Hawaii Blog Days 10 – 11: Let Race Week commence!

Blogging every day is hard work.

Monday marked the start of race week and the transformation of Kailua from quaint seaside town into a crazy cacophony of colours and banners and pop up tents and free samples and promotions and launches and noise and always, everywhere, the better dressed, more tanned, fitter looking, faster looking triathletes. It’s insane. It’s fun. It’s a bit tedious.

The day started with a swim with Frederik Van Lierde (2013 Champion) in the next lane over. Then we went to Huggos where Breakfast with Bob is filmed and watched a couple of interviews including Rachel Joyce, defending champion Sebastian Kienle and James’ new crush, Heather Jackson, here for her first Kona. It was pretty cool hanging out on the quiet shaded Lana’i, with David and Sharon, the waves crashing below, drinking smoothies and listening to the pros and chatting to the lovely Poncho Man (who plays each segment in and out on the ukulele).

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A short run in the afternoon and in the evening we went to the Heroes of Hawaii Cultural legacy. I don’t understand why more people don’t go to this – it’s free, it’s great fun, the food is good, what’s not to like? James proved a dab hand at making a flower bracelet, whereas I probably chose the wrong medium, as mine is still not finished. It takes me about a half hour to do a quarter inch, at which point I then have to unwind about an eighth of an inch after spotting a mistake. I may be at it some time.

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Tuesday dawned clear and cloudless, which means hot. We had a slower start, and while scanning Twitter over my porridge I noticed Rachel Joyce was the conduit for Cervelo’s competition today – find her at the pool at 9am and answer a simple question and win a cool looking Cervelo hat. I figured we might be at the pool at around that time, so I told James to look out for her, but I wasn’t going to cut my swim short for a free hat, however nice. I swam well (maybe partly due to this time swimming next to Kienle – awesomeness is soluble, right?) and was walking to the showers when I practically walked into Rachel. Turned out no one had won it yet, so I got the hat. Goes well with my P3!image

Registration had opened earlier in the morning, so we went down to the King Kamehameha hotel. There are almost as many volunteers associated with registration as there are athletes in the room at any one time. There are volunteers who check you know your race number, that you have the necessary documentation, who direct you to the next place you line up, and the people who talk you individually through all the paperwork you have to sign – that you waive the right to sue if the non-USA-accredited helmet you wear doesn’t protect you from brain damage, that you agree to be buried at sea in the event you don’t survive the swim and – new for this year – that you’ll carry into transition only what you need to survive (and which fits into the plastic bags they give us for this purpose). After signing all that, they gave us an enormous yellow and black (how Piratey!) dry bag and I have spent the last few days getting twitchy at the number of people who don’t know how to close them and are merrily cycling or walking around with their bags gaping open.

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While I was registering the winds picked up. Then they really got their act together and a gust brought down a tree, which took with it a power line and several blocks were without power for a couple of hours. Plus the Ironman merchandise tent was unable to carry out transactions for about 20 mins which may have seriously dented their bottom line…

We met up for coffee with the lovely Claire and Duncan Shea-Simmons, then went home for lunch and a laze around before the Parade of Nations. I find it more than a little awkward to parade down the high street with people clapping and cheering, but it is a good opportunity to get to know some other UK athletes. This year we even looked like a team, thanks to Freespeed and Fusion sport providing us with snazzy T shirts and TYR topping it off with visors.

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The parade end marks the ‘official’ opening of the expo where in the space of 300m you end up with more free socks, samples and random widgets than you ever dreamed you’d never need. We escaped with David, Sharon and international supporters extraordinaire Emma and Andy (last seen in Nice) to Hoppers for posh fish and chips (in one form or another) and some great laughs.

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