Okay, here’s an idea for a way to spend a pleasant vacation day on the Big Island of Hawaii. You get up bright and early and take a swim in the ocean – say, two and a half miles. When you get out of the water, jump on a bike and pedal for a hundred miles or so. Then leave your bike and run as fast as you can over 25 miles of volcanic terrain.
Sound ridiculous? Well, believe it or not, 1,700 hardy souls will be doing just that on October 11th, and they had to scramble for the opportunity either through a lottery or by winning a spot at one of the qualifying events held around the world.
It’s the Ironman World Championship, held in and from Kona each year at this time. For triathletes, there is no bigger day in the sport than the Ford Ironman World Championship. It is the race that brought the sport of age, and it continues to be the defining race for any avid triathlete.
While there are thousands of triathlons around the world, this is the one that defines the sport. It all began at an Awards Ceremony for a relay running race in Honolulu in 1977. A group of local athletes discussed the idea of an endurance triathlon – consisting of three major events that already existed on Oahu. It was suggested that the sports be combined to create a single-day event and that whoever finishes first should be called the Ironman.” The Ironman has since become triathlon’s Super Bowl, Wimbledon, World Series, World Cup, and Tour de France all rolled into one. What makes this event so unique is that “average” people get to compete alongside the best in the world.
Just finishing an Ironman race is often the highlight of many triathletes’ careers. Athletes with disabilities now compete in the event in the physically challenged category, and they are required to meet the same cutoff times as able-bodied competitors.
5,000 volunteers help to put the event together, and the path to the finish is lined with more that 10,000 spectators. It’s a magnificent spectacle for visitors, participants and even Big-Island residents. If you’re going to be in Hawaii during mid-October and would like to be in on the excitement, pick an agent from our Web site home page (hawaii-aloha.com), or call 1-800-843-8117.