Kona – Do Not Fail.
As October beckons and most are rubbing the dust off their old winter wonder bike, some lucky athletes are cleaning and re-lubing their racing steeds in preparation for Kailua-Kona and the Ironman World Championships.
As first timers, the experience is marred by the nightmarish possibility of getting those three horrible letters beside our name: D, N & F. In most cases this doesn’t happen but I distinctly remember cycling along the Queen "K" Highway back towards town on October 13th 2012 counting down the kilometres wondering at what point it didn’t matter if I had an irreparable bike mechanical as I knew I could run into town within the bike cut off.
Our Greatest Spectacle
Rolling along the tarmac and seeing the road sign: “Ali’i Drive” sends shivers amongst triathlete historians. Hawi, the Energy Lab, the lava fields, the pier and St Peter's Church are all iconic in their own right. Memories of Mark Allen And Dave Scott running step for step, or Macca and Andreas Raelert sharing a hand shake, or Chrissie Wellington’s grimace as she hunted her way to her final championship win. Images from the countless Ironman World Championship You Tube clips of athletes stumbling, falling, staggering and crawling their way to the finish line as if some bizarre innate disease from within will not let them quit. That is the fear of those three letters.
Forever immortalised in Ironman racing.
As the top echelons of the professional field are completing their final stages of preparation everyone is wondering who will pip the other to the post. This is the wonderful thing with Ironman racing. The professional season imitates an amateur’s race experience. In amateur racing, going too hard in the early stages of the bike can be the cause of a horrendous run time and missing an aid station may be the difference between a monumental bonk and an age-group podium; in the professional circuit, one race too many, or one Ironman too hard in the earlier part of the season, then even the hardiest of hardy pros may be way off their normal pace. Although the perception of the distance may be vastly different from a sub 9 to a sub 17 hour athlete the respect of the distance and the respect for the location is still there. Much like how many great golfers have choked at Augusta, top tennis players have fumbled at Wimbledon, so too can any athlete make some basic mistake on this unforgiving island. People talk about their desire to race at Kona, but this would all pale into insignificance if they didn’t get the finisher’s medal as well!
Undoubtedly our top professional and amateur athletes will be pleased to finish – with the selection process for both the professionals and the age-groupers being equally hard in their own right but who do we feel are in for a chance at the fast end of the race?
Who has your vote?
Philip and Alan's Predictions:
Philip:Sebastien Kienle, Alan:Pete Jacobs
Philip:Luke McKenzie, Alan:Jan Frodeno
Philip:Frederik Van Lierde, Alan:Ivan Rana
Philip:Rachel Joyce, Alan:Caroline Steffen
Philip:Miranda Carfrae, Alan:Daniella Ryf
Philip:Leanda Cave, Alan:Rachel Jocye
The Waiting is Worse than the Race
Just by sitting here writing these words, my mind casts back to that date two years ago when I was treading water waiting for the cannon to shake the pier and though I wouldn’t see it, I knew in a split second, the calm pacific ocean would turn into a violent mess of arms, legs and white water.
What is my plan? Well that would be telling... but I can assure you that I will give everything out on the course, I will not - at any point - quit, and I
cross that finish line.
In the mean time though, I am looking forward to returning the stunning surroundings of one of the toughest but strangely beautiful arenas of our sport but most of all, I’m looking forward to some warm weather and the infamous Kona Coffee coffee stops!
Kona, here I come