Durdam recently competed in the 2006 XTERRA World Championships in Maui. This little race that I did (my first "real" (non-sprint) triathlon) back in 1998 is all grown up. The nice thing is that the race directors and organization still treat everyone as family and everyone there appears to have a good old time.
This is quite refreshing given that the owners of the Ironman brand, not content with their marquee event in Kona, have become entirely predatory as they attempt to build up an exhaustive race docket. Ironman as a lifestyle is really the domain of an entirely select subset of people with 30 or more hours a week to spend on endurance fitness. To compete at an Ironman distance you are essentially training as a professional which makes the distance prone to high burnout. The WTC seems to sense this as they are now moving into the half-ironman distance which they have clunkily named: 70.3.
Back to Maui whete the XTERRA folks have found that for those who enjoy having their asses kicked, they can do it in considerably less time, say 3-4 hours. The Maui course is comprised of a 1500m swim (2 750m laps) with a mass start of over 500 people (see video). In a bold "no whiners" stance, race directors encouraged speedy age group swimmers to go ahead and swim over any pros!
The race gets serious on the bike which is brutally exposed in a race that has a deliberately late start (9AM) just so you respect the Hawaiian heat. The run is on par as well. The only drawback to this event is the parading (not so much preening) of a heavy european contingent in an array of skimpy spandex for the days leading up to the race. But hey, these folks are tough. One 65 year-old broke his wrist on the first portion of the bike and managed what must have been an excruciating 8 mile descent and then toughed out the run.
Durdam hung tough given his complete lack of triathlon experience and landed himself in the upper 2/3 of the race.