Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor
As much of Kona knuckles down in the last hours before Saturday’s world triathlon championship, there may have been a competitor’s name that slipped quietly onto the official list of participants.
No. 884 is listed as Billy Kenoi, an American male entered in the men’s 45-49 age group division.
Hmmm … that all fits.
However, the mayor and his staff have been very quiet about this possibility. Hawaii 24/7 has not had a comment back so far.
The father-of-three has competed in shorter distance races on the island during at least the last three years, and has been spotted frequently on the finish line of the world championship, handing out hugs and medals.
As mayor, he always has been a huge proponent of living a healthy life, being active and setting a good example.
And he always has professed the greatest admiration for the thousands of athletes who annually tackle the 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile bike ride to Hawi and back, and a full 26.2 running marathon to the day.
After his first year as mayor (six years ago), when he shot the canon to start the race and hung out until the dying seconds, 17 hours later, Kenoi urged his wife to allow their three chilren stay up late the next year to experience the finish line frenzy at midnight.
“They had to see this,” he said at the time. “It’s just so incredible to see, to see what each one of these tremendous athletes can do. So inspiring, so inspiring.”
At age 45, Kenoi has some triathlon experience of his own and should be comfortable among the 2,100 athletes who are expected to start the race on Saturday. Among them will be more than 60 athletes from Hawaii.
He competed in spring 2011 at the Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon, finishing in 3 hours, 40 minutes. (Editor’s Note: The race clock malfunctioned and Kenoi’s time was recorded as 3:99:32. We still tease him about that.)
Earlier this year, he clocked a 3:08:20 on the same course.
He also competed in the Lavaman Keauhou Triathlon in 2013, topping his previous time at 3:37:47.
In this year’s Ironman 70.3, Kenoi recorded a time of 07:54:54.
Of course, without confirmation, this triathlete named Billy Kenoi could be a plumber or computer tech from Muncie, Ind.
So stay tuned …
The race will be streamed live at: www.ironman.com