You have qualified for the 2014 GoPro Ironman World Championships, or your job or loved ones take you there. But what should you do before and after the race?
Underpants Run Kona
This look at me event is always popular and this year will be the 17th edition of what started as a joke among friends. While still very much entertaining, it is far from a joke and has raised over $200,000 for various local charities over the years. This year there will be an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the Largest gathering of people wearing only underpants/knickers. This year it will start and finish behind the Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel and you should register early to make it all official. There is great swag and rumor has it there might even by timing chips involved, but most importantly - it is for a great cause.
Date: Thursday October 9th at 7:30am.
The Floating Coffee bar
Over the last few years the floating coffee bar from the crew of Coffees of Hawaii has become a very popular daily stop for the people doing their morning swim from the pier. I also suspect that it drives folks into the water who otherwise might prefer to stay on land. It isn't very far from the pier and you might even see a dolphin or two on the way out there. You will certainly see a variety of fish and corrals. But be careful and considerate too, there are many folks out there and you don't want to swim into other folks.
Date: Every morning during Ironman week.
Kona Community Aquatic Center
Swimming at the pier is a ritual for all Kona qualifiers, friends and family, but for a real workout most folks go to the Kona Community Aquatic Center and swim laps there instead. With many Pros there however you may be quickly put to shame. But in all reality, that does not matter, you are there to do what you need to do.
Island Lava Java
There are plenty of choices to eat food or enjoy a beverage, but few are as popular as Island Lava Java. It is a super popular hangout for Pros, age groupers and industry folks alike, but the crew at Lava Java earned it the hard way with great food and fantastic service even during crazy rush hours. The man pictured below runs the ship and he is fully involved.
To buy fresh fruit and vegetables there are many small markets spread around that allow you to grab very fresh stuff straight from the folks who grew it, and that includes fruit and vegetables you might never see at home. One of these markets is directly across the street from the Ironman village expo, but there are several other ones like it.
The Ironman Village expo and services
The expo is always good to explore with many exhibitors and several brands allowing you to test ride their bikes. Several brands step up even more and over VIP or concierge services to thank their customers who earned their spot to come to the big dance in Kona. Cannondale for one will provide mechanical support, VIP swag items, personal storage, and more with their concierge service. Just go to the expo and check in.
Beaches in Kona
If you want beach time, you are not limited to either side of the pier. Plus your family may appreciate to see something other than ultra thin triathletes. Depending on how far you are willing to drive you might not even feel the race buzz around you, and what is great in Kona, beaches are public and the hotels can't shut out the average Joe. There are also several beaches along Alii.
At this time the pier is still relatively quiet but starting today it will get busier and busier as we get closer to race day. If you just want to feel the vibe and see people, it does not really matter when you go, but if you want a swim and not get completely pushed around you better get that pier experience in sooner than later.
Bike shops in Kona
While some folks are very gifted when it comes to working on their bikes, many are simply not very comfortable with wrenching on their race bike, and some people simply shouldn't. But there is expert help in town should you need it.
Cycle Station is on 73-5619 Kaulhoa Street in the Kaloko Industrial area near Costco and Home Depot. They can pretty much work on any bike and they also rent out bikes should you have arrived on the island without one, planned or otherwise. During the Ironman World Championships they also open a second location on Ali'i Drive in town to be more conveniently situated for those folks without a car or who simply prefer to stay closer. The number to call is 808-327-0087.
Bike Works can be seen from the Queen K Highway reasonably close to town. They have been around for a long time now and owner Grant Miller is a super nice and hard working guy. If you can't get it done, Bike Works likely will. Address is 74-5599 Luhia St # F3 and they can be reached at 808-326-2453.
A Manta Ray snorkel adventure
On a calm evening you ought to try Manta Ray snorkeling. You are actually not diving down to the mantas but you are hanging on to a floating raft of sorts that keeps you in place, and with lighting from below you can see these magnificent creatures. The snorkels allow you to keep looking down without having to gasp for air. It is a very stunning experience and I personally did it a few years ago with Blue Sea Cruises in Kona. But there are other operators too.
MSRP: About $90 per adult
The big gathering
Hopefully you managed to register in time for the big Kona Slowtwitch gathering as it is now filled to capacity. But if you can't join us, we will document it in detail.