The morning haze made the red, white and blue of swimsuits pop as people made their way to the beach to prepare to celebrate Independence Day in the South Bay.
More than a thousand people participated in this year’s Hermosa Beach Ironman on Tuesday, July 4 — and many more filled the beach to cheer them on.
During the event, competitors ran a mile, paddled a mile and attempted to chug a six-pack of beer.
Competitors who participated in the past knew what they were getting themselves into. For others, like Kate Jones, it was their first year dipping into the tradition.
Jones, from Hermosa Beach, said as a first-timer, she was not expecting to go as fast as everyone else. But, she said, she definitely knew chugging beer, for her, wouldn’t be the hard part.
“I’m fine with that,” she said. “It’s just the paddling. I’m not ready for it to be so cold in the water.”
At the end of the National Anthem, competitors took off in a flash to run a mile down the beach. Then, fast as they could, they trudged back up the sand to their boards and down into the surf to paddle another mile.
Finally, dripping salt water, each competitor then circled up at the start to complete the final leg of the competition — cracking open a six-pack and attempting to down all half-dozen brews.
Not a surprise to many, Annie Seawright came in first place in the women’s division, making her a 17-time Ironman winner. Seawright was surrounded by co-competitors and onlookers who egged her on and then cheered her victory.
In the men’s division, Tony Kostelak took home the bragging rights. Kostelak has been competing since 2003, he said, and has come in second place many times. It was his first time winning, he said.
According to organizer Shelby Benz, the Ironman took in about $46,000 that will be donated to local charities.
Benz, who was thrilled to have the 50th Ironman on the books, said the organizing team poured their hearts and souls into making it an event to remember.
“Under the veneer of debauchery is an event about heart and about community,” Benz said. “What can be better than that?”
As the Hermosa Beach Ironman concluded its 50th running, people stayed at the beach rocking out to music from Jim Lindberg and his iconic punk band Pennywise, running into a mosh pit — and of course — getting a jump on celebrating freedom and Independence Day.