I've been watching a few videos that have been posted on Kona. I get a smile on my face every time and my heart rate rises. What is it about this race? Going into the race I had heard that the course was rather bland, and that it was just "another" Ironman, like all the others. But I am a people person, and I think that "Kona" could be held on the moon and I would still feel the same way about it. There is a magic in the air there and I've been wondering "why" for the last few weeks.
I've been thinking about it a lot, and for me, I think I've finally figured it out. As I said, I'm such a people person. I'm an empathetic person, an emotional person, and I tend to key into the vibe and the feeling of my environment. This is how I can best sum it up. At Kona you get to see what it looks like when the best triathletes in the world spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 11+ months a year, doing the right and diligent thing for their racing. There is such large amounts of competition at this race that to see that Macca won means that he dedicated every day to the Kona cause. Every workout, every meal, every nights sleep, this was the predominant decision maker in his life. All those choices were in the name of Kona. The competition is so deep that if these guys and gals don't go that route, someone will, and that someone will then be ahead of them on race day.
I remember Chuckie saying at one time, if you want to know who is consistently doing the right thing, and training the right way, look at the people who are consistently winning. Winning doesn't lie. People like Chrissie, and Julie, and Mirinda. They are doing the right things, whatever they are, and whether you agree with their practices, you can't deny that they have gotten them to the top. The finish line reveals all.
I, like most triathletes have read the articles about Chrissie and why she didn't race. Chrissy said in an article in Lava (a great read by the way) about Mirinda.
Her performance across the board was phenomenal and she’s a worthy champion. I didn’t get to the start line healthy and she’s the world champion, period. - Chrissie Wellington
I really like this because Chrissie is recognizing that Mirinda is the World Champion because she did "the most right". That's what this race is about, all of these athletes fighting tooth and nail to train the right way, rest the right way, eat the right way, etc etc etc and the one who does the most things right is the one that runs down Ali'i first. Chrissie didn't get there healthy, and that's the bottom line.
Another quote in TriEurpoe from Chrissie:
It’s my responsibility to get to the start line healthy and I did not." - Chrissie Wellington
The quest to do "the most right" does not stop with the PROs. I don't know if you have looked over a few of the age grouper times, but they are clearly showing that we age groupers are learning to "do more right" as well, showing up to the big island stronger and faster than ever. On the female side, the fastest amateur of the day in 2010 was 35 year old Belinda Harper who went 9:44 (21st overall woman) breaking Kathleen Calkins Kona amateur world record by two minutes (2009, 13th overall female, 9:46). Kathleen had broken Bree Wee's 2007 female amateur world record by a little under 2 minutes (2007, 13th overall woman, 9:47). The mens amateur course record went down this year as well with Trevor Delsaut clipping Maximilian Longree's 2006 record of 8:41:02 down to 8:40:43. We haven't seen the end of this era of record breaking results either.
I often wonder what is creating this? Is access to good coaching more available? Are we second generation triathletes yielding the benefits of the triathletes 15-20 years ago's mistakes? Is it just that bikes are faster and we can shift electronically if we so choose to? Is it a thing with numbers? More races, more athletes, more talent? Is the island just "nicer" now? I can't answer most of these, but I know that whatever it is more and more amateurs are taking Kona very seriously and dedicating their year to doing the right thing day after day, and thus are showing up on the island ready to run down Ali'i first...whether it's in their age group, or as an overall amateur.
All I can say is I understand the allure, I get it. To make daily decisions year round based on a race that will happen for one day in October, while trying to keep a house running smoothly and your insanity in tact is one heck of a challenge. Beyond that, to choose to do so even though you don't get paid to do this (quite the opposite), this shows just how much we AG triathletes love that challenge, and love the sport. There is no "bottom line" for the amateurs, we are deep in the negative from a financial perspective. The race is our way to fill the deep financial hole full with life lessons/experiences, personal accomplishment, personal fortitude, a chiseled body, new friends, finishers medals, age group awards, and...well...loads and loads of swim/bike/run gear!
So come next October, I can predict that there will be amateur guys and gals on the big island that have been doing the right thing all year long, that have been eating right, listening to their coaches (who are all great coaches), getting their sleep, putting in the hours, balancing training with families, and jobs, and these women and men will descend on that lava laden island and will swim, bike, and run their hearts out to chase Belinda Harpers and Trevor Delsauts amateur records. It's the way of the times now, and if you are thinking about chasing those records, the race to do the right thing started 18 days ago.