Multisport Magazine Issue 22 - Page 11

FEATURE STORY ROB HILL T en years of qualifying, training, tapering and racing at the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii have provided so many memories, friends, challenges to overcome and so many lessons learned both in the sport of triathlon and in life. The question is: What is MY Hawaii? In other words, what does this race mean to me personally? Racing the Hawaii Ironman 10 consecutive years was never a goal of mine, which in a way made achieving it a lot easier. I focused on one race at a time, one season at a time, one Ironman preparation at a time. When I first qualified for Hawaii at Ironman Australia in 2007 and first experienced the excitement and awe of racing in Kona, I made a commitment that if I ever qualify again for Hawaii I will respect the achievement and accept the slot. I was also motivated by something that has motivated me ever since my first sprint triathlon in 1997: to get better at this sport. I have been privileged to have put together nine consecutive, solid qualifying Ironman races since that first one in 2007, and lucky (in a weird way) that when things have gone drastically wrong, or even just those race days where we feel flat and unable to perform at our best, these races have been at Kona in October. It’s a bit frustrating when a good race in Hawaii has become my main goal of the year, but the upside has been that I have had that opportunity again the next year to fulfil my potential in Kona. Each year when the plane lands at Kona airport and I first breathe in the hot air, I feel at home, all be it an oppressive, draining home that provides a very tough place to train or race. The only sessions I do that feel comfortable in Kona are in the water! There is something special about Kona which people like Mark Allen have spoken much about: the spirituality of the place, the land feels raw and alive which I suspect is to do with the newness of the land and the most active volcano in the world that continues to add land mass to the Big Island. Beyond the physical preparation to do well in October in Hawaii, there is a real benefit of respecting the island, the conditions and the difficulty of the race. Every year this Ironman feels to me like a double Ironman compared to racing the same distance back home. It is the biggest challengeof the sport, with the toughest competition you can face in a swimbike-run event. My Hawaii is just this, facing up to all of these challenges that cannot be found at any other race and putting my reputation on the line - again - to test myself in one of the special places in the world! TURIA PITT FINISHES HAWAII Y ou couldn’t write about Hawaii 2016 without mentioning the name Turia Pitt. Along with our own John Maclean, has there been a more inspirational Australian athlete complete the Ironman World Championship? For over five years Pitt endured 200 operations after suffering severe burns to 70% of her body in an Ultra Marathon in Western Australia. Pitt was told she would never run again. Well she proved the doctors wrong and went on to finish Hawaii in 14:37:30. During the race Pitt needed to wear a special skin suit to help regulate her temperature as well as use modified brakes on her bike due to the injuries to her hands. Turia Pitt is an Australian icon and watching her cross the line was one of the most special finishes ever seen in Kona. THE WRAP UP S o another year is done for Kona and while the athletes who finished on the famous Alii Drive, under the Banyon Tree, rest and take stock of what they have achieved, over 30,000 athletes around the world are plotting and planning how they will get to Kona 2017. Pick your qualifying race wisely, train smart and you too may just add your name to the Hawaii Honour Roll of Finishers. MULTISPORT MAGAZINE | 11