We're getting to that time of the year again. T minus 48 days and counting until the big dance in Kona, Hawaii as of August 27, 2016.
If this is your first time through the Ironman World Championship, welcome to the big show; you'll have a great time. If you're a repeat offender, congratulations on successfully managing your OCD! ;)
My perspective is that of an age grouper triathlete, a former competitor in the race, and a long time resident of Kailua town. My opinions are just mine and nothing else. I will try to keep an eye on the thread and answer the questions that you may have. I've made numerous changes to the guide as nothing ever stays the same. We're down one bike shop, the road is torn up in spots and we have water restrictions in place ‚Ä¶ all just in time for the 2017 Ironman World Championship on October14!
As always this is a collaborative effort. If you have comments about the posts or suggestions for those who haven't been here before, post away. I'll be glad to answer what I can and others will be able to chime in with different perspectives.
If you're an old pro at this race here's what you might want to know (in no particular order):
1. There are water restrictions in town. 5 of 13 wells are inoperative and will be until well after the race. Water use is limited to cooking, cleaning and hygiene. If you think the landscaping is getting crispy, you'd be right.
2. There is road construction on the Queen K. North bound traffic will transition to Makai side lanes prior to Kohana Iki and back to mauka lanes near the airport. This will likely result in run course changes for the race.
3. Lava Java has moved. It's just a couple of building further south. New and larger digs.
4. Cycle Station closed its doors earlier this year. If you need a bike shop your choices are VeloFix Hawaii (mobile bike shop) or one of the two Bike Works locations (brick and mortar).
A few Bits of Trivia
The town name is actually Kailua not Kona. This is why you'll often here long time locals call it Kailua Town or Kailua Village. The Post office name for this area is Kailua Kona. Every island has a Kailua and every island has a Waimea. The post office can only have one of those per state though. Kailua means two waters or two currents in Hawaiian. Waimea up north of Kailua town is called Kamuela by the Postal Service (Kamuela is Samuel in Hawaiian, after a prominent local when the post office named it). Waimea means reddish water. Kona refers to the Ahpua'a in this area. Those were pie shaped land divisions in old Hawaii. Oh and the island name is Hawaii not ‚Äúthe big island‚ÄĚ (my own personal pet peeve :P). Dig Me Beach has an actual name, it's neither Dig Me Beach nor Kamakahonu (that's on the other side of the pier btw), the beach real name is Kaiakeakua beach. That's ‚ÄúSea of the Gods‚ÄĚ in Hawaiian. Mauka? Makai? Mauka means mountain side and Makai means ocean side. We use that a lot in describing things and you'll see it throughout this post.
If you're a returning veteran of the 2016 race and are all prepped for the Dengue Fever scare, sorry we have an all new one! Rat Lungworm disease. This is a South-east Asian disease that came to Hawaii a few years ago. It's a nasty little disease that affects end hosts (us) and is a bit gruesome to describe even on Slowtwitch forums. Fortunately it's extremely rare. Basically it affects people who ingested ‚Äúinfected‚ÄĚ raw produce only. The actual rat lungworm slug is not the problem, it's the eggs laid on produce which cause problems. These eggs are small, the size of the periods in these sentences. A normal soaking of produce isn't sufficient. Each piece of lettuce and produce must be washed under a stream of water quite thoroughly. While the problems affects only an extremely small portion of state of Hawaii raw produce and odds are drastically against ingesting these things, it's best to be forewarned. Or buy bagged lettuce in the grocery stores. ;)
The area from Keauhou to north of the airport and from the ocean to above the upper Highway is under emergency water restrictions. Five of the thirteen wells providing fresh water to the area are out of service and normal water usage won't return until January 2018. Water use is limited to hygiene, cooking and cleaning only. This will result in some landscaping areas being rather crispy and probably some pools being less than full. Don't be surprised when you're not give a glass of water in the local restaurants and pay attention during the athlete briefing to any possible changes to showers in T1. If you're in a hotel room expect the hotels to ask for cooperation. If you're from California, you might market yourself as a water use specialist. ;)
October is peak temperature time in this part of Hawaii. Expect temperatures off the asphalt of the Queen K well into the 80's every day. Race day can be, and usually is, quite toasty. Riding and Running under a tropical sky on asphalt can be draining ‚Äď the 2009 race featured record 120F/48.9C temperatures on the Queen K at 3pm measured well above the pavement. Hydrate accordingly during your practice sessions and on race day.
Race day is also in one of our rainy seasons. We've been known to have extreme heat and extreme heavy rain all in the same day, though that's unusual. October is still within hurricane season for Hawaii, and although Hawaii island is generally protected by two very large mountains, they are possible. Those are what drive the worst weather of the season even though they're well offshore.
Normal Water Temperatures
Peak water temperatures occur in late August through mid-September. The water is quite nice right now. On race day the average temperature should be 77 ‚Äď 79 F/ 25 ‚Äď 26 C. The race is never wetsuit legal. The water temperature near the pier can vary wildly. There are numerous cold spots due to rain water percolating down from the mountains and then up into the bay near the pier. If we've had rain, the water can get rather cool along the pier due to the fresh water springs (two waters, remember?). There is another set of cold spots about the time you're abeam Hulihee palace and the last set near the Kona Inn. These cold spots are a good way to know just how close you are to finishing the swim. When you feel the first ones, you're abeam the Kona Inn. The second set means you have about 1/6 mile to go and then you'll be at the pier for the last sprint to shore.
