|This man's job is to prevent female athletes from inadvertently going into the men's changing tent. Despite an orientation the day before, after exiting the swim, at least 20 women tried! It's Kona.|
I was privileged to be in charge of pre-race bike check in Kona. Maybe next year they'll get someone who really knows what they're doing! It really went well, mostly thanks to the prolonged efforts of a hard-working group of dedicated volunteers. We had 6 hours to check-in over 2300 athletes, age groupers and pros alike.
The desire to race Kona is intense. So many try for so many years and come up just short in their qualification race. Each slot in the race is valued. In fact the Ironman Foundation conducts an annual eBay auction for 4 of them and bids are upwards of $50,000 in some cases.
Thus, this is the most important athletic day of many if not most of these athlete's lives.
So, if it's of such a level of importance, why do some seem so unprepared? Each receives a many paged set of instructions that has been developed over 38 years of racing leaving little if anything to question. But some still show up for bike check-in without a helmet, without their bike and run bags, no number on their helmet, in need of bike repair, etc. I suppose in any large group you'll have a few who make odd choices. It's just that every athlete who toes the line has put in such effort to get here, it would be a shame to have this opportunity go awry for something so preventable.
Other athletes get nabbed by by the refs for drafting. While the rules are clear, on a rolling course like the Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway course in Hawaii, with so many athletes of similar ability, there's an ebb and flow, speeding up and slowing down, that's it's pretty hard to follow the letter of the law. Just ask these three athletes I happened to notice toward the end of the race while working as a course guide on the pier. The dreaded red slash of a violation.