The longest standing record in Kona!
The longest standing record in Kona
Vassili (far right) back on the Big Island. Photo courtesy of Andreas Goros.
Rewind back exactly 20 years – 1994. Vassilis Krommidas was eying up his second Ironman World Championships. His first Ironman World Championship 2 years previous to this in 1992 saw Vassilis come 40th overall in a time of 9.10.11.
In 1994 a 24 year old Vassilis took 17th place overall and set the 18-24 Male Age Group course record in a time of 8 hours, 55 minutes and 2 seconds*. People have got within 30 seconds of this time subsequently in favourable conditions and on bikes which when he was racing would have seemed like motorbikes. Currently in all other age groups, the next longest standing record is the 70–74 female (15:19:19!!) set back in 2000.
Although the focus at this time of year is at the professional field, it is important to remember than many of the 18-24 category winners and podium places move on to become up and coming future professionals.
Without the technological advances in aerodynamics, nutrition, road surfaces and mechanics, his achievement was a true feat of athletic prowess.
Vassilis himself is one of those kind thoughtful individuals, a two times Olympian and now one of Greece’s top coaches, he still takes the time to work with all his athletes. Ignoring the gentle rivalry he kindly showed me as an 18-24 year old Greek on the Big Island in 2012 when he was over supporting one of his athletes race. The romantic gesture of a Greek passing the record on to a Greek in the first time he had set foot on the island since his successful assault on Kona 18 years before was not lost on anyone, least of all me. The best I could do was a 14th place and a huge slice of humble pie. 9:58. He had beaten me by over 1 hour…
Vassilis (far left) and a nervous Philip (far right) after a group dinner a few nights before the race in 2012. Photo courtesy of Andreas Goros (left)
We are currently looking at a record that within the next 4 years will be older than the individuals competing for it. For all you youngsters (I can say that now!) bear in mind you are following some amazing footsteps but remember, these are particularly fast footsteps (and still are...).
To everyone racing this weekend, best of luck!
*He would have been faster if he had worn socks and not slowed down due to bleeding feet!!!