Living the Kona Dream “Congrats! You’re going to Kona.”
I’ll never forget that email notification on March 17, 2015 and the rush of emotions that accompanied it. The ultimate joy and exhilaration of being able to live out a dream of racing at the event that inspired my interest in triathlon, along with the slight trepidation that I would toe the start line with the best Ironman triathletes in the world.
Onipa’a is a Hawaiian word that means “to remain steadfast, resilient and resolute.” It was the theme for the 2015 Ironman World Championship and, with it taking 17 years for me to get there, Onipa’a certainly described my journey to the Kona start line.
There were many ups and downs during those years. Great races, races plagued by bad luck, injuries or illness that either prevented me from starting or hampered any sort of quality performance, or simply day to day life that put constraints on the training necessary to put in a performance worthy of Kona qualification.
At several points during those years, I did not think that I’d ever get to Kona, but fortunately there are a number of ways to punch your ticket there. Of course you can do it the way we’d all like: be fast and scoop up one of the age group spots. But, thanks to Ironman CEO Andrew Messick, the creation of the Legacy program (open to athletes that have completed a minimum of 12 full-distance Ironman races who haven’t started at the Ironman World Championship) opened the doors to hundreds like me.
Many Legacy athletes feel guilty because we didn’t qualify the “regular” way, but in reality it is just another way to qualify, and it’s not necessarily any easier. You need to be talented and to put in a lot of work to get to Kona, but luck is involved too. Many Legacy athletes missed qualifying for Kona by one age group spot allocation (for example, placing second at a race where there was only one age group spot), encountered mechanical issues while leading their age group, or experienced major injuries while at the peak of their fitness. Ironman athletes all Continued on p.70
Ironman World Championship 2015, Kona