I ticked off Ironman World Championship finish number 12 on October 13th 2018 at Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii and again challenged my body and mind by taking on what I consider to be the toughest triathlon course I have raced on.
The success I am aiming for in this race has not yet come to me, however I know that the way to guarantee failure is to stop believing that it is possible. It also makes the successes at qualifying races and other competitions all the more rewarding, as well as a good reminder that no matter how my race goes on the Big Island each year, it will not define me as an athlete, a coach or as a person. The hot, humid weather, the no-wetsuit swim, the constant hills on the bike course do not make for the perfect race for me and my strengths, however this is part of the attraction for me.
The enjoyment of turning up to Kona every year since 2007 has not dimmed and a good reason for that is in seeing and feeling the excitement of friends who are there racing for the first or second time, where the experience is still fresh and holds much promise for a successful race. In the last couple of years it has been the athletes I coach who have made it into the field at Kona that have reinvigorated my enthusiasm for this race – this is a course that I have raced on more than any other (including the local races in Melbourne that I first started my triathlon journey on) and know how satisfying it is for anyone to have the honour of racing, as well as finishing, the Hawaii Ironman.
This race has given me so much over the years, regardless of my actual performance in the results. It has given me unshakeable confidence whenever I line up to race another Ironman, hence being able to qualify for Kona 12 times in 12 qualifying attempts over the last 12 years. It has also given me an enormous respect for the island that hosts this event, for the weather that can crush you or occasionally assist you through the lava fields, for the locals who support the race and help make it all happen. The friends I have made over the years who live in Kona, or who have raced with me in Kona (or both!) are a gift that is worth more than the result that I will continue to strive for.
In summary, I have a message to the athletes I coach, to my club members and to anyone who has a goal (or dream) of one day treading water in Kailua Bay in early October, waiting for the cannon to signal the start of the Ironman Hawaii. Don’t give up on this dream, work out (with my help as necessary) what will be required to make it into the field, make an honest assessment as to whether you are prepared to do the work to achieve this goal, then jump in with 100% commitment to make it happen. I can’t wait to welcome you to the Ironman World Championship finishers club!