First impressions of Kona? It is definitely living up to expectations.
Yes, every athlete here is super-competitve, ultra-fit and out to kick your ass. Yes, the wind is ferocious. Yes, the lava fields do stretch on FOREVER. Yes, the run out to the energy lab early afternoon is basically like running in a sauna. Who thought this was a good idea?
But there’s also the fact that you get to see turtles and fish swimming beneath you in the bay; can put your feet up in one of the numerous coffee places overlooking the bay and seriously chill. There’s also a couple of thousand really friendly people all hanging out here who are all into the same sports as you. And at the end of the week you get to line up with the world's best ironmen and push yourself to the limit.
I’ve only been here a couple of days, and the jet lag is starting to fade, though I am writing this at 5am local time so its clearly not gone completely! From the outset, Kona’s been super-friendly – on the flight from LA to Honolulu I got chatting to a Kona resident who promptly offered me a lift from the airport upon arrival. My heat acclimatisation still has a way to go though – I looked like I’d just had a shower in my running kit yesterday after a short easy jog mid afternoon. Its a slight change from what I left in the UK on Saturday morning. Here it has been hitting 32degC and gets fairly humid after midday.
The first few days have been relaxed. After an obligatory swim first thing, there’s breakfast to look forward to a somewhere like Splashers, one of the many cafes and restaurants offering relaxed meals and unlimited coffee at pretty much any time of day. Then its on with the taper plan – and yes, coach, I am being good and not getting sucked into doing far too much this week.
Athletes seem to have arrived in droves over the weekend – the morning swim is heaving with people, and our ride yesterday saw hundreds of expensive bikes rolling out on the road towards Hawi. With them comes more of the build up to race day. With the official expo and registrations due to open today, the countdown to the start really feels like it has begun.