HAWAII IRONMAN TRIATHLON
Will you be part of the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon? Are you going to Kona?
The Hawaii Ironman triathlon. If there is any way possible, this is a race you just have to be part of at some point in your Ironman career.
It’s been a long time since I had the good fortune to be part of the Hawaii Ironman triathlon, but I don’t think it’s changed all that much.
I’m sure the swim course is much the same as it was back in the early 80’s.
It was a truly unforgettable swim for me in 1984 with water so warm that wetsuits were unnecessary and there were tropical fish to marvel at for pretty well the length of the entire course.
The water was amazingly clear and we were able to see the scuba divers sitting on the ocean floor waving at us.
Another great memory I have was making the turn at Captain Bean’s boat with the bright orange sails—and glancing up and seeing how crowded it was with spectators who were cheering us on as we headed back to shore.
It is one of my many fond memories of the Hawaii Ironman triathlon.
Best of all is the current that seems to propel you towards shore as soon as the turn is made.
The one downside to the entire Kona Ironman triathlon swim experience is the sun that will be glaring into your eyes if you breathe to the right on the way back.
For this reason alone, I would be sure to be able to breathe comfortably on both sides so you can have at least some relief from the sun if necessary.
Also, tinted goggles are a big help. When you can make out the church steeple through the sun’s glare, you are almost home and finished the first leg of Hawaii Ironman triathlon.
The bike leg for the most part has stayed intact as well. There is no escaping the endless miles of hot asphalt of the now famous King K highway.
The heat made even more oppressive when its absorbed and reflected by the lava rock that monopolizes the landscape. On the very hot Hawaii Ironman triathlon days, heat waves are clearly visible as you strain to see the road ahead.
In 1984 they were our constant companion as the temperature broke through the 100 degree mark out on the highway. To this day Hawaii Ironman triathlon of 1984 is still one of the hottest Ironman races on record.
Then there is the long climb to the turn-around that is much more than just another hill. The hot winds sweep in from the ocean and can throw you to the ground in a second if you allow yourself to lose concentration.
Finally, on the way home and waiting expectantly for the tailwinds that are sure to come, but for some reason never materialize.
It’s with a great sense of relief and accomplishment that one reaches the bike-run transition only to head back out into Nature’s oven once again.
This is perhaps the biggest change that has been made to the Hawaii Ironman triathlon since the event began. There is no longer a climb out of the “Pit” as the bike/run transition takes place in Kona itself at the race start area.
Thankfully the run course was fairly flat and the climb out of the “Pit” at the bike to run transition was the steepest hill we had to tackle.
No matter what year it is or what changes have been made, there is no avoiding the oppressive heat out on the King K. highway that has spelled the end to many Ironman dreams, especially for many pros as they are running full out in the heat of the day.
If there is any consolation to being an age-grouper intent on just finishing the Hawaii Ironman triathlon, its that you get to run in the coolness that comes with the setting sun.
As you make the turn and head home for the final time it is truly a spectacle to behold as lite-sticks dot the landscape like yellow diamonds flickering in the sudden darkness of the tropical night.
The most welcome sight an age-grouper can see is the glow from the lights of Kona as you edge closer and closer to your Hawaii-Ironman dream.
The town is packed with spectators as you reach the long finishing stretch and make the final dash over the same ground that has seen so much drama over the years.
Dave Scott, Tinley and the Puntos twins. Mark Allen and Julie Moss. Erin Baker, Paula Newby-Fraser and who can forget Laurie Bowden and husband Peter.
So much history and so many great names. If only it were possible for every Ironman to compete on this hallowed ground. It is just so moving and an experience one can never forget.
If you are indeed “Ironstruck,” it should be your mission to be part of the grandfather of all Ironman events worldwide. The Ironman Hawaii Triathlon–so much more than a race.
Ironman.com has all the information on upcoming races.