Ironman has exploded into a multi-million dollar brand and series. As the current president of the World Triathlon Corporation, Ben Feric has said, "A brand so strong people tattoo it to their body." Well...we can debate why they tattoo the logo another time Ben. Ironman is the premiere race series, I'll give you that. They do it better. Period. Everyone can learn from each race - even the organizers. Still, Ironman, regardless of if you qualified for the "big dance" in Kona or "just" did Ironman Wisconsin still is a major accomplishment in life. Kona is special on several levels. For more information on what is happening in Kona RIGHT NOW go to http://www.ironmanlive.com/ or click on Mitch Thrower's blog in the "Great Blogs" section on the right of this blog.
Qualification: you have to qualify to get here. This means that you have to really be fit and execute on race day. Not a simple task in any locale. Even lottery winners (myself being one) had the experience of "Oh my God I'm going to Kona!" in April. When it happened to me I was literally shaking with excitement and NOBODY on the 23rd floor of 123 N. Wacker Drive to hear me scream "YEAH! I'M GOING TO KONA!" They heard me scream that in the finishing straight of June's Buffalo Springs Lake 1/2 IM in Lubbock, TX.
Location, Location, Location: I had never been to Hawaii until I was headed there in October of 2000. To see the island and everything going on during race week is very exciting. Peter Henning of NBC does a great job bringing it to your living room in November/December but to see it live is a must. The physical beauty of the island compares to no place on Earth. Hawaii is what I imagine heaven to be. I love it. (Call the Hawaii Bureau of Tourism)
Conditions: The Hawiian Ironman isn't like any other. The weather will change your perspective regarding how you'd normally approach a race. You are preparing to battle mother nature as well as the distance and competition. Kona is the crucible of Ironman. Make it out...and you are a more concentrated, tougher version of you the triathlete.
Drama: From Julie Moss' crawl to Paula's meltdown after skipping an aid station, the IronWar, to the Hoyt's and John Blais or Macca vs. Norman - Kona has something for everyone.
Racing! Finishing 140.6 miles in the lava fields of Kona is nasty...try racing it. Some of the most amazing finishes are by folks like Jeff Cuddleback, Mike Llerandi, Joe Bonness, Tim Hola and others. These folks bust tail all year because they know in Kona it will come down to seconds; not minutes or hours for a podium place.
Folklore: Add in the folklore of the supernatural and the hand and wrath of God and you really have a race to be a part of.
So keep your American "World" Series and Superbowl. I'll watch every second of a true fall classic...Ironman Hawaii LIVE! from Kona.