For many people, the world championships in Kona in October of each year is their goal in Ironman. Maybe I shouldn’t even say many…here is how you can get to Kona: you must qualify in another Ironman race, and there are usually only a couple of slots per age group. [I think there are also a handful of charity slots]. This year there were only about 2400 people. So it is no easy feat to get to compete in Kona!! It is not even on my radar.
Still, I was thrilled when I realized shortly into my 5 hour bike ride on October 13th that it was Kona day, and I ended up spending most of my indoor ride, and then my evening, watching live coverage of the pros racing at Kona. I do not watch sports on tv, and am somewhat envious of people really into sports – but here I spent most of a day tuned into this phenomenally inspiring race. It made those 5 hours go quite quickly and I felt like I was inspired and could have kept going just walking those pros on the bike with their super fast cadence.
It was the 40th anniversary of Ironman at Kona, and it was a record setting day. Usually the weather is phenomenally hot and humid, but the temps were better, ocean conditions made for a good swim, and there was not much wind on the bike. I find it amazing to watch these beautiful bodies function at such a level. They literally go twice as fast as I do. I burst into tears twice! Patrick Lange from Germany won (and broke the course record) for the men…and then he proposed to his girlfriend. That’s when I burst into tears the first time. And Daniela Ryf, from Switzerland, won for women, 4th time in a row. She was quite behind after the swim because she was stung on both sides by jellyfish. She said that she thought about quitting and didn’t know how she could go on, but thought about the children watching and continued–managing to reach well into first place. I burst into tears again. Amazing!!
I agree with Lionel Sanders from Canada who said during the pre-race interviews that it is so amazing to have pros racing right with age group athletes, and how everyone is working their hardest whether at the front or the back. Furthermore, those at the back suffer for much longer! Nonetheless, it is still absolutely amazing to watch the pros race!