The IRONMAN World Championship centers on the dedication and courage exhibited by participants who demonstrate the IRONMAN mantra that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.® On October 12th, over 2,000 athletes will embark on a 140.6-mile journey that presents the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit to earn the title of IRONMAN.
Those reasons often transition into causes and those causes are often taken on by a group of people working to help the same cause and obviously most of those causes involve medical conditions, awareness and advocacy.
Clearly many things motivate people to exercise, train and perhaps ultimately compete. We all know of someone inspired by unfortunate circumstances that might have impacted their life or of those they care about. The reasons are countless and often tear jerking and deeply personal.
This past week, 303radio sat down with Dr. James DeGregori PhD and Brett Kessler, DDS to talk about the community of like minded people they train with–Team and Training.
Team in Training is the largest charity endurance training program in the world. They have over 650,000 athletes that have raised over $1 billion to fight cancer, Leukemia and Lymphoma more specifically. Like many teams the connections and friends that are made ultimately make cause the greatest memories.
In this interview James and Brett talk about those connections, their own personal reasons and why’s, but more, they both know Leukemia and Lymphoma first hand as medical professionals that work directly with those effected and by doing research to help find a cure.
Not only will you learn how Team in Training helped them compete in century rides, marathons and even the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, but you will learn a little about the disease from people on the front lines and extremely driven advocates that will likely offer you some inspiration into your own why.
Brett Kessler was helping blood cancer patients long before it became personal. He did an oncology fellowship after dental school where his focus was on treating patients affected by blood cancer. Then, he moved to Colorado in 1999 and joined The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society‘s (LLS) Team In Training to meet new people, train and raise money for blood cancer research. He then went on to be a triathlon coach for the program.
Brett shared, “I did not treat this population anymore and still wanted to support them. I was hooked.”
Brett’s mom was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) eight years later. She took imatinib (Gleevac®) through clinical trials which were funded by LLS. Sadly, Brett’s mom passed away in 2016.
He shared, “I felt like I directly contributed to her care from the work I did with LLS. The universe works in amazing ways as Gleevec was not even approved when I started with Team In Training.”
The fundraising Brett has done for the LLS mission through Team In Training is in memory of his mom but is giving hope to future patients through the efforts of local researchers.
The work of Dr. Dan Pollyea and his team of clinical researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine is funded by grants such as those from LLS. Three years ago, the team began a clinical trial program for the first therapy that could effectively eradicate leukemia stem cell populations. Dr. Pollyea shared that if you can really eradicate the leukemia stem cells, then you can potentially cure this disease. The results so far have been described as “unbelievable” because they can get 80-90% of people into complete remission with their approach.
The work of Dr. James DeGregori at the University of Colorado School of Medicine has also been funded by LLS. He is researching how the human body ages and its effects on how cancer cells find a way to take hold. He is looking at how can we mitigate those changes and interfere with cancer growth with clinical intervention. Dr. DeGregori’s team has done some work on mice to reduce cancer incidences but will they will be approaching their work with humans a bit differently when the time comes.
“As a practicing dentist in Denver, several of my patients have had various forms of blood cancers,” shared Brett. “Knowing that we have some of the best treatments available here in Denver due to the research of people like Dr. Pollyea and Dr. DeGregori makes me feel good that they have a chance to beat this awful disease. Twenty-five years ago, many of these diagnoses were a death sentence. Now they are manageable.”
The success of local researchers continues to inspire Brett. He earned a coveted spot in the 2018 IRONMAN® World Championship event in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, crossing the finish line this past October. He is still raising funds for this event and has raised $67,000 and counting in memory of his mom.
“This is an emotional journey for me,” shared Brett. “I am able to honor my mom by bringing awareness and raising money to help eradicate blood cancers. I am also able to honor the many people who are connected to the disease that I have met along the way.”
Team In Training is the world’s largest and most successful endurance sports fundraising and training program. Since its inception in 1988, Team In Training has raised more than $1.5 billion, trained more than 650,000 people and helped LLS invest more than $1.2 billion in blood cancer research.
Team In Training offers a lineup of innovative high caliber domestic and international events, and prepares teammates for marathons, half marathons, and triathlons, as well as cycling, climbing and hiking experiences, with experienced coaches, training resources, a supportive community and world-class fundraising tools.
