Ironman World Championships – Kona

The 2011 Ironman World Championships will take place on the big island of Hawai’i for the 33rd year on Saturday. Long heralded as one of the ultimate athletic tests, the instructions handed out to the very first Ironman participants succinctly summed up the challenge:

“Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!”

After an open water swim from Kailua Pier, racers face an often scorching out-and-back ride up the Kona coast (including the famous lava fields of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway), before finishing with a marathon run that is routed back on the Queen K Highway, through the feared Energy Lab section, and back to town for the finish. Here’s the preview from the coverage of last year’s race, if you’ve never checked out the Kona Ironman in action:

We’ll be watching the pros riding bikes by our partners at Kestrel, including Andy Potts and the husband and wife duo of Michael Lovato and Amanda Lovato, plus Fuji sponsored rider Matty Reed (seen below training on the Queen K Highway), who is racing the Kona Ironman for the first time. You can check out a gallery of Reed’s Fuji D-6 race bike over at Triathlete. All season long the Fuji & Kestrel sponsored athletes have been engaged in a Tri Wars competition for brand bragging rights – Kestrel has the edge before the racing at Kona.

But the pros are only part of the story at the Ironman World Championships, as the vast majority of the field is made up of amateur age group competitors, from age 18 to over 80, there to challenge themselves and compete against an elite group of their peers. Athletes gain entry into the Ironman World Championship through worldwide qualifying events, or by being selected in the Ironman Lottery Program or even by winning a slot through the Ironman’s charitable eBay Auction. But no matter how they gained entry to the race, all athletes must finish by midnight in order to officially complete the Ironman, which has led to the tradition of raucous crowds (including some of the pros) cheering on the final Ironman finishers of the day.

2011 Kestrel 4000 Pro SL Shimano Ultegra Triathlon/Time Trial Bike

If you’re planning to give an Ironman a try next year, or maybe just start with a local triathlon, check out our selection of men’s and women’s triathlon clothing, compression wear for apres-ride recovery, plus our array of aero handlebarstime trial helmets and wheels to make your existing bike more aerodynamic. Or you can always pick up a sleek new Kestrel time trial bike or special order a Fuji D-6 or Aloha for delivery to one of our stores.

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