2017 IRONMAN World Championships Kona – Bill Plock’s Tri Hearter Recap

BEN HOFFMAN

By Bill Plock

I’m struggling to know what to share with you. There is so much. So much. Joy. Triumph. Sadness. Perseverance. Grit. Guts. Tenacity. The list is super long!

The results of the Ironman World Championships are not measured by a clock, or a place on a podium or by a Garmin. They are measured by smiles, tears and hugs. By racing and watching this race, we make huge deposits in the experience bank of our souls that serve us later in life.

Colorado’s Vicki Derrick and Jamie Twedt

It’s hard to share an epic event like this without using a cliche. I need to remember that to “narrow your focus broadens your appeal” and as one of the eyes and ears of 303triathlon, my “job” is to share with you and try to find relativity in this ocean of stories. Imagine you are on the pier and 2,400 boats appear on the horizon intending to land. Each one from a different place, maybe a different continent, maybe even from a country you didn’t know existed. Each boat carries stories and dreams and some are captained alone but most come with a crew. But they all have one goal. To finish.

Being in Kona for race week is like being on a captive island of history and tradition drawing these boats in like a compass faces north. The triathlon world focuses here for the week. Even if the Ironman distance is not your race of choice, the challenge of the sport clearly radiates here. Experts and those in the industry greet all of these boats, and in our case meeting legends like Bob Babbitt and Mike Reilly to share the history and meaning of this race just make the landing that much richer.

D3 Multisport’s Simon Butterworth, on his way to winning his age group

I encourage you to listen to those interviews to gain a true perspective on what happens here and what HAS happened here. What I have learned, and continue to learn each time I am here, is that to know the history, and to respect the race is essential to understand its epic nature.

With the focus on Colorado and our saturation of this race with 54 athletes toeing the line we have a lot share—and a lot to be thankful for. It feels like family. With all those boats landing and people scurrying everywhere, to latch on to a familiar smile, to know just a few stories is like finding a life preserver in rough unknown waters.

303 Ambassador Todd Plymale-Mallory encourages Andy Potts

We at 303 see ourselves as a bridge to you. A place where you can see what happens when your friends and loved ones landed here with 2,346 other athletes. Yes some came here to win it all, and our local pro, Andy Potts, was the first American across the line. We in Colorado have a lot to be proud of.

The other 53 athletes persevered. We tried to share moments of each of their journeys and for any we may have missed, it wasn’t for lack of trying. And you made Colorado proud and it was such an honor to share your journey with our readers and subscribers a few thousand miles away. Even with technology of instant connectivity, it’s the intangible flow of like-minded energy and a love of this sport and a love of every journey we encountered, that hopefully rushed at the speed of light into your hearts. We hope you felt what we did, and sharing that and feeling such a wonderful community in Colorado at the “Super Bowl” of triathlon is what makes being at this race epic.

Be proud 303 Nation. We have the most amazing triathlon community in the world.

303Radio talks with TrainingPeaks Dirk Friel on Colorado Representation at Swim Start

TrainingPeaks co-founder and Chief Evangelist Dirk Friel talks about the Ironman World Championship swim start and Colorado representation.

Chrissie Wellington at IMKona 2017

303Triathlon caught up with 4-time Kona Champion and recent Ironman Hall of Fame Inductee, Chrissie Wellington to talk about them passionate nature of Colorado athletes, academics and environmentalists! She touches on her new passion for ultra running and the legacy she hopes to leave.

 

303Radio: Colorado’s Smokin’ Fast Tim Hola

303Radio caught up with smoking fast Tim Hola at the King Kamehameha Kona Beach hotel. Humble as always, but with 15 years of experience racing here, we know he is going to crush it on Saturday at the Ironman World Championship. Good luck Tim! Make Colorado proud!!

303Tri asks, Are U.S. Triathletes “too cool for school” when it comes to Kona Parade of Nations?

By Khem Suthiwan

What’s Up With American Triathletes?

For anyone who has raced, volunteered, or spectated at the IRONMAN World Championship, you know that being there is quite the experience. From the Kona Underpants Run and Dig Me swim out to the coffee boat, there are a handful of Kona traditions.

One of the long-standing traditions is the Parade of Nations.

Much like the one from the Olympics, athletes from all over the world band together in solidarity representing their countries. Some show organized efforts with clever t-shirts and themed costumes. Year after year, the countries with large and proud turnouts include Great Britain, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand.

So the question is, why did the United States with 751 athletes (largest of all countries) only had 40 show up to the Parade of Nations this year? Did 711 athletes think it was “too cool for school” to be part of this iconic Kona tradition?

What do you think?

Pro Tim Don hit by car, out of Kona – Video reassures fans and followers

The masses of triathletes collected in Kona for IRONMAN World Championships collectively grieved yesterday as word of Tim Don‘s bike crash spread like wildfire… From the Slowtwitch Party to the annual Training Peaks gathering, there were many speculations that Tim’s back was broken… that he was unconscious… that, no matter what the severity, he was out of the race.