CELEBRATE 40 YEARS OF DREAMS BY TUNING INTO 2018 IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BROUGHT TO YOU BY AMAZON BROADCAST SPECIAL AIRING ON NBC NOVEMBER 24 AT 4:30 P.M. EST
Annual NBC broadcast special returns to spotlight historic victories and the magic of Kona through the Champions and Inspirational Athletes who compete
Five-episode broadcast of “IRONMAN: Quest for Kona” to air on November 23 starting at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN following 10 athletes as they attempt to qualify for the 2018 IRONMAN World Championship brought to you by Amazon
TAMPA, Fla. (November 21, 2018) – The annual broadcast special of the IRONMAN® World Championship brought to you by Amazon will air this Saturday, November 24 at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC, chronicling the iconic triathlon that took place on October 13, 2018 in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i. Since 1978, the IRONMAN World Championship triathlon has showcased not only the limitless physical capability and competitive nature of the top endurance athletes in the world, but also some of the most awe-inspiring and impactful stories of courage and resilience from the age-group athletes and everyday individuals competing alongside them.
Producing this year’s 90-minute show is Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), a best-in-class television production company that is highly experienced in coverage of endurance sports events such as the Tour de France to audiences around the world. The broadcast includes more camera angles than ever before and aerial imagery that will put viewers into the heart of the race, showcasing the amazing beauty and grueling conditions that the island of Hawai`i is known for.
The broadcast special spans from the pre-race build-up beginning with body marking to the final hours of the nighttime finish, unveiling the intensity, emotion, physical demands and dramatic competition of the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run across the rugged Hawaiian terrain. With approximately 2,500 registered athletes, the 40th Anniversary year marked the largest field ever with athletes from a record breaking 82 countries, regions and territories, proving that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE®.
Among the features of this year’s IRONMAN World Championship special:
Exclusive interviews from current and former World Champions and other professional IRONMAN® athletes during a record setting day.
Defending women’s IRONMAN World Champion Daniela Ryf of Switzerland looks to make history and join an elite group by claiming a fourth consecutive victory as 2017’s second-place finisher Lucy Charles of Great Britain looks to top the podium. Germany’s Anne Haug looks to make a name for herself at this years event.
With a perfect display of form and strength, course record holder and last year’s champion Patrick Lange of Germany battles the likes of Belgium’s Bart Aernouts, Great Britain’s David McNamee and American Tim O’Donnell.
Mother of five, lawyer, entrepreneur and cancer survivor, Rachel Brenke takes on the ultimate test while redefining what it means to be a modern-day superwoman.
Leigh Chivers, who has suffered great personal tragedy following the loss of his wife and young son, looks to honor them while competing at the IRONMAN World Championship
Brothers Brent and Kyle Pease motivated by the Hoyts are the epitome of ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Born with cerebral palsy, Kyle turned to his brother Brent to help him complete his dream of becoming an athlete. At the 2018 IRONMAN World Championship brought to you by Amazon, they attempt to become only the second special team in history to complete the course.
The 303 team kept busy all last week in Kona bringing you news and stories, here are few highlights.
People wonder why we send such a group to this race and the answer is not simple, but yet it is. Kona showcases the greatest triumphs. It celebrates athletes from around the world with 2,400 stories from over 50 countries. Colorado is everywhere. From third most represented state of athletes to having many companies and industry and media professionals present. At the USAT partner party, half of the people there were from Colorado. Colorado has a big impact on Kona.
1. Colorado rocks with 38 amateur athletes competing and five of them ending up on the podium:
– Nicholas Noon 2nd
– Kelly Phuah 3rd
– Diana Hassel 3rd
– Matthew Malone 4th, this was also a 45th place finish Overall
– Simon Butterworth 4th
2. Four Colorado based pro’s ended up in the top 10:
– Tim O’Donnell 4th
– Mirinda Carfrae 5th
– Kaisa Sali 7th
– Andy Potts 8th
3. Records were broken
– Fastest Male race: 7:52, Patrick Lange, first time finish was under 8 hours.
– Fastest Female race: 8:26, Daniela Ryf, broke her own record by 20 minutes!
