Before we continue our series of interviews with Coeur Kona Qualifiers, we have to state that this is not a typo.  She is going to Kona for the 24th time!  Ladies and gentleman...please meet the amazing Laura Sophia!

Laura Running

Coeur: First, Congratulations on qualifying for Ironman Hawaii again.  And again. And again! We’ve got to ask…how does that feel?  Is Ironman Hawaii part of your DNA now?

Laura:  It feels so wonderful to be racing in Kona again and yes it is totally a part of my DNA! I continue to learn something new every year and I know I am blessed being able to race #24.

Coeur: Is there a particular race or two that stand out among the 23 Hawaii Ironmans that you have already completed?

Laura: There are two races for me that stand out. The first was 2001 when I won my first AG title coming back from 25 min down after the bike. That was the year I learned about keeping hold of my dreams and never letting them go. The second race was in 2005 when at age 50 I had my fastest race in Kona. Again, learning that age can be a number!!

Coeur: While Georgia can get warm, it's starting to cool down now, so how have been getting ready for the weather on the Big Island? 

Laura: This year I was fortunate to arrive on the Big Island Sept 23rd and my last run in Atlanta was 88 degrees and 90% humidity!

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?

Laura: I do like to go and spend a couple of hours at the expo and then I try to stay away from town . Although, I love the UP run and really enjoy seeing  people you only see once a year in Kona.

Coeur:  Coeur has a nice sized contingent going to Kona  and a couple are first time qualifiers.  What advice do you have for a first time racer in Kona?

Laura: Smile, smile, and smile. If you smile those peaks and more importantly those valleys will disappear sooner.  Stay positive all day. You are racing with the best in the world in a wonderful playground with the most fantastic finish line in sports!

Laura with Friends

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?

Laura: Kona is my goal race every year. I can’t imagine it is every going to be “just another” ironman. You need all your “heart & courage” for this one race!

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?

Laura: I love the cheering. I love seeing friends and family out there.  It is a huge mental boost!  I am not sure I hear much but I really appreciate the cheers! 

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?

Laura: I am always thankful that I have another opportunity to be at the magical finish line. I usually smile, cry, and then collapse at the finish!  It is truly the best in sport!

Laura with Paula Newby Frasier

Coeur: For most people, there’s a decent sized break after Kona.  Will you take some time off from training as well? If so, do you give yourself a post season reward of any kind?

Laura: I plan to take time off this season. I would have to say chocolate and wine in that order and going back to MI to see my kids will be my reward!

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

Reginald Holden