As part of our run up to the Hawaii Ironman World Championships, we’re continuing our discussions with members of the team who have qualified for the Big Dance. Today, we spend some time with Coeur co-founder and perennial Kona Finisher, Hailey Manning.

Hailey Manning Triathlete

Coeur: First, Congratulations on qualifying for Ironman Hawaii…again! How does it feel to be to be going back to Kona?

Hailey: Yeah! Thanks, I am SO excited to be going back to Kona. It is quite possibly my fave time of year. I get to see family, friends and hang out with honu!  

Coeur: Now, this is what…your fifth year in a row racing Kona? How does this one feel compared to your first?

Hailey: That's right, 5 in a row :) The first year, I really just let myself enjoy being in Kona and celebrated that fact that I had qualified. I'd be lying if I said this year was the same as that one, as I really have been working very hard and am hoping to be much more competitive than in 2010 :)

Coeur: As one of the top ranked Age Group athletes, we know you wouldn’t have any issue qualifying in any format but what do you think of the current process for getting a slot to Kona? Would you be in favor of some type of points system like they have with the Pros?

Hailey: I think I am in favor of leaving it as is. Points seem to reward those who race often, versus those who race well. I don't want to be forced to put myself through multiple IM's per year to get to Kona just because others are willing to race 5x to get a slot but not win their race. I feel that it's the championships, and the cream of the crop should be there to compete against each other.

Coeur: Speaking of Pros, you went sub 10 last year in Kona, did the thought of getting your pro card cross your mind?

Hailey: Ahh, that crossed my mind so many times as I've been able to take the pro card after a few of my races. But although it's crossed my mind, I decided last year that I would rather remain an age grouper...I love Hawaii too much to go pro! I think in order to be a truly successful pro and to have all of the advantages you can, you need to devote ALL of your time to triathlon and not have another FT job...which I do and am not ready to quit!

Hailey Manning on bike

Coeur: As we mentioned, your finishing time last year in Kona had a nine (9) in front of it. If you had to choose, would you rather have a faster time this year and the same relative position in your age group or a slower time but a higher finishing position? Now, don’t take the easy way out and say "faster time and higher position"!

Hailey: Definitely a higher finishing rank. To go sub-ten was AMAZING in Kona last year, but I was 8th in the AG, and I would much rather go slower and get a bowl (top 5) then go sub-ten again. And in Kona, I don't think you can say that every year it's possible to break 10 hours as if there is strong wind, for most AG women, it's not going to happen.

Coeur: Since you’ve raced on the Big Island so many times, what advice would you have for a first time Kona racer?

Hailey: Don't get too excited, it's a long day and it WILL get hot. Keep eating, drinking and just settle in. Embrace the heat and humidity like a warm hug and when it gets windy, just think of Madame Pele and work with her, not against her.  

Coeur: Of course Kona is the big show in long course triathlon and everyone who is anyone seems to be on the Big Island. We've heard that some athletes like to experience as much of the race as they can and spend a lot of time on Alii and at the expo. Others make a point of staying away from the action so that they don't get distracted. Do you all fall into one camp or another?

Hailey: I like to go to the expo once to say hello to friends and after that, high tail it back to my camp with my friends and family who I know I am able to be around stress free. I really do enjoy the environment of Kona and all of the energy, so I don't avoid town at all...who can stay away from Daylight Mind Coffee and the pier for swimming? I think you can feed off of the energy rather than lest it stress you out, but you shouldn't spend all day on your feet!

Coeur: We don't want you to give away any secrets but do you race Kona any differently since it is the World Championships or once the gun goes off is it just another Ironman?

Hailey: I think I am always more invested in Kona, even the prep leading up to it. I am able to dedicate myself more to this race since I love it so much. But once the gun goes off, the nerves go away and it is just time to RACE and see how quickly I can get to the finish line.

Coeur: Quite a few of us will be out cheering on the course in Kona, so we have to ask. Do you ever hear what people yell to you on the bike and the run or are you concentrating so much on your body that you don't notice? Also, if you do notice, what is the best thing you've heard from a fan during a race?

Hailey: I always notice the cheers. I may not be able to acknowledge them, but I always hear them and use them. In the past few years, both my husband, Mark and Kebby will be on much of the course on bikes during the marathon and I truly NEED them both to talk to me and keep cheering. I also know that I will see my family at the same mile marker each year and that is around mile 4 of the marathon and again, I need to see them for energy!

Female on a bike

Coeur: We think that the finish on Alii drive is one of the most magical places in all of sport. What do you think you'll be feeling when you make the turn on to Alii?

Hailey: It IS magical!! First thought...thank buddah we are almost able to stop moving! 2nd thought, F%$! I love this place and this race! 3rd thought...take off your sunglasses and high five EVERYONE in the finishing chute. 4th for the camera!  

Coeur: Well, thank you so much for chatting with us! We’ll see you soon in Kona!

Hailey: Thanks for the awesome questions and I can't wait to see everyone on the Big Island!!!


Reginald Holden