Monday, 10 October 2011

Kona 2011

I have heaps of photos from Germany last week which I've been meaning to put up here but with a hectic week moving house, and Ironman on last night I thought I'd unleash a few thoughts on the state of long distance triathlon in Australia.

But first, here's a preview of my Germany post:
Yep.  It was like that.

So... the Hawaiian Ironman is the world championships and has fascinated me since I was 16.  On the surface it seems a stupid endeavour (and it probably is) but I love the idea that there are 1600 people racing and there are 1600 different reasons for being there.

Australia has owned the men's race for the last 4 years (Crowie in 2008 and 2009, Macca in 2007 and 2010) and last year Miranda Carfrae also won the women's.  This year at the half IM worlds Australia won the men's and women's races (Crowie and Melissa Rollinson) so Australia held the world championship for all long distances in both genders.  A huge feat for any country and something to be flaunting for promotion of the sport, yet Triathlon Australia made no mention of this dominance on their website, in press releases or used the world champions in any kind of self promotion whatsoever.  A huge opportunity wasted.  Luckily they still have a chance because Australia finished 1st and 2nd in the men's (Crowie and Pete Jacobs) and 2nd in the women's (Carfrae) so yet another year to be proud of Australian long distance triathlon.

With the expectation that no Australian media will mention this, I will offer a few thoughts on last night's race.

Luke McKenzie, an Australian pro who has chosen his races selectively for whatever reason often gets good results in poor fields.  He has been criticised for not racing the best in the world, most famously by Macca who is a great proponent for racing in Europe against the strongest athletes.  Whether it be purely down to my physical location I'm not sure but I also agree that Europe has the most competitive Ironman racing in the world.  Luke won Ironman Brazil but it was against a 2nd rate field (who, incidentally, would tear me apart- but here I'm simply a commentator!).  Many were wondering if Luke could step up at a big name race.  Step up he did, came off the bike in 2nd and finished the race in 9th.  A huge effort that should put most people's criticism aside.

Pete Jacobs, another Aussie who finished about 10th (I think) last year.  He has been chugging away in Sydney all winter and through his twitter he seemed fairly confident during the last few weeks.  I'm fairly sure that he even surprised himself with a 2nd place!

Chrissie Wellington has done 13 ironman races.  Guess how many she's lost.  None.  Not one.  Not even a 2nd place.  13 starts and 13 wins.  I like working with trends but I understand when a trend is unsustainable.  13/13 including 4 world championship wins, I didn't expect her to win again.  Someday her run will come to an end and I hope the media don't make a big deal of it.  There are many girls so close to beating down the door and beating Chrissy but it didn't happen yesterday.  Cracking effort for Chrissie to win again.  The undisputed queen of ironman triathlon.

Once information about the age groupers comes out I'm sure there will be some spectacular performances to comment on there too.

Ironman is one of the few sports in the world where you can race against the pros on the same course, same day and same conditions.  It also keeps the pros sort of mortal in the eyes of the fans (age groupers).  But the humanity of the pros in acknowledging that everybody performed super-human feats on the day makes the event so much more incredible.  Seeing Chrissie, Mirinda and Crowie come back to the finish line after their win to congratulate athletes crossing the line all the way up to midnight puts a nice touch on the event.  It shows a mutual respect and always lights up the face of those who realise the world champion is placing a lei around their neck.

I'll leave you with my favourite photo of the day; Macca, last year's winner, not racing this year but cheering on previous arch enemy and eventual winner Crowie.  Rivalries are all talk.

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