With Think Fit winding down I am finding myself looking to get back to my writing a lot more. I am actually surprised how much it has been on my mind lately so at 5:30 in the morning while I am waiting for my coffee to be ready seems like the perfect time.
I am in Kona to watch the Iron Man World Championships this weekend. I have a number of friends racing as well as some MX Endurance people including one of our coaches and a close friend of mine, Jenna-Caer Seefried. I think as much as I am excited to see the pro race unfold this weekend the real battle I am looking forward to is between Charles Legget and Tom Mort. The tension between these two guys is… non-existent. Two incredible athletes who genuinely only want each other to have a good race.
For many of us weird lycra-wearing oddballs, Kona is the holy grail. I mean, I don't even race Iron Man and I have always wanted to come here and experience it.
As hard as this may be for you to accept, there was a time when I did not dedicate my life to posing for photos of myself swimming, biking and running but even then I knew what Iron Man Hawaii was. You hear so much about the sport, the history, names like Palani Hill, the Queen K or Hawi. When it came time to board my flight here I was pretty excited.
The first 24 hours here was amazing. I swam in the crystal clear waters and saw more fish than I have ever successfully caught in my life, I geeked out as we parked our car in a car park halfway up Palani and I got strangely emotional about my first ride on the Queen K (Really it’s just a smooth highway with a wide shoulder). I mean, I got excited when the wind picked up and when I fell to pieces on my first run it felt like I had earned a badge of honour!
Everything was bigger and better than I could have imagined. Then I started to notice something and the more I notice it the more I don't like it. Now before I go into what I think may not be a super popular opinion here I want to acknowledge a few things. People who qualify for this race are the best of the best as both amateurs and professionals. This is the biggest single day race in triathlon and to even qualify for it is amazing. I also acknowledge that while I am not a professional athlete, I do take my triathlon and pursuit of my goals very seriously (my wife and family might say obsessively).
So with those disclaimers out of the way I need to ask… What the fuck? Why are there so many rude and arrogant people here? I am not talking about the ripped Amazonians and adonises running along Alii Drive with their shirt off. I am talking about the people who really look you up and down as you walk or run past them, who stare at you as you cycle the other way or the guy who yelled at me as he passed me on the Queen K yesterday. I mean not a “on your left” or even a “get your slow ass out of my way” literally an extremely aggressive yell as he rode towards me that scared the absolute shit out of me. I sent some choice 4 letter words mostly starting with c right back at him.
Now I understand that a lot of the issues I have are around my body. I will not be that guy running around Kona with his shirt off, I will not enter the famous underwear run this week and as usual, no I will not be wearing speedos when I am swimming. But triathlon to me is an inclusive sport. I mean I think I put that in nearly every post I write about triathlon. Yet here I am surrounded by the leaders of our sport, the best of the best and a shockingly large amount of them walk around like they are Jan Frodeno or Daniela Ryf (they aren't) and even if they were, why does that give them the right to be so rude?
I get it, it is the big island and you have a big race coming up but that doesn't mean there is any need for people to be so… cold? Nah it is fucking hot in Kona… Aggressive, some are but I am still not sure that is it… Oblivious, yes! That’s the word I am looking for! So many people know I haven’t don't an Iron Man and I think it is one of the most common questions people ask me. I have half expected to come to Kona and leave next week signed up for one trying to qualify for Kona myself. I suppose that makes me an Iron Man novice. Well I can tell you that the behaviours and attitude I am seeing and experiencing here is not making me anymore interested in completing the 226km race at all.
I also feel it is important here to acknowledge this is not everyone. There are so many incredible, friendly people here. I have met people from all over the world who have been so nice and genuinely excited to race here. I know that there are people who do take this stuff incredibly seriously and I have written about it before but it just seems like a larger number of not so friendly triathletes are all in the same place at the same time. Does this mean the best athletes in our sport have a higher chance of also being a prick? I refuse to believe it. But what I want to say is that you are here because you are the best of the best in our sport. You are all role models to people like myself who are not part of the cool club. So maybe realise that your long stares, aggressive training behaviours and random screams are not why people want to come to Kona!
Thanks for reading and if you are that random guy who yelled at me on the Queen K yesterday I am sorry I used so many great swear words at you. Good luck to everyone racing this weekend, enjoy the experience and remember to TRI!