With the birth of eldest daughter Tahlia in January 2004, race planning was a big part of the season.
Opting out of an Olympic Games pursuit in Athens to focus on Ironman racing, Macca’s early season focus was around winning his third consecutive Ironman Australia title. With the organisers looking for a replay of the great duel in Roth the year prior with Lothar Leder, the German was brought in to rattle the Australian on his home course, along with Luke Bell, Chris Legh and five athletes from the previous year’s top 10 in Kona. In what was called “The Showdown” McCormack took complete control of the race early on the bike, and showed his improved run power with a 2:48 marathon and crossing the finish line more than 10 minutes ahead of the field.
McCormack had made clear he wanted to capture the Quelle Challenge Roth title in 2004 and become the only non-European athlete to ever win the title. He had also hinted that he would like to chase a sub-8 hour time on the old established course. With the organisers adding a huge bonus for anyone who could break 8 hours on the course and an additional World Record bonus which saw the old course officially ratified (the course would be changed in 2009 and it would lose its official ratification status), McCormack dropped a 2:39:14 marathon to capture his first title at the event.
He would also break 8 hours for the first time in his career, becoming the first non-European to achieve the mark.