Strange times...how often have you heard that phrase uttered in the past couple of months/years?! While we are normally just ramping up the season here in North America, there are many athletes, some of ours included, who are ready to toe the line at the first Ironman World Championships NOT hosted in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. There are varying opinions on this particular race...and especially with this particular venue during these particularly strange times. I find myself with so many questions, so few answers, and have to fall back on one consistent thought. Put aside any thoughts/feelings you may have about the "business" side of all things Ironman...that's a blog for a different time...and get back to thinking about the significance of this achievement for these particular athletes.
These athletes (and their friends/families/employees/employers/pets/coffee shop workers/gas station employees/random stranger on a cycling route who has an accessible hose spicket available to a cyclist riding by who's been without water for 7 miles and is starting to see stars in the daylight) have all sacrificed one way or another for a shot at this great race. The athletes that have qualified for the Ironman World Championship (yes I put the focus on qualified...again setting us up for another blog on the "Legacy" program at a future date) are some of the most fit individuals on the planet, and have worked for years to finally reach this moment. So athletes who are racing...take it in, enjoy it, smile, and realize you've accomplished something most only dream of.
The typical "Kona Hype" is non-existent, the professional field is not as "stacked" as it typically would be. So the question then is why? And I think it's rather simple...if you've been to Kona to race then you know "the feel". When you are on that island the outside world simply does not exist. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who could tell you what's happening in the news, or the latest political battle over some senseless social media post. Because of the lack of "hype" I'm giving major props to the athletes competing. You are going to go out there to suffer, sweat, likely swear, definitely question your sanity, yearn for a cheeseburger/fries/milkshake late in the marathon and your dedication isn't lost on us. Maybe you've been to Kona before and wanted a different experience, or maybe you are confident in your abilities to qualify for Kona another time. Whatever that may be, best of luck, we can't wait to watch.