Ironman Hawaii Recap

“Of course it’s hard…it’s an Ironman.” I don’t recall where I first heard that, but it has been one of my favorite sayings for years. After all, it’s very hard to come up with a course that covers 140.6 miles and make it easy. Frankly, just riding in a car that far would be a bit uncomfortable.

That being said, Ironman Hawaii is a different kind of hard. It’s really difficult to describe. You can try to explain the heat, the humidity, the hills and the wind, but it just doesn’t sink in until you experience it in person.

For those of you who haven’t been to the Big Island, the Kailua-Kona airport is an open air affair. You de-plane via air stairs and walk across the ramp to the terminal. As soon as the door opened this year, a wave of hot humid air filled the plane and fog even formed. Then the wind hit us, the sweat beads appeared, and all I could think was, “thank goodness I’m only spectating!”

Fortunately, the conditions did little to dampen the mood and the energy (at least for us spectators/mortals) that seems to radiate from the island.

We arrived on Monday of race week and provided this recap from the island. Dispatches from Kona

Now that we’re home and have had time to reflect on our week, we thought it made sense to share a bit more detail.

On Friday afternoon, we went to bike check and offered good wishes to the athletes as they walked in to drop off their gear. The competitors have to walk past a line of industry and press reps who try to note everything from bike and helmet manufacturer, to wheel provider. On that note, we saw our fair share of Argon 18s sporting Enve Wheels and were glad to do our part as many of the Coeur athletes ride Enve equipped Argons.

Ellen Wexler Bike Check Kona

Ellen Wexler at Bike Check

Katie Colville Bike Check Kona

Katie Colville Checking In

Once we were confident our athletes were tucked in, a few of us slipped off to the famous “Thank God I’m not Racing” party hosted by Bob Babbitt. This event which is known by its acronym “T.G.I.N.R.” is an annual tradition and is a gathering point for previous Ironman Hawaii winners and industry folks.

Party Hat

On Saturday, we got up around 4:45 a.m. to help Hailey get ready and then we walked over to Body Marking to offer “Race Day Hugs”. We did this to help lighten the mood as athletes checked in and were thrilled at the positive reception.

Kona Finish Line

We Hoped Good Luck Hugs Would Lighten the Mood a Bit

After that, we took up our spots on the Sea Wall and watched the swim start. This was our sixth straight year in Kona for the Ironman and I believe I can now say with certainty that, no matter how many times you see it, the swim start is still a sight to behold.

After the start, we made our way to T-1 so we could see everyone bike out. Now, we haven’t confirmed this, but it seems as if 2015 was one of the more humid years and it became apparent to us that that combined with the always present heat was going to be an issue throughout the day. Of course, it’s always hot and humid in Kona, but this year just seemed a bit tougher.

Katie Colville on a bike

Katie Colville on Bike Out

As spectators, we had the luxury of ducking into the air conditioning, but the racers just had to grin and bear it. We did avail ourselves of the conditioned air as we stopped by our rental house and grabbed breakfast before heading out on the bike course.

We had enough people on the island to rent two houses and one of them was past the airport, just off the Queen K. We called that “Coeur North” and they were able to snap a few shots of the riders before and after the turn to Hawi. 

Kristin Schwieger on the Bike

Kristin Schwieger on the Bike

Ellen Wexler on the way back from Hawi

Ellen Wexler "I'm doing the Ironman in Hawaii...what the...!"

 Amy Farrell on Bike in Kona

Amy Farrell

Hailey Manning Bike

The always aero Hailey Manning

The “Coeur South” team camped out near the bike finish and did our best to cheer up the battle scarred riders as they finished the bike and transitioned to the run.

As we’re sure you’ll read in many a race report, the run was brutal. We tried to catch as many athletes as possible out on the course.   After a few hours, we headed to the finish line and began to take in one of the most emotional experiences in all of sport. Almost as soon as we arrived, we saw something pretty cool.  An athlete crossed the line and a woman came up to him and dropped to one knee. It wasn't clear what was going on until she pulled out a small box, then we connected the dots.  She was proposing to him!  It was so loud that there's no way we could hear anything, but based on these pictures, it appears that he happily said "Yes"!

Ironman Hawaii Finish Line

We snapped this just after this young lady got up from one knee

Kona Finish Line

It appears he said "Yes"!

Watching someone finish Ironman Hawaii is a powerful experience. By the end of the night, we were hoarse from cheering and drained from the drama.

Laura Sophiea at finish

Laura finished despite a bad knee

Sunday was our official day to celebrate. Coeur hosted a post-race breakfast at Daylight Mind Coffee Shop and were fortunate to have Stef Hanson present to conduct interviews.

Later in the evening, we attended the formal awards ceremony and got to see Hailey, Katie Colville, and Laura Sophiea pick up their bowls.

Hailey Manning on the Podium

Hailey moved up to 4th from 5th on the podium last year

Katie Colville Podium

Katie Colville's first (but probably not last) Kona Podium

Laura Sophiea Podium

Laura Sophiea's Age Group win nets her a bowl and a World Champion Jersey

Before we knew it, our week was over and we were heading back to the mainland. We did have a moment of sadness as it sunk in that Kona was finished for the year, but fortunately we’ll be going to the CAF event in San Diego this weekend and will get to reconnect with many of our friends.

Then, it’s off to Tempe for Ironman Arizona.

In closing, we have to say Congratulations to everyone who raced Hawaii. You are all amazing and the images of you racing will inspire us for years to come. 

Reginald Holden