Kona is regarded as the pinnacle of endurance events and each year as the sport moves on and competition becomes more fierce the event gains an even greater allure. Legends have been created on the ‘Big Island’, and 2018’s edition of the race is set to be the most eagerly anticipated in recent years. Millions of spectators will be tracking the race live from around the globe, tuning in to the world’s best battling it out for the IRONMAN world title. Many athletes will be showcasing equipment launches, and developments as triathlon brands test out new innovations in the toughest single-day sporting event. Kona is now seen to be at the forefront of technology as companies compete in the search for speed.
Each year the men’s field becomes increasingly more competitive. In recent years we have seen a domination by the Germans, with Jan Frodeno, Sebastian Kienle and Patrick Lange taking the title, although these names (excluding Frodeno, who is out with injury) still remain among the favourites. Lionel Sanders (CAN) and David McNamee (GBR) present a real threat to disrupt the recent trend. The move of athletes from ITU to long course has arguably led to the explosion of talent onto the scene, with 2008’s Olympic Champion Jan Frodeno the biggest instigator. This year past ITU athletes include McNamee, Tim Don, Will Clarke, Ivan Tutukin and Javier Gomez among others. In 2017 we saw records smashed as athletes were pushed to their very limits and this year will be no different. Ex-professional cyclist Cameron Wurf (AUS) will be looking to better his bike record, and run course, the overall record holder Lange will be going head to head with McNamee and Gomez. HUUB’s interests lie with McNamee, Anthony Costes (FRA), Tyler Butterfield (BER) and Kevin Collington (USA).
WomenIf recent years are to go by, then we could see yet another annihilation by Daniela Ryf (SUI), if it is possible the Swiss athlete looks in even more formidable form. Earlier this year she flew around the IRONMAN European Championships in Frankfurt smashing the course record and finishing 7th overall beating many in the PRO men’s field. Ryf also won the 70.3 IRONMAN World Championships with Lucy Charles of Great Britain the only athlete able to stick with her on the bike. At 25 years old Lucy Charles is arguably a few years off her peak and having recently stated her intentions on qualification for Tokyo 2020 it’s clear someday the young British athlete may one day challenge Ryf in Kona, but perhaps 2018 may be too soon. Despite Ryf and Charles being overwhelming favourites, anything can happen at Kona. In 2017 pre-race favourite Frodeno was forced to walk for much of the run and only finished out of respect for the race. There will be a host of athletes poised to jump at any mistake made by the leading two, Sarah Crowley (AUS), Heather Jackson (USA), Sarah True (USA) and three-time champion Mirinda Carfrea (CAN) are just a few names to mention.