Hermosa Beach Ironman!
The Party Starts Here On The 4th of July
A Hermosa Beach 4th of July tradition is the Ironman competition on the beach.
In some circles, an Ironman competition is an athletic endeavor developed to determine the best overall athlete in three disciplines.
The most famous of them all, held each year in Kona, Hawaii, consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon run of 26.2 miles.
But there's another Ironman that, while involving three activities (two of them athletic with the third being a true social element) is unique among them all. It's the annual Hermosa Beach Ironman, held the 4th of July in this coastal Los Angeles town. This Ironman involves running a mile, paddleboarding a mile and then drinking a 6-pack.
Yes, it's a party.
In a true reflection of the society in which it is located, the Hermosa Beach Ironman kicks off a wild 4th of July that involves house parties with bands, "drink and draw" beach volleyball tournaments and a scene on the beachside walkway, the Strand, that is one of the celebrations our forefathers would definitely salute.
Shotgunning Bud Lights is a quick way to chug a 6-pack.
After the competition ends, the real party begins at the Ironman.
The judges have to know how to drink beer so they can judge the competitors.
The Ironman winner carries the American flag through the mosh pit.
The Hermosa Beach Ironman occupies the sand at 28th Street in Hermosa Beach, and it goes from about 9 a.m.-1 p.m. About a thousand people are in place by 11 to watch the competitors run onto the beach and pound their 6-pack. In 2012, the Fourth of July is on a Wedensday.
Two years ago with rumors of the police wanting to slow down the party by breaking up the Ironman early and having a huge presence, it was pretty much party as usual. The police had four officers on horseback – an unusual sight in Hermosa Beach, to be sure – but they just observed the action.
When people start circling in the mosh pit, then the Ironman reaches its peak.
Uncle Sam drinks a beer at the Hermosa Beach Ironman.
The guy is smiling because he's never done any such exercise in his life!
A competitor gets a congratulatory hug. But wait, he's still got more beer!
That's because the was nothing for them to do; while the event is definitely wild, it's in control and confined to a small section of the sand. The difference in the past two years and other years is that the competitors had their beer-drinking area taped off and instead of waiting an hour or so to start the celebration, it happened at about 10:30. By 11:15, the police politely moved in, and people moved on – onto other parties (or in the case of many, champagne brunch at Cafe Boogaloo).
And the Hermosa Beach City Council and any others worried about this event being out of control should know that as people left, they gathered up their empties and put them in plastic trash bags. It's proof these are just local people having a great time to start celebrating the country's birthday in a unique, South Bay beach event.
They laugh, they party and they enjoy watching the competitors run up on the sand, somewhat lost and confused looking for their judge, who is holding up a clipboard. Yes, there are judges! Some people have gotten clever and plant flags to mark their spot, giving the event a bit of a flavor of Jazzfest in New Orleans. There's music, beer and a great party vibe.
This guy takes a break from chugging (he knows he's not going to win anyway).
Is this like Babe Ruth pointing to the crowd?
The crowd scene for the Hermosa Beach Ironman.
There's a band on the beach, too.
The female Ironman winner gets a lift from the crowd.
The "athletes" cannot do anything until they pound that 6-pack of beer. Frequently, stomachs explode so it's best to stand clear.
The highlight is when everyone is finished and "God Bless America" blares over the loudspeakers. This inspires competitors to form a circle and run around in circles in a mosh pit. It looks angry – especially later when the punk band plays (which in the past has included Hermosa Beach's own Pennywise) – but ladies don't be intimated.
It's a lucky 7 for these Ironman competitors.
If THESE people can do the Ironman...
This is the beach, after all, and it's just guys testing their testosterone. Later, when at the many house parties along the Strand, they are distinguishable only by the numbers on their arms and Budweiser-inspired funky slogans on their bare chests.
Despite the fact it's gone on for some 35 years, it's an unofficial event and PubClub.com is unaware of who organizes it and how it happens. Our best guess is that tradition prevails, everyone knows when and where it's happening and so it does happen. And that's good enough for us.
The Hermosa Beach Ironman is monitored by the police, who calmly break up the festivities by 12:30 or so, and there are absolutely no problems with people that one might think could occur if they just wandered upon the scene.
In reality, it's just another good, fun, clean event in this fun beach town.