Kona…Race Thoughts and Behind the Scenes–Watch Here

By Bill Plock

It’s been a little over a week since Jan Frodeno set a world record time at the IRONMAN World Championships and Boulder’s Tim O’Donnell had the race of his life coming in second and breaking the eight hour mark–and no doubt, the lives of 52 other Colorado athletes will never be the same either.

If you watch this video what you will see and hopefully feel is what it’s like to be there and watch and what it’s like to see how the race unfolds, who makes it happen and what the finish line is like.

We start with a stroll down a dark Ali’i drive at 5am and a busy hotel filled with athletes and supporters. We take you out on the pier before the swim which most people can’t access. There we have a quick chat with Erin Trail, a Colorado athlete who is volunteering. We gather a few quick thoughts from World Champion Craig Alexander and take you out on the bike exit.

We offer you some commentary, talk with volunteers, the medical director (there are a 120 physicians at the race) and what it takes to make the race safe. We meet the head referee of the kayak crew, a group of Team in Training supporters and fast forward to some partying German spectators and watch locals Pete Young and Brett Kessler finish. Well, actually Pete moved to Florida earlier this year–but a Coloradan at heart!

Enjoy the clips a little raw but real!

Three Coloradans, top 10 in Men’s Race at IRONMAN World Championships

By Bill Plock

Kailua Kona–Tim O’Donnell (T.O), Ben Hoffman and Chris Leiferman finished second, fourth and tenth in Saturday’s IRONMAN World Championships respectively. T.O. became only the fourth person in history to break the 8 hour mark finishing in 7:59:40, 8 minutes behind champion, Jan Frodeno who set a course record of 7:51:13 for his third title in five years.

It would be hard to fathom a better second place under any circumstances. T.O. would’ve won on most any other day, but he faced a very hungry, two time world champion in Jan Frodeno. T.O. told 303’s Rich Soares at the finish line that he was very pleased to go sub 8 at the age of 39 and was pleasantly surprised his nagging foot injury didn’t hurt is marathon (stay tuned for entire interview and future podcast).

At the press conference following the event (which you can hear the entire, very entertaining press conference on 303 in the very near future) Jan eluded to not taking anything for granted and racing relaxed with a nothing to lose attitude. In 2017 he injured himself and walked a good bit of the marathon–but still finished. In 2018 Jan didn’t compete so he put everything he had into coming back in 2019.

But T.O. had his own motivation and some doubt. At the pre-race press conference T.O., who battled a couple of injuries all summer, admitted he wasn’t sure what to expect and hoped there might be a silver lining of freshness from not being able to train as much as usual. To have his best day as a pro, in the most competitive conditions, a bit unsure of his fitness, was an inspiring performance.

Ben Hoffman, with a blistering time of 8:02:52, smashed his second place time from 2014 by nearly 17 minutes on a course no more favorable than last year (perhaps more than 2014) when Patrick Lange set the course record, now broken. In fact the winds were stronger this year and there was even rain on the bike course—which Jan blamed newcomer, Britain’s, Alistair Brownlee for “ordering” as he seems to triumph in the rain quite often. The two time gold medalist, Brownlee finished 21st despite a flat and an overall time of 8:25:03.

In between Hoffman and Brownlee, Longmont’s Chris Leiferman finished tenth in his Kona debut finishing at 8:13:37.

It was a great day for Colorado with Andy Potts finishing 14th, Joe Gambles at 36th and Kennett Peterson started the bike but ran into some trouble and pulled out. Boulder Ironman winner, Matt Russell (who frequently is in Colorado) finished 17th.

For the women, “sometime” Coloradan Heather Jackson (8:54:44) finished fifth behind winner Anne Haug of Germany, 8:40:10.

Other Colorado pro’s, Lesley Smith finished in 22nd, Danielle Mack was 32nd and three time World Champion, Mirinda Carfrae pulled out on the bike course.

52 athletes from Colorado towed the line on Saturday and the state with the highest per capita athletes fared very well!

Iain Campbell

Colorado athletes heading to Kona!

Name: Iain Campbell

1. What are you most excited about in competing in Kona?

Excited to be at my third World Championships and ready to race (my first in 2015 I had a calf strain going in, my second in 2017 I had crashed my bike 8 weeks before coming down lefthand canyon and had the trifecter fracture of collar bone, radius and wrist – I was able to race but was not at my best !) This year ready and excited to race!

2. What is your favorite career IRONMAN memory so far?

Got to be IM Arizona in 2016, I was coming off a crash that fractured my skull and left me with a TBI but the build for this race was perfect and was my first time under 10 hours and a AG 1st place and slot for Kona 2017 

3. Is this your first time competing in Kona and if no how many other times have you done so?

No, two times previously.

4. If someone were watching that is new to the sport, what would you tell them is the coolest thing about being a triathlete and competing in this venue?

The venue is spectacular, it is hard but you are racing with the best athletes in the World and if it was easy it wouldn’t challenge us.