– Fastest Male swim ever: 46:30 (amateur set the record)
– Fastest Female swim ever: 48:14 (Pro Lucy Charles, 4 min faster than the next pro)
– Fastest Female Bike Split, (Pro Daniela Ryf, 4:26, 18 min faster than previous)
– Oldest finisher, 86 year old Inada Hiromu of Japan
4. Presumably, the most weight loss finisher with Marcus Cook losing about 250 pounds and carrying a life size cut-out of himself at his most weight through the finish line that brought a massive roar from the crowd.
5. More people seem interested in what Khem was eating than almost anything else based on our Facebook post of her “guess what I am eating contest”.
6. Colorado has great industry representation: BASE Performance, Newton, BOCO Gear, Triathlete Magazine, Rudy Project, Ceramic Speed, Stryd, Scratch, Stages, and TrainingPeaks.
7. Simon Butterworth and Bob Babbitt do look like Elvis
8. The Pros have fun too: Patrick Lange proposed to his girlfriend right after he crossed the finish line saying it “was the best part of day”, after winning and breaking a record. Sarah True said, “I felt like I was just riding bikes with friends,” after finishing her first Kona.
9. Bill Plock Sleepwalks and tries to get out of a condo in the middle of the night.
10. The 303 team went through six bags of gummy bears, 2 tanks of gas, shot over 500 pics, conducted 8 live podcast interviews, swam to the coffee boat a few times, was up at 4am and back home at 1am covering the race from beginning to end.
We had a great week, a triumph, a day and race for the ages. Simply put, it was marvelous.
Madame Pele blessed us with perhaps the best weather in our championship history; our athletes took advantage of her gift. Records were smashed in all aspects of the race and we saw the oldest finisher in our history – Hiromu Inada from Japan, 86 years old.
After celebrating 40 Years of Dreams, Saturday’s race was seen by more people than any edition in history, and in more places. That’s not easy when you’re broadcasting from an island, in new formats. Our partnerships with Facebook Watch, NBC Sports, ASO and BCC redefined broadcast excellence in our sport and gave us an unrivaled platform for our brand.
“This year we grew our live online viewership from 1.2 Million views in 2017, to 20 Million views in 2018 on Facebook Watch. That’s 16x!”
American Tim O’Donnell raced his way to a fourth-place finish at the 2018 Ironman World Championship, crossing the line in 8:03:17. O’Donnell talks about the drastic changes he’s made in his training, the head-to-head battle with Braden Currie, and managing the balance of parenthood with elite-level racing.
It’s generally understood that Kona, i.e. the Ironman World Championship, is different from all the other Ironman races. Often people associate this difference with both the fact that you have to qualify to earn your spot at the start line (or earn it through one of seven other ways), and that therefore the athlete field at the race represents the cream of the crop. And while all of this is certainly true, it’s just scratching the surface of why this race stands out so dramatically from just about any other race you’ve attended.
First off, because this is like the Superbowl / World Series / Stanley Cup of triathlon, the crowds are insane. And Kona is a really, really small little town normally. Just as a comparison, based on some back-of-the-napkin calculations, here’s how Kona compares to, say, IM Boulder:
So, as you can start to see, Kona is busting at the seams – and then some – during race week. Not to mention the fact that people start arriving 7 or even 10 days before the race, rather than the Thursday of race week. Because of that, you need to set up lodging and rental cars as early as possible. And you need to anticipate that everything is going to be busy – parking lots, restaurants, local street traffic – everything.
One thing that’s really neat about the crowds, though, is how international it all is. (I mean, it is the World Championship, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.) Athlete briefings are given in seven different languages – English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and German. And everywhere you go you hear different languages and accents. It really, truly deserves the title of a world championship event.
Beyond the crowds, there are other things that separate Kona from all other events. Every year, triathlon royalty descends on Kona to celebrate the spirit of Ironman. Legends Dave Scott, Mark Allen, and Paula Newby-Fraser and Hall of Famers Mike Reilly and Bob Babbitt are in attendance virtually every year. Plus you have roughly 100 current pro triathletes in town to compete in the race. All of them are out and about, hosting and participating in events at local restaurants, through Ironman, at vendor booths, and at the Expo. The celebrity selfie opportunities are endless!
