Finally, Kona

During the last couple of weeks, I have been trying to play out in my head what this new 2-day format of the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona was going to deal us. I say deal us because if anyone thinks they know what this week is really going to be like, they are lying to themselves. Part of me is excited and the other part is shaking my head at the thought of twice the amount of people in the same space that in my experience has always been a super crowded, high stressful, yet super exciting event in the first place. It’s been three long years since many of us have been to Kona and I don’t need to rehash what the last 3 years has been like. We all know about the struggle of the last three years.

Sometime last year we all got the news that Kona was going to be pushed off again and that St George was going to serve as the first ever IRONMAN World Championship outside of Kona. IRONMAN tried to do their best to lay out a very exciting plan that­­ we would be able to hold a World Championship for athletes that had qualified, and then the crown jewel of Ironman would return to its rightful steward in 2022. The triathlon world erupted with opinions on the decision as all of a sudden Kona was no longer home of the IRONMAN World Championship. It was an odd and stressful time for most people. Pros and age groupers alike needed to make the decision to go to St George or push to October. During this period, I remember hearing more and more about the magic of Kona being lost forever. Was Kona really going to happen in October? What if the race in St. George was better? Was IRONMAN trying to get out of Kona, or was Kona just trying to get out of IRONMAN? Insert every other conspiracy theory here.

Let me take a quick pause here and make some general statements.

I don’t want to get inside the heads of the decision makers of IRONMAN and the city, county and state that supports this race. I don’t think any of us should. Unless you were present at the meeting with all the cards on the table chances are we wouldn’t be right anyways.

But what I do want to get into is this is just some basic common sense that I learned in the Boy Scouts:leave it better than you found it.

If you, we, (us) want to keep the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, I believe it isn’t up to IRONMAN or Hawaii but more likely it is up to, well, all of us.

I was reminded about this while getting on a plane to come to Kona on Wednesday. I was thinking about this the entire flight. This isn’t that hard of an issue to solve and it’s something that I have learned over time as I have messed this up myself. Over and over in my head the answers seemed to keep coming and the basic things that we have all been told over and over again in our lives.

Be Kind

Follow the rules Slow down.
Every World Championship has themes and intiatives. We tend to see them cynically as marketing 101, right? But sometimes what we don’t do is ask ourselves what they truly are. What are they truly trying to tell us? The theme from IRONMAN this year is “Live Aloha,” which you can read here.

­­Have you read it?! Did you feel like you were in the corner getting a good talking to from your grandma? I did. It was like a nice slap on the hand, wasn’t it? Probably like a story from your past that started with, “junior / darling, back in my day, this is what we did.”

I’m stoked we are back here for the World Championships. I’m super excited and a little scared too. Twice the amount of everything, right?

As we arrive on the island as we go about our personal journey this upcoming week let’s keep the old saying dear to our hearts: keep the hay in the barn. Let’s try to remember that we are guests here: that we are allowed by the Island to be present. Let’s remember our personal goals that we have for race day, and let’s not waste unnecessary energy being that person. Let’s not waste that energy on negativity, ungratefulness and poor stewardship.

Swim, ride, and run safely. Remember that a car always wins, no matter who is right or wrong. Remember we are all guests here: smile, be nice and be grateful to the people that host us. I think this year’s initiative isn’t just about the race; this is something that all of us (the triathlon community) in general need to do better at when we descend upon a community that hosts us. And no better place to start than at what truly is our sport’s most prized and most precious asset.

Let’s have a great week.