Race Coverage

Part I - Limiting Exposure...

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By Jennifer Martone

Ironman World Championship Race Report – Kona, Hawaii 2022 - Finding “the spirit of Aloha within,” that’s what those of us competing on the world’s stage were asked to do as we navigated through the barren lava fields, along with the strong wind, heat and sun on October 6thand 8that this year’s World Championship Event. For so many athletes, this race was a few years in the making. The last time Kona hosted Ironman was in October 2019, meaning that three years of qualifiers were split into two separate race days, with women racing Thursday, and [most of the] men on Saturday. Moving forward, Ironman plans to continue this 2-day event format, with more women receiving qualifying slots in 2022-23 to even out the gender numbers, a somewhat polarizing topic. 

Our trip to the Big Island began at MSP airport where I met Caryn Herrick and Peter Wikman at the gate prior to boarding (I actually met Peter’s very sweet mom first, and then introduced myself to the speedy MN royalty triathlete couple as we traded Godspeed sock friends), and they coincidentally ended up in the seat across from me on the first leg of the flight to Honolulu. They are the cutest and friendliest couple. Peter’s AG was assigned to the Thursday race, along with some of the older male AGs to even out the numbers this year. David Swanson, another veteran triathlete, who I first met back at IMFL in 2012 was also on our flight. Always easy to pick out the Ironman athletes with their ripped calves, backpacks, and caps.

My husband Brent, son Sam, and I booked a condo in Waikoloa, about 35 minutes north of all the action. This was somewhat intentional, as I thought it might be too overwhelming to be right at game central. Looking around at athletes from all over the world with zero percent body fat, incredibly buff bodies, and $15,000 bikes can be intimidating. I took the advice from Matt Dixon’s Purple Patch Podcast to limit my exposure and think of this event as a “long training day at the end of a vacation”. A good way to remain calm, and not overdo it in the days leading up to race morning. His advice proved to be spot-on. Brent, Sam, and I took a little day trip to the lush Hilo side of the island on day 2, splashed around in the beautiful ocean on day 3, and took...

short dips in the condo pool. A couple of “uh oh” moments occurred with my bike…after my first shakeout ride on day 1, I found a small hole in my rear tire, that might have been missed, if not for the bright pink latex tube peeking through. Fortunately the bike shop, who’s pump I borrowed and discovered the hole, told me I scored “the last 23cm Continental GP 500 tire in stock”, PHEW. Forty-eight hours later I was back in the same shop b/c my front disc brake was rubbing, turns out it was bent, possibly from the airlines tossing the bike bag in the air and jumping on it? Who knows. The bike tech bent it back into place, something he didn’t recommend, but also said it’s cheaper than buying a new disc and shouldn’t slow me down.

Next day I met coach Jenny Parker Harrison (photo), along with a handful of athletes that she was coaching, at the pier swim start. My first glimpse of the intimidating scene. I had no idea until I showed up that a 6:30 am swim practice was something that 350+ athletes did at the same time?! The underpants run was thirty minutes from go time so I thought the swim area would be quiet on Tuesday. This was all good race practice though. We checked our bags with the friendly volunteers and jumped into the VERY choppy water. Swells! I had only seen pictures of Kona, and maybe didn’t pay attention to the chop in the water the last time it aired on NBC. I was thinking peaceful, calm bay water? That aside, the beautiful turquoise hue of the water, plus the amazing temperature, made it a delight to get in to. Julia Mairs Weisebecker, another MN elite master and super-fast swimmer, also dove in with our group. Off to the coffee boat we go! Once we arrived, I begged my swimming companion Lawrence to go further, a total of 1,600 yards that felt like 3,000 (the coffee boat is certainly a novelty, but with all that salt in the water I would’ve been more pleased with a glass of cold H20 at that moment). ...

Part II will post on Monday.

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