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Swim Bike Run

Lady The world championship Ironman triathlon is held here in Kona.  It is a huge event with 1822 athletes at the starting line this year.  The race consists of a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride followed by a 26.2 mile run.  This year's winner finished the race in just over eight hours.  Spending thirty minutes on a treadmill seems like a long time to me, I can't imagine eight hours.

The race started at 6:45am.  We purposely showed up early so we could get a good view.  We found a decent open spot and waited there for about an hour for the race to start.  Ten minutes before the race started, the old lady in front of us decided she needed to stand on the retaining wall, totally blocking what little view we had.

It took nearly an hour for the first of the swimmers to get back.  By then we had moved to another spot near the start of the bike course.  When coming out of the water, some of the swimmers need a few seconds before their legs worked again.  Some swimmers even needed to be carried up the stairs.  Most managed to run to their bikes and ride off as if there was nothing to it.  I was thinking that swimming across the harbor would be a long ways.  These swimmers swam out of sight then back again.

Bicycles The fastest bike course times are about four and a half hours.  While the athletes were out in the heat peddling across the island, we decided to head home, eat breakfast and take a nap.  As you can imagine, with so many spectators watching the event, parking was a nightmare.  We parked a mile or so away then walked down to the starting line.  Unfortunately, on the way back, we realized that we had parked on the far side of the race course which was now crowded with speeding bicyclers that were not at all interested in slowing down for pedestrians.  It took a few minutes but we did finally manage to find a gap large enough to dart across.  I'm pretty sure we didn't cause any racers to lose the race because of our mad dash across the street.

Later in the afternoon we decided to go back into town and watch the race some more.  The best of the racers finish in eight hours, most don't.  Twelve hours would be an excellent finish time.  Midnight, seventeen hours after the start of the race, is the cut-off time.

Crowd We joined the crowd downtown and watched the competitors run across the finish line.  Most appeared to be in good shape, tired but happy and still able to walk on their own.  One guy even stopped and did push-ups on the finish line.  Others collapsed and couldn't take another step.

We got Burger King for dinner then sat outside and cheered on the racers until a little after dark.  Where we sat we could see runners heading down the hill with only a mile left to go.  Again, many of them made it look easy while others were obviously pushing themselves beyond their limits.  You could see the agony on many of their faces as they tried to ignore their cramps, blisters and overwhelming fatigue.  We could also see runners heading up the hill with over 11 miles left to go.  It was amazing to think that they had been at it all day long, it was well past dark and they still had 11 miles to go.  We didn't stick around until midnight to see which ones made it.


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