I have heard that some people visit Hawaii to relax, just nobody that I know.
I arrive on the Tuesday before the race, which is late by some standards, but having shot the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday it is the earliest I can arrive. After several years there, I have it pretty dialed in. I get picked up at the airport at 6:00; my scooter gets dropped off at the hotel at 7:00 and at 7:30 I meet friends for dinner. The next day, continues with media events and all that stuff.
From the athlete side, while there are only about 80 professional triathletes racing, this is the opportunity for almost 2,000 age group triathletes fulfill their dream of competing in the Ironman World Championship. They come from all over the world, with coaches, family members and an entourage, which they richly deserve.
As the week approaches race day the energy in the air definitely changes, with last minute preparations, planning pre-race meals and getting as much rest as possible.
The short version is that race day arrives, the canon fires, and for the next 17 hours these amazing athletes light up the Big Island’s Kona Coast.
The Pro’s have already gone back, eaten and showered by the time that many of the age group athletes are anywhere near the finish. I stayed at the finish line until the 5th Pro Woman had finished and then back to the hotel to edit and to post a gallery to Triathlete.com.
At 9:30 PM I headed back down Ali’i drive to the finish line. The finishers coming through had now been on the course for almost double the time of the winner! I was planning on staying 30 minutes, getting some context shots and then heading to bed!
The crowd was on fire. Instead of 30 minutes, I stayed 2-1/2 hours! Fabulous!
Here are a few snaps from the biggest party on race day, truly inspirational!
Here is my full Triathlete.com 17th Hour Gallery