The big Island of Hawaii held the 2017 IRONMAN the other week on October 14th. Always amazing to see these world class racers in action. Over 2400 athletes from all around the world show up to compete here in paradise. Mac-nuts, Coffee & IRONMAN are synonymous with the Big Island.
I am happy & looking forward to share with you the photos I was able to capture of the unbelievable power of the human spirit & strength to accomplish whats in front of it.
Photo Gear Specs-
Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM
Canon Extender EF 2X III.
Shutter Speed 1/800
AI Servo Auto Focus & IS Mode 2 set on lens.
People of all ages race from 7 am to midnight. Pro, enthusiasts & amateurs. Plenty of people twice your age to shame you as you watch, 70+ year old people competing & making descent times make you rethink your own daily activity for sure.
The pro athletes usually finish up early afternoon while everyone else trickles in the rest of the day. Many race not for the time but just to complete it. Still very admirable & inspiring, not just anyone can race this marathon.
This map gives you scale to the distance these athletes have covered before getting to the running portion. On top of the distance the athletes are racing hot, very high humid Hawaii weather. Humidity ranged from 50%-80% humidity on the 14th, that is just brutal conditions for average. These athletes dive into the challenge with no hesitation anyway.
The race starts in Kailua-Kona with the 2.4 mile swim. The athletes teams then help them transition to the long bike ride which takes them to north of the big island & back. Cycling 112 miles by only lava rock, highway & scorching sun light. Usually the most brutal part of the race, heat stroke can be very easy if not properly trained. However this year there was over cast, so the athletes time results where really good. After the ride they dump the bikes back in Kona and run down the shore front road of Ali'i Drive, out to the airport & back to town for the win.
Locals get involved also! Most who live along Ali'i Drive in town spray down the athletes after their long bike ride to help them out. Many locals have parties, taking
advantage of having front row seats to the race while safely drinking in the driveway, by a beer of course I mean a full keg, table full of pupus & a ton of friends with tunes. Always a fun day, usually locals do this or they avoid town all together cause the race takes up the main roads. It becomes very busy & honestly most live on the big island for the slow pace of life, even by other Hawaii island standards.
While some athletes don't wish to be sprayed with water, the majority of them love it and appreciate it. In these photos the athletes have only run 5 out of 26 miles that run along the Queen K highway. To say the least they need all the cooling off they could use. From what I understand most of the time when the athletes don't want to be sprayed is cause they don't want their shoes wet.
Here is the map of the running portion.
Here are some photos of the male athletes doing what they do best. Powering it out.
Male athletes start first. They usually end roughly an hour a head of the female athletes. Nothing but skin & bone on these guys. Pure stream line. Some bring little water bottles or have sponges to soak up sweat but most just tough it out. I am amazed at what they do to themselves. The physical shape of their bodies always amaze me. They have slimmed down as far as they can while still being healthy. Their whole way of life is for this day.
People like to run or bike ride along with the athletes. Some take a very creative approach. This reminds me of my old home Portland, OR.
Women athletes begin to trickle in not to far behind the men, doing what they do best. Crushing records.
Women athletes start the race not long after the men. They have been doing a good job at closing the gap between the male athletes over the years. They set new records every race. They are very inspiring & they inspire each other greatly. Not to pander but only by observing the athletes it seems that women are more naturally built for the harsh stress on the body for a marathon. Their bodies don't seem as drained, more energized & they don't appear as winded or tired as many male athletes. Of course this is a generalization & for all I know they are dying on the inside. Plenty of men were smiling also, just going on observation. Check out the results for them right here.
If the regular athletes didn't make you feel like a lazy slob or inspire you, then this athlete certainly will. I would love to know the full story of this racer. IRONMAN keeps terrible records on news, once the race ends its near impossible to find info on the website. It might be Bill Chaffery who raced in 2013, but don't quote me. It's very inspiring to see people blow past life obstacles from unable to walk or missing legs. They don't let anything stop them.
IRONMAN is impressive.
More impressive is how the city of Kona is able to handle the giant influx of visitors for this one week out of the entire year. Kailua-Kona's population is not even 15,000. The population roughly doubles though when the athletes, families & fans all arrive. This does inject some needed commerce into the economy but it does create problems. By having such a rapid increase in population & the athletes training all over the roads, driving becomes much more dangerous for everyone.
This year an unfortunate accident happened when a world record athlete was knocked out of the game when a local driver blew through the bike lane at an intersection cutting off the athlete & causing a broken neck injury. He has lucky stars however, he will need no surgery & he should recover in a few months. Click here for the full story. HAWAII NEWS REPORT
Some of the Big Island locals do get get understandably indignant over the race. Others are just not use to the town doubling in size & find it hard to drive. Then there are those few who are unfortunately under the influence. Both sides have blame to share when this happens a lot of the time.
Athletes do tend to take up the road while training because they wont bike single file in the bike lanes. I can only guess its their competitive spirit. Still 12 athletes on bikes spilling into the road makes things pretty dangerous. Not only that. Some visitors to Hawaii have the attitude that the Island was "Made for them & only exists for their vacation," then act & drive like there are no laws, they can do whatever & getting in the way of the residents way of life doesn't matter cause its THEIR vacation. They think they are allowed to cause its their one time to Hawaii "Why does it matter?" After living here for 4 years I have see and experience that attitude from many visitors, especially around the race time.
Last year multiple fans and teams used spray paint instead of the usual chalk to write messages all along the race path & streets which cost the city a lot of money to remove. A lot of people don't use their heads while vacationing, they think rules are different or don't apply to them. The rules are the same & they do apply to EVERYONE. People don't wanna feel used & they want their home treated with respect. On behalf of locals & residents I ask you to please treat the islands & people with respect when you visit & you will receive the same right back with aloha spirit. Thank you.
IRONMAN leaves as fast as it comes. Kona is deflating from bursting at the seams with visitors. Locals can get back to the regular flow of life. Proud athletes are returning to their even more proud countries & families. I find my self lucky to be able to easily access the race & cover it. Many people have to go through great lengths & money to get here while us locals walk out our front doors and just crack a beer. It is a struggle to make a living in Hawaii but there are very fun unique perks you get by living here. I would say the front row treatment to IRONMAN is one of them for sure.
I appreciate you reading my blog. Hope you start to follow me & my photography to where ever it takes me. Here are some other pics from the race. THANKS AGAIN!
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