexercise physiology. But after stardom struck, she pursued a pro career in thenascent sport. In 1982 she met elite triathlete Mark Allen; the two married in'89 and had a son, Mats. Moss still runs the occasional triathlon and works asa race announcer, and though she and Allen divorced in 2002, they live neareach other in Santa Cruz, Calif., and share parenting duties. And her fameendures: Moss's performance of 25 years ago, which helped lift triathlon intothe mainstream, has been preserved on YouTube and seen by tens of thousands."What I did that day wasn't pretty to see," she says. "What shinedthrough was the humanness of my struggle. That determination is insideeverybody."
Moss (with son Mats, top) collapsed, then crawled the final 15 feet.