Leave it to “The Don” to hit the social airwaves in a timely fashion, complete with his dry humor, posting an Instagram video for fans and followers. Suffice it to say, to see the predicted top-ten contender sitting up and talking, cracking jokes, was reassuring. A Great Britain native who lives and trains in Boulder, the Colorado community especially was  eager for news. In the video Don jokes that he was simply working on his new “aero look” with his neck brace, seeking to gain an advantage over Jan (Frodeno), Sebby (Kienle) and Patrick (Lange)…

VIEW TIM’S VIDEO

303Radio Interviews Bob Babbitt: The Heart of Ironman

The “Heart of Ironman,” Bob Babbitt talks about Ironman racing from its inception – day one when he ate hamburgers and fries and prepared for it to be a 2 day event–he didn’t know it was supposed to be a one day event. He paid $25 to race on his bike with a raccoon skin seat cover and Hawaiian sweet bread stuffed in his pocket. He shared some great stories in a way only Bob can do. Have a listen and see how this history fueled his passion that later paved the way to his greatest passion, that of heading the Challenged Athlete Foundation. You will feel inspired listening to this. He has lived it, and loved it, and given his heart to this sport.

Women in Triathlon: WITSUP Brunch with Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae and Rachel “Joycey” Joyce

By Dana Willett

This morning Jen Findley and I were honored to attend a very special WITSUP Brunch in a foothills mansion high above the cacophony of the Kona Race Week activities at sea level.

An annual event celebrating women in triathlon, the sold out Witsup Kona Brunch featured triathlon legends Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae and Rachel “Joycey” Joyce, moderated by WITSUP “Chief,” Stef “Steffie” Hansen (who is quick to note, one may only address her by this moniker if you are an IRONMAN World Champion). This is the “fourth or fifth” year of the event (and one we will not miss in the future).

Sponsors Cervelo and Ceramic Speed were well represented with signage and prize drawing giveaways.

Our plates piled high with delicacies prepared by Stef’s “chef” husband Brett, we settled in to luxurious chairs as she opened the casual Q&A session by introducing “Two of the most wanted athletes in the world,” Rinny and Rachel.

Stef introduced Rachel, pointing out that the Boulder-based pro completed three IRONMAN races in just ten weeks (including winning IRONMAN Boulder!) after giving birth to her first child, Archie, just 13 months ago.

Rinny was next, asked about what it was like to be in Kona and not be racing: “Izzy is taking most of the focus – it’s very different being here without the anxiety of racing, and just supporting Tim (O’Donnell).”

It was then Rinny’s turn to ask Stef a question… In her trademark feisty and spirited way, Rinny asked Stef point blank if she plans to have kids. Once the room settled down after some barbs and an eruption of laughter, Stef admitted she’d “never been embarrassed on stage.”  She then turned serious: “I find the subject fascinating because it’s a dilemma for athletes – age groupers or pros – pregnancy affects sponsor relationships, requires a break from training and racing; it’s one of the biggest challenges in being a pro triathlete, and any working professional. It concerns me – what would happen with WITSUP? I’m not ready to compromise that. Not now. Eventually. But not until it can be my number one priority.”

There were many murmurs of agreement from the attentive audience, most of whom were women, some Kona athletes and some not, and a good smattering of supportive men.

“Moving on,” Stef commanded, slyly changing the subject. She asked Rinny what it has been like “getting back in shape after having a kid.”

Rinny responded that so far she’s had just two runs and two swims – and, she “pulled out sore” after 20 minutes on the run. “It’s gonna be tough,” she said, succinctly.

Rachel responded to the same question, saying, “It taught me patience. I remember my first swim – I was completely exhausted after just 1500 meters – it was so different from being so in shape before. I had to switch my mindset to looking forward, instead of back. I couldn’t rush it. I had to focus on,  ‘I’m better than I was last week.’

She continued, “It was hard work, especially the core strength. When I stood at the start line of my first race back I thought, ‘Wow, six months ago I was only walking around the block. You have to take baby steps. Don’t rush it.”

Stef then asked, “It’s similar to injury, then, taking it day by day, right?”

Rachel responded, saying it is similar to injury in that you need to look forward at your progress, and not wishing you were back to where you were before. Then she added, “You have all that, plus breastfeeding. Your body’s main function is to support another human. And the physical changes, like wondering, ‘when will my stomach stop jiggling?’ I felt like my legs weren’t attached to my top half – there was no ‘pop.’  It’s a foreign feeling. My body felt disconnected getting back into training. You have to be patient.”

Rinny was then asked if the past 6-7 weeks since Izzy was born have been similar to the rest she usually takes after Kona. Rinny replied dryly, “Well, this has been 6 or 7 weeks of doing nothing, and also I had a human come out of me.” The room erupted.

She continued, “My core is lost after having to make way for all the expansion. But I’m sitting here listening and trying to take lessons from what Rachel said. I’ll look ahead. Next year I want to be back here and be a contender.”

Stef paused dramatically, and commented, “The best contraception is talking with you two.”

