Swim… Bike… Run…
Little old Kailua Kona is home to the Ironman Triathlon Hawaii. The Kona Ironman competition has been going strong for over 30 years.
What is Ironman?
Held every year in October on a Saturday close to the full moon. 1500 crazy people jump in the ocean at 7AM and swim 2.4 miles. Then get on a bicycle and ride 112 miles to Hawi and back, through the blistering hot lava fields between here and there. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the 60 mile per hour gusts of wind up by Kawaihae harbor that sometimes show up and blow riders off the road.
But wait there’s more
Then last but not least if the sharks haven’t got you during the swim or the heat exhaustion from the bike ride, the final portion of the race, oh did I forgot to mention it was a race? Is a 26 mile marathon. No kidding! I have to admit, they do have some pretty cool tools they use to compete. State of the art bikes, and swim gear that is cutting edge.
Maps of the Ironman Triathlon Hawaii course
- See Swim Map Download PDF file here
- See Bike Map Download PDF file here
- See Run Map Download PDF file here
My favorite way to watch the race
Inside on TV with the air conditioning on and drinking ice tea while I look out the window at the crazy people dropping like flies. I’ve gone down to the pier at 7AM and watched the start of the race before, it’s quite the spectacle. I’d recommend it to any first timer at the event.
Some years there has been live coverage of the race on TV. During those years I’d just watch from home. I could always tell when the racers were getting close to my house, you could hear the helicopters overhead following the leaders.
That’s right, the race weaves through town and I live right next to a road where the competitors pass by.
What do the locals do during Ironman?
Ironman requires about 5000 volunteers to man the aid stations along the race route and set up all the infrastructure required to hold an event of this magnitude.
Years ago there just wasn’t much going on in Kona and this was the bigevent of the year. The two heavy traffic weeks of the year were at Christmas and Ironman. You could set your watch to it.
Now days traffic is heavy year round. That’s a story all in it’s self due to the lack of roads here. Anyways, back to what people do during Ironman, some of the people I know go off island the weekend of the race, or go to Hilo on the other side of the island. Reason being, the whole town is pretty much shut down. Most of the surface streets here are used for the bike and marathon portions of the race.
Some people I know volunteer to help run the race. If you’re a people person it’s a great way to spend a day or more.
Best Places To Watch The Race
I’ve watched the start of the race from the seawall a couple times. It’s ok. But there is tons and I mean tons of people down there at the start.
I think a great place to watch the start would be from the lawn in front of the Kona Inn or the lawn on the north side of Bubba Gumps, both of these places are on Alii Dr.
Ironman Triathlon Hawaii is definitly a must see event.