We’re now officially less than seven days away from Ironman’s biggest race, the World Championships from Kona, Hawaii. If you’re there racing, good luck! I don’t envy you. If you’re there to spectate, consider yourselves one of the lucky ones! Though I’ve never raced in Kona, my partner from This Week in Triathlon, Kevin Taddonio did as an amateur a few years back, so it was interesting to get perspective from someone who had done both.
Here’s a few things you might already know about Kona. It’s hot, it’s humid, and it’s expensive. If you’re there while the race is going on, it’s also filled with people in ridiculously good shape. I might add that if you’re not racing, it may actually be one of those vacations from which you come back in better shape than you left. Why? That’s because of all of the exercising you’ll witness leading up to the race. There’s not getting around it, you’ll want to work out!
So now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, what triathlon-related things should you do leading up to the race? There’s a number of them, and chances are you won’t have time to do all, but at least you can try.
Check out the Expo:
Sure, there’s an expo at every race, but this is truly the World Championships of expos. It’s not so much what they’ve got, but it’s the fact that most companies that are big in the triathlon space (and some that aren’t) will be present. Some will even have special edition Kona gear.
Go for a swim:
When in Rome… even if you’re not a swimmer and hate to swim. Just do it. Although we’ll caution you that you might be a little self conscious if you’re above the 4% body fat threshold.
Check out the Kona Underpants Run:
Again, when in Rome… see above about being self conscious. Also don’t be the creep taking candid pictures of in-shape men and women in their underwear. It’s creepy. Pictures of people posing for the camera or running are allowed!
Go for a run along Ali’i Drive:
Aside from the fact that you’ll most likely run alongside one of the top age group or pro triathletes in the world, you’ll gauge how miserable the athletes will be on race day, and how fast they can still run in spite of that.
Check out a party or taping of something:
We recommend the Slowtwitch Gathering, though if you didn’t RSVP by now, it’s too late, you’re most likely not getting in. Aside from that, there’s Breakfast with Bob from Huggo’s, whatever @TheRealStarky is doing, and of course the TGINR (Thank God I’m Not Racing) Party!
Have some Kona coffee at Island Lava Java:
This place is synonymous with the World Champs, and though it’s not anything special (just coffee and average food) they are THE place to go to “be seen” before the sun sets. Chances are you’ll run into a pro triathlete here and there, Jay from Lava, or Herbert from Slowtwitch. Needless to say, it’s also got a great view into the ocean, and plenty of opportunity to people watch along Ali’i Drive.
Hang out by the bike check-in:
If you’re into gear – and I am – you’ll see all kinds of cool stuff during these 4-6 hours. Though I recommend you don’t stay for that long. As an American, you’ll realize that a lot of the cool stuff is limited to the European market. Even that cool Cervelo P5 paint scheme is only available in Europe. It’s important to note, that this time is best spent at one of the 2nd level restaurants near-by sipping on your cold beverage of choice.
Figure out your sleep schedule:
If there’s one thing that will ruin this trip is sleeping in! Don’t do it! Again, when in Rome… most of the athletes, their families, and people there for the race will be on an early-rise, early-to-bed, schedule. You won’t get the full experience if you don’t get out of the house until after 11am.