The discussion then turned to race day strategies. Stef asked, “How do you switch off your usual ‘nice’ personalities  to “terminator” mode on race day?”
Rinny responded, saying, “When I started (as a pro) I struggled with my friendships with competitors, how to manage that. But I learned that when gun goes off it’s a war… you must be no one’s friend.”

Stef and Rachel joined in with some barbs, Stef saying, “The smack talk is starting now.” Rinny responded, “This year it’s ok because I’m just watching … but next year – looking at Rachel -all bets are off.”

Rachel commented, “You have to think of it that they’re just people I want to be ahead of – I’m very single-minded. It doesn’t matter whether you’re friends or not.”

Nodding agreement, Rinny added, “At that point in the race (during the run) we’re all suffering, so you feel bad. You want to say “sorry- but I’m going on ahead of you.”

The conversation went on to cover advice for the strong Queen K cross-winds (“Trust your bike – it was designed for the wind – try to relax into it”), descending from Hawi (Rinny: “Put it in the biggest ring and go for it!”), and Race Week nerves (Rinny: “I want that – it shows the race matters to you;” Rachel: “If I didn’t feel nervous I’d wonder what was wrong”).

And then the Hot Topic: For pro women after having a baby, they have to do so many races in order to get points for Kona… there is no current carry over or accommodation for maternity leave…

Rachel noted, “We want to have the best women and men racing in Kona. We need to work back from that. Despite fitness before giving birth, it just takes a long time (to get back in shape). We need to look at other sports and consider how to take maternity leave. It’s very complex – we need a statistician to sort rankings, and look at the possibility of carrying over points from the prior year.”

Rachel continues, “There isn’t an easy answer. Women need to not rush back and risk injury – we need to accommodate that.”

Agreeing, Rinny added, “We want the best athletes in their best form – whether it’s a point system or whatever. There are lots of different ideas, and we need to look seriously at the rules.”

Stef concluded the topic saying, “We need a better solution – there’s not a perfect solution, but there is a better way.”

After some talk about finding your “zone” on the Kona run (Rachel says, “The blanker and freer you can keep your mind the better… think about rhythm, nutrition, form”) and a possible 2-day race formula for Kona, like 70.3 worlds in Chattanooga (both women were in favor of it “to showcase the women’s race properly”), the discussion turned more philosophical.

 

If not triathlon, then what career would you want to pursue?
Rinny explained she studied physiology and kinesiology in college, and she would likely pursue those fields. Rachel, a former lawyer said, “I definitely like the law, but I’m not sure I’d go back to a law firm.”

And, finally, the most memorable moment over time on the Big Island?

“Winning in 2013 ,” Rinny answered without hesitation. “I had won in 2010 and then I had a couple of not-great years. Winning in 2013 validated that it wasn’t a fluke – the day flew by went perfectly. And it was also pretty special because Tim came in 5th. It was the most memorable.”
(Stef pointed out that they were engaged, noting the famous photo of Rinny jumping into Tim’s arms, laughing and saying “you needed the money for the wedding, right?”)

Rachel found her first time at Kona as the most memorable. “I didn’t yet identify as a pro triathlete – I felt out of depth.
I came 6th that year – I came in 4th off the bike, and I heard Greg Welch saying, ‘I think we’re going to see this one go backward…’ I thought, I’ll show you. It was so memorable. It was not my best race, but it ewas the start of a proper pro career.

Predictions for the pro field on Saturday? Rinny was quick to say, “I’ll answer that. I’d pick Rachel or Daniella for one and two, and then Heather (Jackson) or my dark horse pick – Lucy Charles. She’s my dark horse.”

 

Be sure to check out the WITSUP website for all the “Wahine Warrior” videos of Kona pro women!

303Radio Presents: The Voice of Ironman, Mike Reilly: “Dreams really do come true”

The voice of IRONMAN, Mike Reilly joined 303Radio and shared many stories about why he loves IRONMAN so much. Learn about his respect for the brand, and the athletes. Learn his thoughts on the Colorado culture, living in the moment, and what he his thinking when he sees athletes finishing. Understand his genuine spirit and why you “feel” him when he says, “You are an Ironman” – he really means it! He says there are two keys to success: 1) When “ego is not involved with what they are doing,” and, 2) “How the greatest thing we as people can do is make someone happy.” So much wisdom from Mike on life!

IRONMAN Boulder champion Timothy O’Donnell talks with 303Radio: Fatherhood, Kona Strategy

Brought to you by Training Peaks:

Hear 2017 Ironman Boulder champion Timothy O’Donnell tell 303radio hosts Bill Plock and Rich Soares talk about being a father and preparing to race and how his 2017 season played out. Timothy shares how his Santa Cruz 70.3 race went and just life as a pro triathlete, being married to Mirinda Carfrae the motivation that comes from a family and some ideas on how he is gonna attack Kona in 2017 with the help of Mark Allen and Greg Bennett both of Boulder and using the Halo NeuroSport. Road to Kona through Boulder!