Kona: The Course

Of all the competition each athlete will face at October’s Ironman World Championships, none will be so utterly indefatigable as the island itself. There’s a reason the World Championship remains on the shores where Ironman moved to in 1981 [the first three events took place in Oahu, Hawaii].


With its brutal heat, pummelling winds and gruelling hills, Kona is a place where anything can happen – and usually does. From Julie Moss to Paula Newby-Fraser and Normann Stadler, many an athlete has been forced into a crawl or a DNF on the course, giving rise to unexpected shake-ups in the top ranks.

There’s still no distinct landmark that ‘tells the tale’ better than the finish line itself. But there are key landmarks you can look at for progress along the way…  

The swim and T1

There may be more riding on the swim than ever before. After Normann Stadler won with a crushing cycling performance in 2004, the prevailing strategy was to establish a lead in the lava fields and then ‘hold on’ through the marathon. But the trend in recent years has shown the über-bikers having to overcome gaps incurred on the swim before creating their lead for the run.

As close as the men’s race portends to be, the amount of time taken in transition could make a crucial difference in the early positions on the bike.

Bike Course