Kona Diaries 2015 – Day 13 – Race Week Tuesday – The Parade of Nations

In my plans to get ready for a super early wake-up on race morning today we decided to wake a little earlier (alarm set for 5:30am) and go to the pier for an earlier swim. Yes, you read that right. 5:30am. Yes, we are on holiday. Things over here just seem to be time-shifted a couple of hours earlier than in the UK. It’s light at 6am every day and dark at 7pm. Every day.

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Whilst walking to the pier we met up with Andy and Emma. It was getting busy down there but through the crowd of lean toned and fit bodies there was one that stood out. It was my bro-mance ‘partner’ from 2013, Paul Deen!

We were back at ‘our’ spot – by the big banyan tree close to the pier. It was great to see him (I last saw him post race at Ironman Wales in 2014 when I qualified for this race).  He’s just here to watch having raced here the past two years.

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Today at 7am the Coffees of Hawaii floating espresso bar opened for business. Well… all was not what it seems. ‘Coffees of Hawaii’ no longer provide the coffee. I’ve no idea what the reasons behind it are (some months ago they stopped support of the excellent ‘IM Talk’ podcast so I guess they’ve chosen to step back from the sport). Anyway, we can be grateful that free coffee is still available out on the ocean for a few days during race week. This time it is served by Starbucks.  If it wasn’t for them then perhaps there would be no coffee on the boat… who knows…

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We all swam out to the boat which was about 450m away. This is actually good as I’d get an easy 900m or so swim in today. I’ll happily do that for the next couple of days as well and count it as training. Perfect.

At the boat the usual wares were on offer – coffee, coffee with cream, coffee with sugar, coffee with cream and sugar. The choice was almost endless. Almost.

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It’s a great little social thing to do and we get out there, splash about, wash the salt out of our mouths with some hot coffee and just have fun. And I get to call it training!

The underwater life is quite spectacular here in Hawaii

The underwater life is quite spectacular here in Hawaii

Post swim we slowly made our way to a little place nicknamed the ‘gecko cafe’ on Ali’i Drive. A fine breakfast was served and as well as the small group of us we saw and said hello to a few others we know as they strolled by.

We then slowly ambled towards Huggo’s to try and catch an interview with UK pro Jodie Swallow on Breakfast with Bob. We went via Lava Java and caught up with the BlackLineLondon gang who had found themselves the biggest table in the place – together with a mighty fine view of the ocean.

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It was also lovely to catch up with yet another Epic Camp colleague, Mark Pietrofesa. He’s not here racing this year but loves the place and enjoys coming out to watch. Good on him.

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Over to Huggo’s Restaurant was next on the agenda and we caught the end of an interview with Sunny Garcia – a world championship winning surfer who seems to have found himself on the start list for this years race.

Next up was Tyler Butterfield – a two time Olympian who is proud to say that his mother has run a faster marathon (2 hours 38 minutes) than he has. His dad was also pretty sporty having also taken part in the Olympics (in 1972) and also finished seventh in the 1981 Hawaii Ironman.

DCIM108GOPROWe hung around for one more interview which was with Timothy O’Donnell – he’s a pretty darn good Ironman triathlete but often gets referred to as World Champion Mirinda Carfrae’s other half.

Breakfast with Bob is a great place in the middle of town where there’s no hustle and bustle, food and drink available and some pretty interesting stories being told right before your eyes by the top names in the sport.

Post Huggo’s a quick photo op where I had the chance to look as great as Michelle Vesterby winning a race and also see if I could be Tim Don after he said I was too tall the other day.  I believe I passed both tests with flying colours.

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I decided I may as well do a run today so I can start my run taper tomorrow (!). I’ve not made it to the Energy Lab section (a part of the run between miles 16-19 which seems to be iconic in this race) this trip so I’ll save that fun for race day.

To help give Andy the full race preparation experience I asked him if he’d like to join me on a run at lunchtime. When it’s nice and warm of course. He said yes and arranged to call for me at about 11:45am.

After returning home for a pre run drink (iced coffee) I got myself ready and after Andy arrived we set off. We wanted to take a look at the different refreshment ‘houses’ located up and down Ali’i Drive during race week.

Ali'i Drive is a pleasant place to go for a run

Ali’i Drive is a pleasant place to go for a run

This place is truly crazy during Ironman week.

Within a couple of minutes we made our first stop for some ‘SOS’ sports drink. Even though we were laden with some cold Powerade that I had in the fridge we felt obliged to chat and have a drink with the folk who are promoting their goods on the street.

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Next up with the Specialized (bike manufacturer) house. A sign said ‘Happy Hour 12-2pm’ but as it was bang on midday we decided that we’d look too keen if we went in there straight away – and especially as we’d only run less than half a mile!

So we headed on.

We stopped for a few drinks during our run.

‘Clif’ provided drinks in what looked like a petri dish – it barely held anything in it! Beggers can’t be choosers though.

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There was a lovely mist shower available at the Gatorade/TrainingPeaks area.

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We stopped for a few minutes at the beach by Kahaluu Bay (close to the first run turnaround in Saturday’s marathon) and then headed back towards town.

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A little way along I spotted one of those uber-triathlete types – just running along wearing shorts and a heart rate monitor. He looked familiar and turned out to be Declan (who was here in 2013 and we saw a few days ago). We caught up with him, had a chat and then had a little jog together.

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After dropping him off home safe and sound Andy and I headed back to the Specialized house.

