Every sport has its big day, hockey has the Stanley Cup, baseball has the World Series, and football has the Super Bowl. This weekend was the Super Bowl of Ironman triathlons, the 2014 Kona Ironman World Championships.
This year celebrated the 35th anniversary of the world championships. Raced in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, the Ironman World Championships are billed as one of the hardest endurance races in the world. What makes the race so hard are the natural conditions and the other competitors. Racing in Hawaii means that the water temperatures are so warm that wetsuits aren’t allowed, that and the ocean swells can make the swim very difficult. The bike course may not have the most elevation gain out of any Ironman race but racing through the lava fields means braving brutal cross winds and extreme temperatures. The run is just as brutal the bike, you run along the highway, where you face high temperatures and humidity. Luckily this year saw picture perfect conditions for the competitors, low temperatures, low winds and a pod of dolphins swimming with the age groupers.
Not just anyone can sign up for the Ironman World Championships. As an age group athlete, you need to earn a slot at a qualifying event, usually by winning or coming second in your age group. You can also gain entry by winning the Ironman lottery or winning the Ironman charitable eBay Auction. This means that almost every competitor is fast! Even the pros need to qualify for Ironman Kona. Only the top 35 pro women and top 53 pro men raced this past weekend.
On top of the spectacular location, amazing competitors and racing with the best pros, the Ironman World Championships are broadcast on TV. This is how a lot of people first experience triathlon. Seeing people overcome amazing odds to complete this race has inspired a lot of people to get off the couch and try triathlon. If you’re interested in watching the coverage of the event, tune in to NBC November 16 at 4:30pm.
I spent a good part of the day Saturday watching the live stream of the race on www.ironman.com when I wasn’t out on my bike or walking the dog. I love being able to watch this event live and see the amazing talent of the pros. Watching Mirinda Carfrae win her second Ironman world title with an amazing run was super impressive. What I find truly inspirational though is watching the age group athletes finish the race. It is truly magical to watch a 79 year old finish the race just before the cut off time. These athletes have jobs, families and lives that they need to balance around their triathlon training. As someone on Twitter said, “You admire the pros for the talent but the AG’ers get to you for their heart/determination .”
Some highlights from Saturday
- Frederik Van Lierde became the second Belgian to win Hawaii when he passed the Australian in the marathon and finished in 8:12:29.
- The Australian triathlon star Mirinda Carfrae stormed to her second Hawaiian Ironman world title on Sunday with a record performance. She set a course record of 8:52:14.
- Craig Alexander, one of my favourites, has raced through the famous lava fields for the final time and is thinking of becoming a coach, according to reports.
- Hines Ward, the two-time Super Bowl winner finished 13:8:15. Checkout some cool videos outlining his training HERE.
- Chef Gordon Ramsay on Saturday finished the Hawaii Ironman, in a time of 14:04:48.
- NBC will air the GoPro IRONMAN World Championship special program on Saturday, November 16 at 4:30 p.m.