McCormack would return to Ironman Australia to capture his starlight victory at the event and establish a record that will never be matched again. His fifth win at the race was on the new course at Port Macquarie, one that was changed after that year because of complaints that the two-lap run was too hilly and difficult.
He said, “It feels different to win here in Port Macquarie, but winning five titles is a dream come true. I have to say that this course is absolutely breathtaking. The hilly run and up and down out along the beach is really tough. I loved it. I hear a lot of talk about the course being too hard. Keep it this way. This infatuation with fast times on easy courses has to stop. Ironman is about the challenge. If they change the course, I will not come back.” It would be the last time McCormack raced at Ironman Australia.
Macca then returned to Roth to race again and pursue a threepeat victory, something only German legend Lothar Leder was ever able to achieve. With the Germans stacking the field again and Roth putting on the first $100,000 winning prize purse, McCormack again overcame the best of Europe in the world’s biggest triathlon. The Spanish Olympian and racing legend Eneko Llanos provided some early race pressure on Macca; these two athletes would have a rivalry in Europe that would continue for years to come.
With the birth of his second daughter Sienna due four weeks prior to the Ironman World Championships, McCormack opted to prepare in Australia. Flying with new family across for the World Championships, McCormack would have one of the sport’s greatest battles in Kona, missing the world title by 71 seconds in a war with German two-time world champion Norman Stadler.
Macca split the podium with the Germans who had now won the last three world titles — two athletes who he had conquered season after season in Europe but seemed to have his measure in Hawaii.
In one of the sport’s greatest-ever races on one of the windiest and most humid days ever in Kona, the tension would spill into a war off the field in a showdown at the awards presentation.
McCormack, the runner-up, made public his intentions: that he had been beaten by a better athlete on the course that day, but it would be the last time either of these athletes would ever beat him again. He vowed to win in 2007, or retire from the sport.
The 2006 Iron War Of Words became a catalyst, driving media attention globally and setting up one of the greatest seasons between the juggernauts of the sport.
“Great things happen to people who make great things happen.”