DCIM108GOPROI’d been to this house before in 2013 for the Slowtwitch website ‘gathering’. It’s stunning. Today was no exception. There were probably 20-30 people there maximum and a good half dozen or so of them were professional racers including multiple Kona winners Craig Alexander and Chris McCormack. Others included Tim Don, Ben Hoffman and Brent McMahon.

Food and drink was available and although most people looked fairly casual I’m not sure the dripping with sweat and gasping for water look that Andy and myself were sporting was the perfect fit with the surroundings. It was close though!

The slightly blurry nature of the following photos is due to sweat on the camera lens.

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Ben Hoffman (2nd in 2014) introduced himself to us and the three of us had a good little chat for about 5-10 minutes. The access you get out here to the pros (if you’re interested – I was only there for the drinks!) is crazy.

We were then ushered inside for a ‘Pro Q&A session’ which lasted 20-30 minutes and both Andy and I were able to ask questions. Really cool.

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By this point we’d almost stopped sweating so it was time for a final drinks top-up and then head out of the door back onto the road for the final stretch home.

Of course we stopped once more at the SOS house to get a quick drink of ‘the greatest sports drink in the world’ is or something like that!  One of the ladies there said to us ‘Oh, you’re from England. Do you know Gordon Ramsey (who’s competing on Saturday)?’

Back home for a shower and before long we were out the door again to head into town for one of the highlights of the week – the Ironman Keiki Dip’n’Dash. This consists of a number of races for children aged 2-14 and is such fun to watch. There’s a running race and also a swim-run race.

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Watching the main event – the dip’n’dash with a group of 6-14 years olds doing a mass swim start made me even more terrified of the 1700+ people I’ll be starting my swim with on Saturday morning.

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Once the race was over it was time for the Ironman Parade of Nations. This is a bit like the Olympics opening ceremony without it being the Olympics! Athletes from each country parade through town behind an official flagbearer.

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Last year UK qualifiers were been provided with t-shirts to wear during the parade and this really made a difference and shows us together as one team. A special t-shirt was designed for this year by Richard from Freespeed that says on it ‘God Save The Queen K’ (you know, the ‘Queen K’ is the short name of the main road that we cycle and run on during the Ironman.  It’s a play on words you see. At least I hope you see!) Thanks to Fusion Sports for the t-shirts and to Paul for bringing them out here.

We were also given visors to wear as well thanks to the clothing company TYR.

Anyway, I collected my t-shirt and then got chatting to a lady I’ve been wanting to track down for a good few days – Jennifer. Jennifer is an Ironman Lottery winner (a number of athletes can gain entry to the race via a lottery – which was one of the things that one of the founders of Ironman wanted – the opportunity to provide athletes of all abilities the opportunity to take part in the world championships. Well… Jennifer was selected in the lottery and also did an Ironman earlier this Summer. She’s apprehensive about the race and I wanted to try and see if I could calm any nerves and just get to know her.

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Somehow she’d been given the Union Flag to carry at the front of the parade. How cool.

Well… the next thing was that a sign saying ‘United Kingdom’ was thrust into my hand along with the words ‘David – this is for you. You’re the ideal man for the job!’

Sure. I’ll try my best.

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For the next 45 minutes or so Jennifer and myself had an awesome time. We chatted, we waved our signs and flags, we ‘herded’ the athletes from the UK from the start through town and to the Expo area where the parade ends.

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There were crowds on both sides of the street cheering us all on and we all got a great reception.

It was awesome.

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Right before the end I wasn’t quite sure why but some foreign folk with megaphones demanded that I do some one armed press-ups – probably to show the strength of the UK team.  Of course I obliged and the photo you see is after I completed 10 one armed press-ups with the other arm behind my back and a couple of people sat on top of me.

We’re rock hard us UK folk you see.

DCIM108GOPROAt the end of the parade we all find ourselves in the Expo area, or ‘Ironman Village’ as it’s called. We got to look around some of the stands (there’s lots of manufacturers here) and picked up a few free bits and pieces (such as socks and hats).

We also made it just in time for another beautiful sunset.

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On one of the stands I saw my favourite Danish professional triathlete, Michelle! She’s bonkers, I’m slightly crazy, we grabbed some temporary tattoos from her (and a sticker for me to put on the the fridge at home) and headed on our way. I also enquired as to what time she was being interviewed on Wednesday morning on the ‘Breakfast with Bob’ show.

11:30am. Sorted.

Post parade a small group of us went for dinner, drunk some beer and went home.

Tuesday of race week is a day I don’t think I’ll forget any time soon.

Posted in David, Kona Diaries 2015
3 comments on “Kona Diaries 2015 – Day 13 – Race Week Tuesday – The Parade of Nations
  1. Daddy says:

    So glad it’s all going well I woke up at 3am could not get back to sleep so read your latest coffee and clothes show hope your getting paid ! Love reeding it and seeing you both it feels like we are there to . I think I will stick to my golf and dancing though am off to good wood golf club today for a change glad your leg is better take care love daddy an mummy x x

  2. Vera Darlington says:

    With all that sweating I don’t suppose you ever need to wee! It’s great that you get to see so many of your fellow Ironman competitors along the way. You may be a little apprehensive but I can’t wait until Saturday. We’ll be cheering you along although you might not hear us. Auntie Vera xx

  3. Carola from Oz says:

    The name dropping is unbelievable David. It reads like the Hello magazine of sport, IM of course.
    Your writing style is great and makes us all feel we are part of your adventure. Keep the stories coming….

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