5. What do you think is the hardest thing about doing an IRONMAN?

For me pacing and nutrition and the variability that race day conditions bring.

Conrad Rodas

Colorado athletes heading to Kona!

Name: Conrad Rodas

1. What are you most excited about in competing in Kona?

Competing against the best in the world at the most iconic stage. It’s the culmination of all the training and sacrifices to just get to the starting line.

2. What is your favorite career IRONMAN memory so far?

Hearing my name being called at the slot allocation in Mar Del Plata last year was just amazing after so many ups and downs before and during the race.

3. Is this your first time competing in Kona and if no how many other times have you done so?

First time.

4. If someone were watching that is new to the sport, what would you tell them is the coolest thing about being a triathlete and competing in this venue?

This will be my first experience at Kona, I’ll be able to answer this on Sunday.

5. What do you think is the hardest thing about doing an IRONMAN?

Commitment. Anyone can complete an Ironman, as long as you are willing to put the time to train. It doesn’t require as much time as most people think either, it’s all about being consistent and crossing that finish line is very achievable.

Brian Andzejewicz

Colorado athletes heading to Kona!

Name: Brian Andzejewicz

1. What are you most excited about in competing in Kona?

Taking in the whole vibe and racing this legendary course against the world’s best triathletes.

2. What is your favorite career IRONMAN memory so far?

That’s a tough one. Each one is special for it’s own reason. Crossing my first IM finish line at IM Lake Tahoe in 2013 is something I’ll never forget. Going sub-10 at IM Cozumel in 2017 was when I thought I might actually have a shot at Kona. But my favorite memory is asking my wife after finishing IM Maryland last year what place I was at in my AG. She said 4th and I knew I pulled off the race of my life and qualifying. It still didn’t seem real when Mike Reilly called my name during rolldown and I got my coin and lei.

3. Is this your first time competing in Kona and if no how many other times have you done so?

First time!

4. If someone were watching that is new to the sport, what would you tell them is the coolest thing about being a triathlete and competing in this venue?

I think the coolest thing about being a triathlete is you really find out a lot about yourself – what you’re capable of accomplishing if you have the belief and desire. For me, it was far more than I thought when I started getting interested in the sport. I remember the moment I read about 140.6 miles and couldn’t conceive how someone could complete that event in one day. But it’s a pretty rad feeling to commit to something you don’t know if you’re capable of doing and succeeding. And then saying, “Wow, I just did that. What else am I capable of?”

As far as competing at this venue…This is the most coveted start line in endurance sports. I saw Mike Reilly speak at Colorado Multisport a couple of years ago and he said there’s something spiritual about the island and this race. Being my first time here, I’m just looking forward to soaking in the experience – taking a step back before getting in the water on Saturday and take in the moment, the crowd, the energy…and slapping as many hands-on Ali’i Drive as I possibly can as I finish.

5. What do you think is the hardest thing about doing an IRONMAN?

Believing you can finish one.

Sasa Jovic

Colorado athletes heading to Kona!

Name: Sasa Jovic

1. What are you most excited about in competing in Kona?

Well, it is Kona.  After over 10 years of watching it on TV, we’ll be there.  It freaks me out so much, my heart rate went up just typing this.

2. What is your favorite career IRONMAN memory so far?

It was in 2014 in Klagenfurt.  I had a really hard/painful run and Aundrea (she was in the race as well, we did them all together) met me on the out and back part and we kissed.  So people around went: Aaaah.  And the official came over to tell us (everyone speaks English in Europe) that we cannot use proscribed performance enhancement substances; he was just messing with us.  He laughed, we laughed, everyone around laughed.  But my pain went away (she also gave me 2 Advils), and I RAN the second lap, and did my first close-to-13-hours race (13:14:18).

3. Is this your first time competing in Kona and if no how many other times have you done so?

First, we are both Legacy participants.  That, most likely, means the last one.  That is why I am so freaked out.

4. If someone were watching that is new to the sport, what would you tell them is the coolest thing about being a triathlete and competing in this venue?

When I started triathlons, in 2008, I would not even dare to talk to people who were Ironman; I just stared at them in awe from respectful distance.  But I badly wanted to be one.  Then, I effed up my first one, and did a bunch since to smooth over that wrinkle.  Then came Kona.  The whole decade went by, but it feels like just a couple of years.  So: Everything is possible.  Si se puede, in Cozumel.  Even for absolutely non-A types like myself.  Also, I am about 10 pounds (plus) lighter than any of my friends of similar age.  As my friend’s wife said: “Triathlons are the most constructive, meaningful and rewarding mid-life crisis.”

5. What do you think is the hardest thing about doing an IRONMAN?

Having your head straight for that long (13, 14, 15 hours for me).  Reacting to some crisis (that will inevitably happen) on the go.  Remembering that smiling during the race is more important than some effing brick workout from weeks ago.