The 2017 version of the Ironman World Championships of Triathlon in Kailua-Kona has come and gone and it was once again an incredibly dramatic and emotional event. We’re always amazed by the atmosphere and no matter how many times we attend, we get a bit teary eyed when it’s time to go home. There’s an almost electric feel in the air when you get off the plane and you know that the week ahead will be a roller coaster of emotions.
Coeur had a booth in the expo again and that provided us with a home base and a front row seat to many of the activities. As some of you know, working a booth means lots of hours on your feet and plenty of hard work, but there’s just something about the energy in Kona that keeps you going.
We loved the view of the ocean from our booth
Every morning, we’d open up the tent and meet people as they came in from their practice swim or headed out for a shakeout bike ride on the Queen K. Since Ironman Hawaii is such a press event, we were fortunate to have 303 Triathlon and Witsup (two of our favorite media companies) stop by to interview Kebby and Hailey.
303 Triathlon stopping by to interview Kebby & Hailey
Witsup in the house!
As many of you probably know, Thursday morning kicks off with the Underpants Run. This event actually started as a tongue in cheek protest against public displays of skimpy underwear. Now it’s a fun opportunity for the athletes and a great fund-raiser for the Island.
Fun in our Undies
The tone seems to change after the UPR as the enormity of what’s in front of them becomes more real to the athletes and by Friday when bike check in finishes, the streets are almost devoid of racers. There’s an almost eerie feel in the air as if everyone on the island is holding their collective breath. For everyone not racing there’s a gathering at a restaurant called Huggo’s that is called “Thank God I’m Not Racing” or “TGINR”. It’s a bit of an industry party and we always stop in to say hello. We don’t stay long because Saturday morning is race day! We set our alarms for 4:00 a.m. so we can continue with a fun tradition we started in 2012 called “Race Day Hugs”.
The Race Day Hug Team ready to "Hug it Out"
The team puts on their Hug t-shirts and camps out at the entrance to body marking. Many of the folks on the Coeur team have raced Kona and they know first-hand how tightly wound people can be when they get to the race venue. There’s nothing like a legitimate hug to help shoo away the butter flies!
After that, we took our stations on the course and began a carefully choreographed day of cheering.
The Coeur Sports Cheer Squad in Action
A couple people take up their post at one of our condos and watch results online and everyone on the course communicates via phone. Coeur had a big group racing and we had a blast cheering and tracking everyone.
Despite the 4:00 a.m. start, the day seemed short. A little over an hour after their start, the ladies began to come flying by on their bikes.
Lectie starting her ride. She would finish the day in the top ten of her Age Group
Just a 112 miles in howling winds and high heat to go (before the marathon)
Before we knew it, they were out on the run.There were so many folks racing in Coeur that it was hard to track everyone but we have to make mention of our two ambassadors who made the podium in their age groups.
The first is the ever smiling Amy Farrell. She came off the bike in 8th place in her age group and began to pick off the ladies in front of her one by one. She ran out of real estate before she could get them all, but we were still over the moon that she ran her way into second place!
Amy running down a dream
Despite a severe knee injury that kept her out of racing for a while, Laura Sophiea came back in great shape and was off the bike in first place. She dug deep and also grabbed a second place in her age group. For those of you who don’t know Laura, she is one of the nicest individuals you’ll ever meet. This was her 26th race in Kona and she has a bowl collection that is so big it must require a separate room in her house!
Laura on the run
We absolutely loved that when we saw people in Coeur, they frequently made the heart symbol. As some of you know, Coeur is French for Heart and the root of the word Courage. Training and racing takes a lot of both, so we have adopted the heart as our company symbol.
Kim Bramblett throwing down the heart on Alii
We "Heart You" Amy Farrell
Stephanie has lots of Heart
It was a long day but in seemingly no time, the brave finishers were coming down Alii and another chapter of Ironman Hawaii was coming to a close. If you're lucky enough to have been at the finish line of any Ironman you know how special a place it is and Kona is all of that magnified by 100. We were fortunate to witness hundreds of athletes cross the line and were moved by every one of them.
One of our favorite moments happened before we could get our camera up but we loved it so much we have to share. An Asian gentleman finished and before he left the crest of the finish ramp, he turned to look back at the course. He then lowered his arms to his sides and made a ceremonial bow to the course. This gesture of respect and honor for the course, the island and everything the race stands for was incredibly powerful and it will stay with us for a long, long time.
Another one that we loved was snapping a picture of Ellen Wexler as she was greeted by her husband at the finish. Ellen left it all on the course and we can imagine how nice it is to have a loved one meet you at the finish.
Ellen Wexler greeted by her husband at the finish
Fortunately, after the work was done, there was some time for fun. Every Sunday after the race we host a post-race brunch for our athletes and customers at Daylight Mind Coffee. It’s a chance to hear about everyone’s race and for Kebby to share a few words of gratitude with the team.
We held our post race brunch at Daylight Mind Coffee
Before we left we took one more picture of the team that made it to Kona
Now, we’re back home and we’re working on some great things for 2018. Before we close, we just have to reiterate how proud we are of the entire Coeur team. That includes the amazing staff and our ambassador team. You all are the embodiment of our values and we see and hear every day how you impact lives and do your part to make the world a bit better. For that we are incredibly grateful.
Happy Training & Racing
Your Friends at Coeur