Categorized | Multi-sport, Sports

Ironmanlife: Gearing up for Kona

(Kevin Mackinnon previews race coverage for the Ironman World Championship)

People keep telling me to enjoy my week in Kona, grinning as they picture a week filled with Mai Tais and leisure time on the beach.

I don’t have the heart to tell them that I’ll be spending much of my time in a trailer parked in the King Kamehameha parking lot, wearing a fleece jacket ’cause the AC is turned up so high to keep the servers cool, typing madly away.

Then, of course, there’s my daily verbal kick-in-the-butt from Greg Welch for our Ironman Radio podcasts, which will start Monday.

Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t have it any other way. The week before the Ironman World Championship is electric. All week long Kailua-Kona is transformed into the training grounds of the world’s fittest athletes.

Everywhere you look, at pretty much any time you look, you find super-fit athletes swimming, biking and running. The pros look on-the-edge fit – so gaunt you want to take them out for a giant cheeseburger and fries. The age groupers are every bit as intense – you don’t make it to Kona unless you’re the real deal.

As usual, I’ve been inundated with requests for my Kona predictions and, as usual, I’ve been avoiding any answers to those questions. I will say this, though: I can’t wait for Saturday’s race.

I watched a supposedly less-peaked Craig Alexander rip through a 1:12:05 half marathon in Muskoka a few weeks ago – that on the toughest Ironman 70.3 run course I’ve ever seen.

I watched Andreas Raelert ride away from many of the world’s best in Germany earlier this year, then hold off those same impressive athletes through the marathon.

Word is Chris Lieto is riding faster than ever and is running really well, too.

Anyone care to bet against Chris McCormack, Rasmus Henning, Timo Bracht, Terenzo Bozzone, Eneko Llanos, Andy Potts, Dirk Bockel, Marino Vanhoenacker … to name just a few? I certainly wouldn’t.

In theory the women’s race will be a snoozer as we watch Chrissie Wellington ride away from the rest of the field and then leave us all to try and figure out how many men she’s going to beat.

That’s in theory – in practice there are a whole pile of women who are more-than-ready to challenge that theory, especially if Wellington falters even in the slightest.

Mirinda Carfrae’s run in Muskoka a few weeks ago was every bit as impressive as Alexander’s – last year’s runner up is riding faster than ever, too, which is exactly what needs to happen if she’s going to challenge Wellington.

One woman who can ride with Wellington (if not even faster), is Julie Dibens. It’ll be fun to see how she makes out in her first appearance in Kona.

Add to the list of women’s contenders Virginia Berasategui, Rebekah Keat, Tereza Macel, Samantha McGlone, a rejuvenated Joanna Lawn, Sandra Wallenhorst, Yvonne van Vlerken, Linsey Corbin … and I’m sure there’s a whole pile more I’m forgetting who will be part of the action next Saturday.

Did I mention how much I’m looking forward to seeing this race?

Once again we’ll be bringing you a week-long look at all the action happening in Kona.

Lee Gruenfeld will provide a series of his hilarious columns. Other writers providing stories next week include Jim Scott, previewing the age group men, Dawn Henry, who will give us a look at all the events from a local perspective, Barry Siff, who’s Boulder Buzz column will feature some of the Kona contenders, Matthew Dale, who brings us a look at the Ironman from the San Diego perspective and then, of course, my daily column and stories from Kona, too.

It all builds to race day, which will feature live video coverage hosted by Greg and other Ironman celebrities, live text updates by yours truly, photos and athlete tracking.

So join us Monday for our week of Ironman coverage – it won’t include any Mai Tais or any lounging on the beach, but it will include all kinds of news from Kona.

(Reach Kevin Mackinnon at kevin@ironman.com)

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