Nothing better represents the spirit of Ironman than the kids races - a mile and a quarter mile road races, and the Splash and Dash events which begin with a short swim in Kailua Bay and end with an out-and-back run on Ali'i Drive. Then Kona offers its modest version of an Olympic Opening Ceremony with the International Parade of Nations which includes large delegations like Australia, the U.S. and Germany as well as smaller ones like Croatia, Romania, Israel and Taiwan. As the parade ends, the crowds spill into the expo filled with great tech, legends available for meeting, greeting and signing autographs, and spectacular exhibits of the latest gear.
Italians! Italians! Passion! Excitement!
Six-time Ironman Champion Dave Scott led the kids in the 1-mile run in some pre-race stretching.
The start of the mile run.
Racing to the water - the start of the Splash and Dash.
A duel to the finish.
Elegant form in a sprint to the finish.
Ironman Hall of Famers Heather Fuhr, Mark Allen and Lori Bowden.
Six-time Ironman World champion Mark Allen chats with 2014 Ironman World Champion Sebastian Kienle before the parade.
The zaniest contingent in the Parade of Nations? Race Registration!
World Triathlon Corporation CEO Andrew Messick shows good form passing out candy to the crowd.
Argentina has the spirit.
The lone Croatian carries his flag with pride.
The French march under a massive tree on Ali'i Drive.
Sebastian Kienle waves the German flag.
Russia and Ukraine may have issues back home, but their athletes at Kona show solidarity and friendship.
Ironman star Shiao-Yu Li leads the Taiwan contingent.
One parade participant adopted a Mardi Gras look.
When the parade ended, everyone entered the expo. Dave Scott signs a poster.
Dad offers daughter a perch above the madding crowd in the expo.