The Kona IRONMAN World Championship returns.
What this means for locals…
Shelter In Place: Driving anywhere on October 12th? Going shopping? Going to the airport? Better think again and plan to shelter in place. The Kona Ironman World Championship race is going to close most major roads for much of the day.
What this means for me…
‘Cottonman’ Time: My wife makes me get out my official ‘Cottonman’ t-shirt to symbolize the amount of physical effort I put forth on this date.
About The Ironman: For over four decades the Kona IRONMAN World Championship has brought the world’s best athletes together in competition.
The inaugural KONA™ race was held in 1978 as a way to challenge athletes who had seen success at endurance swimming and running events. Honolulu-based Navy couple Judy and John Collins proposed combining the three toughest endurance races in Hawai’i—the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112 miles of the Around-O’ahu Bike Race and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon—into one event.
On February 18, 1978, 15 people came to Waikiki to take on the IRONMAN challenge. Prior to racing, each received three sheets of paper with a few rules and a course description. The last page read: “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!”
In 1981, the race moved from the tranquil shores of Waikiki to the barren lava fields of Kona on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Along the Kona Coast, black lava rock dominates the panorama, and athletes battle the “ho’omumuku” crosswinds of 45 mph, 95-degree temperatures and a scorching sun.
The IRONMAN World Championship centers on the dedication and courage exhibited by participants who demonstrate the IRONMAN mantra that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.® On October 12th, over 2,000 athletes will embark on a 140.6-mile journey that presents the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit to earn the title of IRONMAN.
What Is The Economic Impact Of The Kona Ironman Course? West Hawaii Today reports, “According to a 2006 economic impact study, these athletes will spend about eight days on the Island of Hawaii and four more days elsewhere in the state. That same study, now rather dated and based on an athlete population 30 percent smaller than this year’s registrant pool, estimated that those visitors spent approximately $26 million in Hawaii that year.” If you adjust that amount for inflation, a very seat-of-the-pants estimate would equate the event’s local economic impact to roughly (very) $46 million this year.
The 2019 Vega Ironman Course
The Ironman Swimming Course – Swim: Without a doubt, the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship swim start is one of the most emotionally charged starts in sport, thanks to the buzz of the media, enthusiastic spectators and the sun rising over Mt. Hualalai. Currents can be a factor, so a few pre-race practice swims in the bay are advised. Water temperature in Kailua Bay is typically around 79°F/ 26°C.
The Ironman Biking Course – Bike: As cyclists make their way north along the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, from Kailua-Kona to the turnaround in Hawi, they can be exposed to intense trade winds that buffet much of the exposed western and northern coast of the Big Island. The winds vary in intensity from steady to heavy blasts that can blow cyclists across the road. For this reason, disc wheels are not permitted. Winds may subside during the gradual climb to Hawi but pick up again as athletes make their way to T2.
The Ironman Running Course – Run: After an out and back trip through the crowds of Kona town and Alii Drive, runners head up Palani Road to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway and the challenges that await on it. Their destination is the infamous Natural Energy Laboratory Hawai`i Authority (NELHA), with this year’s course featuring more miles in NELHA than ever before. After a return trip on on the highway all that’s left is a victory lap through Kona town and the excitement of the finish line.