Kona Race Report

I’m not usually one for race reports but a few people have been asking and I figure this race is bit of an exception…

In terms of personal achievements this ranked right up there with my under 13 most determined award for the Ashburton Redbacks Jnr FC.

I’ll start with the good stuff…

– 9 hours 24 mins for my fist time in Kona- I’ll take that any day of the week!

– Crossed the finish line to find my wife Mayra Johnstone waiting for me with tears streaming down her face – fair to say it was a massive campaign for all involved

– High 5 to Xavier Coppock running down the finish chute, the man that guided me all the way to that moment- absolute gold

– Beers in the spa with Stephen Hill the day after the race ?

Now from the beginning

My general mood was quite relaxed in the weeks leading up to the race but admittedly I had a very anxious 24 hours pre race then all of a sudden I’m treading water and feeling the enormous energy of hundreds of other nervous men chomping at the bit for the cannon to fire.

As expected the start of the swim was ferocious , and to be honest there weren’t many stages of the entire swim were I wasn’t concerned about something (not ideal) . goggles knocked off, avoiding kicks to the face from some aggressive bloke with massive legs and a minor wardrobe malfunction a aka “zipper-gate” .

Swim – 1.03 which was 2.5 mins slower than the practice swim 7 days earlier, wasn’t stoked but moved on pretty quickly.

T1 – lack of planning and rookie nerves took over – fumbled around with my bike shoes for far too long
– 4.43mins ?

Out on the bike and immediately I realised just how far off the pace I was – hundreds of bikes already flying back the other way on the first 10km loop of Kuakini hwy , yep this was the real deal….

I was actually disappointed the conditions on the bike were so calm, I’d trained my guts out in strong blustery conditions for most of the build up , now I was stuck in the middle of a huge pack of riders with my effort dictated by the bikes around me.

The first 90kms with the majority of the elevations out to Hawi felt surprisingly easy, on the return it opened up slightly but still difficulty to settle into my ideal and consistent race intensity.

I kept telling myself to keep things under control and brace myself for a really hard last 50kms into a headwind, evidently this never happened and the last 30-40kms I actually felt my strongest and started to open up and ride on my terms.

I got pretty excited with myself when I saw that I’d ridden 4.49 , little did I know there were 108 blokes in my age group that had already racked their bikes ahead of me….

According to feel, power and heart rate
my body certainly had a bit more to give on the bike.

T2 – rookie nerves took over again- ran out of transition without my race-belt/number- ran back in against a tide of 10+ eager men to find a pile of race bags stacked on a table – couldn’t find mine- wasn’t going to spend all day in there so took the punt to go without it (luckily it didn’t come back to bite me!)
– 5.43mins ??

I started the 1st 2kms , 20 sec under race pace , realising pretty quickly I wasn’t kidding anyone and dialed it right back to 4.30-4.40 pace.

I can’t say I ever felt comfortable during the run but some moments were less comfortable than others. It was nice to catch up with Sandy and Xavier out on the Queen K at the around the 20km , and could have easily retired to the curb and cracked a longboard with the lads at that stage…thought it was best I push on.

Things got pretty hot around that point , my Garmin had me at 37 deg max , and I don’t think it was lying. I got to see both overall winners Patrick Lange and Daniela Ryf cruise past the other way which was bloody incredible and certainly gave me a bit of a lift.

Turning down into the energy lab was by far the toughest mental aspect of the race (more than coming back up). Was hard not to think the more I keep running out means the more I have to run back (and uphill!)….
And to see how many gun age groupers were passing by on the other side of the road was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

Coming home back on the Queen K , old mate Xavier Coppock had bobbed up again and provided great support in keeping my pace and picking off a few more key athletes ahead of me.

I was pleased I held pretty strong form for most of the run and was clearly the standout part of my overall race.

I passed a total of nearly 200 athletes from the start of the run – so at least I could take some encouragement from that.
– 3hrs21mins ??☀️??‍♂️?

78th AG 30-34 (7th Aussie ?)
322 overall