Speaking of the Expo, this one is like no other. You’ve got the official Expo, about a quarter-mile from the pier which houses the transition area. Nearer to the pier, you’ve got the main merchandise tent and the mini-merch tent. But then, for a solid half-mile down Ali’i Drive (the beachside road that is famous for the race’s finisher’s chute), you’ve got the “unofficial” Expo: dozens and dozens of tents from every triathlon apparent, equipment, and nutrition vendor you can think of. Some go so far as to create pop-up stores right there on Ali’i drive, and many offer limited edition Kona apparel and swag specially designed to commemorate the race. Which is all to say: if you head to Kona, bring a wad of cash and an extra duffel to accommodate all the shopping you’ll inevitably do during your trip.
Finally, as if you weren’t busy enough chasing down triathlon royalty for that coveted Instagram shot and snagging as much Kona swag as you can without tipping over into overweight baggage surcharges, you’ve also got to make time for the non-stop event schedule. There are daily swims from the Pier, so popular that they require a pop-up bag check tent for several hours each morning and include a stop at the famous coffee boat, about a half-mile off-shore from the pier. There are big-ticket events like the VIP Aloha Reception and the Evening of Champions, the ever-popular Thursday morning Underpants Run, pro meet and greet’s at sponsor tents, Bob Babbitt’s daily “Breakfast with Bob” interviews, and so so so much more.
I think this is why so many make the trip to Kona as spectators, rather than as (or in different years than as) competitors. Race week in Kona is all about soaking in the best of everything the sport has to offer and hoping to pick up just enough good juju from Madame Pele as to get to come back again another year.
With so many up and coming bike manufacturers in the triathlon market, athletes are starting to venture away from the bigger names. At this year’s IRONMAN World Championship, the numbers show the shift has begun.
Cervélo Reigns Again at Kona Bike Count but Gap Closes
A group of 30 industry experts came together on Friday to tally the makeup of all 2,500 bikes to check-in on the Kona Pier ahead of the Ironman World Championship.
The count has served for years as a global bellwether of buying patterns among athletes in the endurance triathlon space.
Toronto-based Cervélo again took top honors in the bike category, but the decade-long leader had 74 fewer bikes on the pier this year than last. The big movers chipping away at Cervelo’s lead were Canyon (28 more bikes than last year), QR (13 more), Dimond (12 more), and Scott (10 more).
Zipp again won the wheel category, but with 287 fewer wheels than last year.
The 303Triathlon team attending this morning’s pre-race press briefing. Here are some snippets from the introduction by IRONMAN CEO Andrew Messick and the pro panel that followed.
Highlights from Andrew Messick’s “State of IRONMAN”:
The next location for the 70.3 World Championship race was announced! Taupo, New Zealand in November of 2020.
2018 is shaping up to be IRONMAN’s best year ever, with 225,000 unique athletes participating events around the globe – up 10% from 2017.
IRONMAN’s 2018 partnership with Facebook has allowed them to create a bigger, broader broadcast platform with live coverage of many races, including 20 hours of live coverage, from 4 am to 1 am, for Saturday’s world championship race.
2019 will feature 41 full-distance IRONMAN races and 117 70.3s, with new races in Oman, Greece, Russia, and India.
Highlights from the pros:
Javier Gomez is excited to get out of his comfort zone in his first go at Kona. As for his expectations for Sunday, he said: “the race will put me in my place.”
Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell both mentioned their daughter Izzy, born just over a year ago, when discussing this year’s race. Rinny has been “pleasantly surprised” with how her season has gone after coming back after giving birth and she’s excited to see how she measures up against the new talent in the sport. Tim acknowledged that he was mentally and emotionally drained at last year’s race, which was only a few weeks after Izzy’s birth; as for this year, he said he’s not phased by pressure to be the next American to win Kona: “it’s not the result, it’s the process.”
Sebastian Kienle, who won in 2014, said he’s motivated more by his disappointing finish last year: “there is nothing more dangerous to success in the future than success in the past.”
The panel concluded with a few questions from the audience. Noah Aldrich (12) asked the first question. Noah has completed 17 triathlons in tandem with his brother, Lucas (10), who suffers from a rare neurological condition called lissencephaly, and asked the pros what advice they would give to a young triathlete who hopes to one day be a pro. Patrick Lange advised him to have “fun, fun, fun” with the sport, and said to Noah, “it’s not that we’re inspiring you, you’re inspiring us.”
More than anything, I was struck by the friendship and camaraderie evident among the pros as they entered and concluded the panel. While they are clearly fierce competitors on the course, there is obvious respect and fellowship between them as well.