Kona’s Ali’i Drive, typically the kitschy “Fisherman’s Wharf” of the Big Island, becomes the center of the triathlon universe for the few days leading up to Kona (and probably the city most densely populated with attractive people in the world). To quote FOTF Mimi Winsberg–it’s a “Star Trek Convention For Triathletes” with every character and business relating to triathlon or ironman coming out of the woodwork to get noticed. Triathlon companies co-opt local businesses to have a presence during the week and compete to see who can get the most people wearing their free t-shirts and visors. Who knows, in a couple years maybe we’ll set up the TriForce HQ in the “donkey balls” store.
Things to Do in Kona During IM Race Week:
Underpants Run. It’s original intent of being a statement against hanging around town half naked has been lost. Now the underpants run is a celebration of the sexy triathlon body clad only with the most minimal of ugly triathlon gear (e.g. speed0 + compression socks + HR strap) or underwear.
Swim to the Coffees Of Hawaii Boat. FOTF Albert Boyce’s coffee company makes a splash every year by parking his boat near the festivities and bypassing the Ironman company’s control of the area. This great example of guerrilla marketing has become a Kona institution, as athletes swim a few hundred yards out to the boat for delicious espresso.
image posted by Herbert on slowtwitch forum
Eat and People Watch at Lava Java. Lava Java is THE place to eat and people watch in Kona. You can just sit back, have a coffee and a healthy lunch and watch the beautiful abs going by all week long. This year I ate breakfast a couple tables down from Macca and Terenzo Bozzone. Last year I saw former champions Tim DeBoom and Norman Stadler eating. The food is healthy & delicious, the coffee 100% Kona, and the scene is second to none.
Swim and Fish Watching at the Pier. Swim part of the swim course while checking out the coral and beautiful fish. The surf is a little “active” this year and I’m probably only spotting buoys on every 3rd or 4th sighting. Let’s hope it’s a super rough swim this year–it adds to the excitement!
Shop at The Merchandise Tent. No Iroman race is complete without visiting the circus tent sized merchandise store. If people are in a frenzy to buy products at a “normal” Ironman, it becomes even harder to exercise shopping inpulse control at Kona. So we grab armloads of Kona t-shirts, cycling jerseys, baby clothes, sippy cups, trailer hitches, shot glasses, towels, jakets, etc., etc, You can buy anything you can think of with an M-Dot on it.
Kona Bike & Wheel Count. When you check your bike, there is a legion of triathlon web sites & publications checking what equipment you’re using. You feel like a celebrity on the Oscars red carpet “Coady– Who are you riding?!!” This year I’ll count as 1 point for Cervelo and 1 point for Zipp.
image from livemultisport.com
Make the Rounds At The Expo. Visit the expo where the companies are eager to show off their latest innovations and to get more Kona athletes using their stuff. As a coach and athlete I made the rounds to see about getting the inside scoop for TriForcers.
I got a picture with Michele Jones (Kona champion and olympic medalist).
I hit the rock tape booth and got taped and chatted with the guys about how to use rock tape to keep our muscles working.
I hit the Trainingpeaks booth and chatted with TP founder Dirk Friel about Trainingpeaks (a daily part of every TriForcer’s life) and “gently suggested” some improvements.
I spoke with the computrainer rep about their (perpetually) about to be released new software. I also chatted about how to create a multi rider setup (some day we’ll all be racing together on a virtual course.)
I visited the Newton Running booth & snapped up a discount pair of shoes, a free limited edition Kona shirt and Kona 2011 visor, and inquired about sponsorship.
I sampled some flavors of IM Perform drink (my favorite IM drink) served by a colorful character.
I got some free ART done. That stuff really works!
I keep telling myself that I’m not going to accept my slot next year, but Kona Race week is so much fun that it’s addictive. It’s hard to imagine staying home!