Kona 2018: what a race!

Seven athletes from the BMC Vifit Sport pro triathlon team participated in THE Ironman of the year last month: The Ironman World Championship in Kona. The high temperatures, high humidity and the rough landscape makes it one of the heaviest Ironman’s out there. How did our 7 athletes end up? How did they get through the race, who made it to the finish and how are they doing now?

The Ironman in Kona is unpredictable. No matter how much Ironman’s an athlete has completed, it never guarantees achieving the finish line in Kona. The course is heavy, very heavy and finishing is already a huge achievement.

The BMC Vifit Sport triathlon team also showed that the race is incredibly unpredictable. In spite of that, 4 out of 7 athletes crossed the finish line of which Bart even managed to become second. A world achievement! Bart: "I almost had the perfect race and even finished second! The toughest part in the race for me was on the run (around km 25). This was the hottest point of the race and at that moment you can only dream of the finish line in front of you. By far I enjoyed my finish the most. It was a nearly an unreal feeling to finish 2nd....”  For Liz it was also a special race, since it was her last one before her 'top sport retirement’. Liz: My race was far from perfect and there are definitely aspects which I would have like to gone better. But overall it was probably a fairly true reflection of my preparation, or lack there due to injury and illness this year.I enjoyed the swim a lot, exciting in the top 5.But the best moment was the part to the finish, because I knew this would be my last. I decided to make the most of it by walking and high-fiving everyone."Maurice and Will also managed to reach the finish despite a very tough race. Maurice: "After the race, I could not even walk anymore. I had to be assisted by volunteers before I could actually celebrate something.”

Unfortunately, for Emma, ​​Patrik and Ronnie things went a little different. Emma suffered from her low blood pressure and even fainted: “For me it was probably one of my worst races in terms of the fact that I couldn’t finish it and a DNF (did not finish) is always the three letters you never want to see by your name…”Ronnie and Patrik also did not manage to cross the finish line. Ronnie due to a punch in his eye during the swimming part and Patrik could not go any further because of cramps during the last part of cycling. 

Finished or not, Kona is and will remain a great learning moment for all athletes, providing insights that can be taken on to a next race or a next Kona adventure. Patrik: "The next time, I would be better prepared at the start of the swim. I was not well prepared when the gun went off and I lost a few, but very important seconds to get into the right swimming group.” Will: “I think I would spend more time in the heat in my build up. Something I maybe didn’t do enough of this time coming from Europe.” Despite Bart being second, he also brought something of this race for next year: "The next time, I think I would take more risks during the running part. But only because I have a 2nd place already under my belt!"

Kona 2018, a tough race with mixed results and reactions. What was the first thing that the athletes did after the finish and how did they celebrate? Ronnie: "the first thing I did after my race was taping my eye. I could not even blink without pain! After this, I called my wife and I had a burger and fries to process this race.”  Emma: “I didn’t feel like celebrating... But there were a few things we needed to address about this race and my body wasn’t in any fit state to head straight into another race. So we went out and celebrated all the hard work leading into the race. Now I'm focusing on some end of season races in the heat, to test out some new strategies. We have to combat what happened at Kona.” 

But of course, there was also a lot of celebration. Maurice rewarded himself with the best burgers of Hawaii and a good BBQ, Will takes a month off to spend with his family and Liz celebrated the fact that this was her last race before retiring. Liz: "The first thing I did was hugging my family who had somehow talked their way into getting into the finish line area! It was a very emotional cuddle due to the fact that I am retiring. After this I called my sister and father back in Australia, who could not be there. I have celebrated the finish of my last race here in Hawaii, but my real reward will be next month when I go on a surfing holiday to Indonesia!"And second place winner Bart? Bart: "My reward is some quality time together with my girlfriend in Hawaii! Because of the doping control and my podium finish, she had to wait a bit longer;)"

Date: 07/11/2018
Author: Monique van de Velde, on behalf of Vifit Sport