This popular race offers athletes a chance to ride part of the famous Ironman World Championship bike course.
Nicknamed Honu, in honor of the Hawaiian green sea turtle, the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii offers competitors a beautiful venue.
It starts with an open-ocean swim and follows with a challenging course along the northern half of the Ironman World Championship bike course.
The swim takes place at Hapuna Beach State Park, frequently listed as one of the best beaches in the United States with its warm, crystal blue waters, white sand, and occasional sightings of spinner dolphins and resident honu (turtles).
The bike course leads athletes along the infamous Queen Kaahumanu and Akoni Pule Highways towards the tiny northern town of Hawi, known for its unique boutiques, restaurants and galleries, and of course as the Ironman bike turn-around.
Athletes cycle their way through black lava fields and green pastures, ancient, historic Hawaiian heiau (temples), and modern wind farms that hint of the notorious and legendary kamakani winds.
The hot and sunny run starts and finishes at the beautiful Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii and winds its way through the Mauna Lani Resort over modern golf greens, past ancient petroglyph fields and fishponds, and the historic Ala Loa Foot trail.
The post-race lawn party at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii is worth making it to the finish line. The host hotel goes all out to feed the hungry athletes, but the real dessert is the championship slot allocations at the end of the day.
After the race, the island offers competitors a vacation playground with a variety of natural wonders to explore, including rain forests, waterfalls, active volcanoes, black sand beaches, and abundant marine life.
This race offers 30 qualifying slots to the 2015 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Zell am See, Salzburg, Austria.
Ulcerative colitis hasn’t stopped this triathlete from training, racing, and mentoring others in the sport she loves.
Jennifer Ward Barber | Special to Hawaii 24/7
Shavon Collins is a soon-to-be first-time Ironman 70.3 finisher living with ulcerative colitis, commonly known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). She’ll take on her first half-distance race in May at Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, in an effort to continue fundraising in an effort to find a cure for the disease, which together with Crohn’s affects over half a million children and adults in the U.S. alone.
Collins, 47, trains and races in and around her home in Aptos, California, with and for Team Challenge, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s endurance training and fundraising program (and one of the official charity parters of Ironman 70.3 Hawaii).
We caught up with Collins a few weeks out from the race to get her insight on training and racing with her physical challenges, and how being part of something bigger has impacted her training, her racing, and her life.
“It’s all Team Challenge’s fault! It goes back to getting diagnosed with in 2010. I was attending a meeting and sitting there, totally overwhelmed by everything. Little post cards were being passed out on Team Challenge, and one of them happened to be a half marathon on the Las Vegas strip at night. Being a track athlete in my younger days, I thought ‘what on earth do you do for more than a lap? What do you think about for more than a minute?’ My coach for that event (Ken Lucchesi) is still my coach today. A month later I was asked to be a mentor for San Diego Triathlon Challenge.”
Tackling the Ironman 70.3 distance
“After years participating in triathlon, my coach said to me ‘So you’re going to do a Ironman 70.3 right?’ I looked at him and said ‘You’ve got to be kidding. I have a full-time job and two teenagers and I can barely fit the trianing in now.’ He said ‘You’re doing it. I’m not doing it without you. I know you can do this, I see it in you.’ And you know what? I did a 100k bike ride here in Morgan Hill last weekend, and I feel kinda OK! I felt a little tired, but as I said to my husband, ‘I can still clean the house and make dinner tonight.'”
“I work long hours as an executive assistant and so I train late at night and on weekends. It takes a strong commitment and strength to steer far away from the TV room couch every night. Flexibility is important, too. I have a treadmill and indoor trainer at home so if a plan goes out the window, I can work around it.
“I call my family and teammates my ‘village.’ I’ve been doing this sport for a few seasons now, and it’s key that my family is on board supporting me. Communication is number one, so, talking to my husband about what nights he can get dinner on the table for our two sons. I often make their dinner for Monday night on Sunday, and things like that. Just the other evening, I was rushing around trying to get my youngest son Elliot his dinner and he just said to me ‘Mom, you’ve got to go swimming. Go go go!”
“Colitis is an immunity disease, so if I’m training not eating right or fighting a cold it flares up. I manage it through diet, sleep, and trying to keep my stress level low. These all carry into training and racing, especially the nutrition part. For example, I know I need to drink a ton. When I did the 100 k ride last weekend, I started hydrating and paying attention to what I ate on Wednesday. Diet is very individualized. There are certain things I know I can eat, like turkey sandwiches, and bananas—gold for me! Different things work for different people. I can feel when my digestive system isn’t stressed and cramping. Dairy and high fiber foods are a trigger for most people, as well as spicy foods.”
“We need to find a cure to end the pain and discomfort, and can’t stop until all people living with these diseases can have a fabulous quality of life—one where we don’t have to map out where the nearest restrooms are for the day and one where we are able to eat scrumptious food of our choosing.”
Team Challenge family
“We have such a tight-knit group here in Nor Cal, and I’m so grateful to have them in my life. I have participated and mentored in five Team Challenge events and I could not have done it without my TC coaches, teammates, family, and friends. Being part of this team that is passionately fighting for a cure is what drives me.”
Spreading the love
“Because I have my disease mostly under control it allows me to experience something I deeply love—sharing the journey with first-time and alumni Team Challenge triathletes. I am touched each time I hear their stories and I never tire of watching their confidence grow during training. It’s always a thrill when I get to witness my mentees cross the finish line with their hands over their heads. I love watching the sudden realization that all of those long hours of training and effort to raise awareness and funds have been accomplished.”