He’s made 13 at­tempts to qual­ify for Kona, but the clos­est Brunty’s come to Hawaii is putting pineap­ple on his post-race pizza

220 Triathlon Magazine - - RACE CALENDAR -

Brav­ery comes in many forms. It could be the first time you wade out among the weeds for your de­but open-wa­ter swim. It could even be – to bring back a hu­mil­i­at­ing mem­ory – the first time you wear a Ly­cra skin­suit in front of your fam­ily.

There’s an­other kind of triathlon brav­ery, though, which is per­formed each month by the long-suf­fer­ing ed­i­to­rial team of 220, be­cause not only do they give an en­tire page over to me, they let me write what­ever I like! This month, how­ever, for the first time in al­most 10 years, I’ve been given a spe­cific topic to cover. It’s a topic I know noth­ing about be­cause it is… Kona. And, in 13 Iron­mans, the clos­est I’ve got to Hawaii is heap­ing pineap­ple on my post-race pizza.

Fin­ish­ing my first Iron­man in Canada back in 2006, I re­call hov­er­ing around the re­sults tent wait­ing to see the Kona qual­i­fy­ing times and, when that prospect evap­o­rated, in­tently watch­ing the roll-down of places to the next fastest qual­i­fiers – al­though, con­sid­er­ing I’d taken al­most 12hrs to fin­ish, it would have had to roll­down fur­ther than Lau­rel and Hardy’s pi­ano to reach me.

The fol­low­ing year, with dreams of the land of Mag­num PI burn­ing in my heart, I trained like a de­mon for Iron­man Lake Placid. Sadly, I missed out again thanks to fin­ish­ing even slower than I did at Canada. What fol­lowed over the years was a fa­mil­iar pat­tern of miss­ing out on the op­por­tu­nity to un­leash my lily­white legs on the Queen K High­way, fall­ing ag­o­nis­ingly short of qual­i­fy­ing by an hour or so. As such I be­gan to dream up strate­gies for mak­ing it onto triathlon’s sec­ond most dreaded vol­canic is­land:


A pop­u­lar strat­egy among con­firmed mid-pack fin­ish­ers like my­self, who look wist­fully at the 7075 age-group and re­alise our fin­ish­ing times would see us just about creep in to the top three. Yet, con­sid­er­ing my diet reg­u­larly con­sists of blocks of cheese so big you could use them as a weapon, mak­ing it to 70 in a con­di­tion to fin­ish a jig­saw, never mind an Iron­man, might be a big ask.


Ev­ery so of­ten a new Iron­man venue emerges, and its first event rep­re­sents a chance of nab­bing a Kona slot be­cause it’s less likely to at­tract the usual speedy sus­pects. The draw­back is that get­ting trounced by first-timer lo­cals can knock your con­fi­dence. As the old say­ing goes, ‘The bet­ter you get, the fur­ther you’ll travel to get beaten.’


Each year the Kona race or­gan­is­ers hold a bal­lot so, for a con­sid­er­able sum, you could win a place with­out all the ag­gro of qual­i­fy­ing. The draw­back to this ap­proach is try­ing not to die of shame while ap­pear­ing along­side a bunch of peo­ple who have all qual­i­fied through supreme ath­letic ef­fort.


The long-game ap­proach, but it worked for Gor­don Ram­say, who took to the start line at Kona thanks to an in­vi­ta­tion from the or­gan­is­ers. Frankly, be­com­ing fa­mous at any­thing would prob­a­bly guar­an­tee a celebrity ap­pear­ance, and you might ar­gue that my fame has al­ready reached such heights, but I’m mostly fa­mous for be­ing a crap triath­lete so it doesn’t re­ally work for me.


This is the last re­sort be­cause I’ve tried it, and it’s re­ally tir­ing. A few years ago I went all-guns-blaz­ing for a slot at Iron­man Aus­tria and, thanks to a her­culean ef­fort, re­duced the time by which I failed by just 30mins. Given the amount of ef­fort re­quired to lop an­other half hour off, I de­cided that per­haps Kona wasn’t to be, and promptly signed up for the vol­canic tor­ment that is Iron­man Lan­zarote.

Af­ter 13 Iron­man fin­ishes, I’m re­signed to the fact that I’ll never see the Queen K. In­stead, I’ve set­tled for the more sat­is­fy­ing Iron chal­lenge of beat­ing my club mates. I’m still keep­ing an eye on the 70-75 age group times, though…

“With dreams of the land of Mag­num PI in my heart, I trained like a de­mon”


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