After several years of absence the Kukio Blue water swim returned in 2016. There's a catch again this year though ‚Äď you'll have to arrive extra early again this year if you want to do this classic swim. It's being held on September 23 this year. The race begins with check-in at the closed to the public Kukio development, then a short walk to Kua bay followed by the 1.2 mile/1931 m swim to the public beach at Kukio. Event details can be found at http://www.kukioevents.com. The race is currently sold out but a wait list is available. Or just go swim at Hapuna if you're determined to swim in the ocean on that day somewhere other than off the pier.
The Ironman sponsored training swim will be held 1 week prior to the race on October 7. This swim starts at the pier follows the Ironman swim course but finishes on the Kamakahonu Bay side of the pier. The event is $35 USD plus Active.com's fees. You must register in advance. Details can be found on the Ironman World Championship website under race week events or:
In addition, there are numerous locals swimming up to Ironman week and sometimes during Ironman week. Groups leave after first light (6:15 or so), around 7 am and again around 8 am. Most will be glad to have someone else tag along. These are all informal groups and have swimmers of various speeds, abilities and distances. Just ask if you're there.
Don't forget to swim out to the coffee barge during race week, it's a tradition and a must do part of doing the race! The Coffee Barge is at various locations fairly close to the pier and serves up very small cups of local coffee to the swimmers. Give the cups back to the staff when finished.
The swim course setup usually begins on the Thursday prior to the race and is finished Friday afternoon. The folks at Jack's Diving Locker have been setting up the course for nearly the entire time the race has been held here and do a fabulous job. Most years there have been a few extra swim buoys set up a few weeks prior to race day to help guide the athletes in town.
If the additional buoys do not get set up for any reason you have the following guides. The swim lane is to the left of the buoy line as you face the water from the beach. Do Not swim to the right of those buoys. Boats come and go there ‚Äď you will get hurt. Beyond that if you keep sighting just to the right of the Royal Kona Hotel (the iconic ship like building south on the coast), you'll come abeam a flag pole near Hulihee Palace. The flag pole and back to the beach is approximately 1/3 mile. Continuing south while sighting just off the Royal Kona, the first swim buoy you'll come to is a round ¬Ĺ mile/800 m swim buoy. It's approximately abeam the third ‚ÄúN‚ÄĚ in the ocean facing ‚ÄúKona Inn‚ÄĚ painted on their roof. After that there's another round ¬ĺ mile buoy (all these are out and back distances), then there's the 1500m pencil buoy followed by the King's Buoy (the 1.2 mile turn buoy) abeam the Royal Kona. From there sight on a spit of land to the far south and follow a straight line. The next buoy is the Ironman Turn.
If you're not fortunate enough to be able to swim in open water on a routine basis, please use the week leading up to the race to get familiar with the ocean and it's currents. There will be a current on race day. Sometimes pushing you south, sometimes pushing you north. If there is surf near the pier race morning, try not to pay much mind to it. The swim will smooth out beyond the pier.
The beach where the race starts is often called ‚ÄúDig-Me beach.‚ÄĚ It has a proper name though. Kaiakeakua Beach (Sea of the gods). Kamakahonu beach (Eye of the turtle) is on the other side of the pier.
Other Swim Locales
Hapuna Beach State Park, north of the resorts (30 miles or so from town) is one of the nicest beaches on the west side of the island. From the south end of the beach to the landing at the Hapuna Prince at the north end is approximately ¬Ĺ mile/800 m. This is the where the swim and bike start for ‚ÄúHonu‚ÄĚ aka Ironman 70.3 Hawaii is held every year. It's a protected bay and away from the hustle and bustle of Kailua town during Ironman week. It's also a popular swim and beach spot so get there early.
Aneahoomalu Bay, or ‚ÄúA-Bay‚ÄĚ is the beach and bay behind the hotels at the Waikoloa Resorts. It's usually a bit murkier than Hapuna or the pier but is convenient if you're staying up there. This is also where the Lavaman Olympic length Triathlon occurs every spring.
Kona Aquatic Center. The county pool is located on Kuakini Highway. The pool is normal split into two sections both have 25 YARD lanes. It generally opens at 6:15 on weekdays, closes for lunch, and then closes at 7:15 pm. Weekend hours are 8:15 am to 4:45 pm with time off for lunch. This is a busy time of the year at the pool, you will have to share lanes. Cost is free (you're welcome). Go swim in the ocean, you're going to have to anyway. ;)
There is another 4 lane pool at ‚ÄúThe Club.‚ÄĚ This is a private fitness center and to gain access you'll have to pay for a multi or single day pass. Again it gets busy in there this time of the year. It's also a 25 yard pool.
Road Info (updates)
It's still road construction time on the Queen K! Highway construction was supposed to be completed well before this year's race. Shortly after last year's race it was discovered that the new highway design and construction had penetrated registered historic trails at at least two locations. A redesign was necessary and construction was halted for around 6 months. All that means that the roads are still not finished, they probably won't be done for the 2018 race (prove me wrong Hawaii DOT!) either. To compound matters part of the old Queen K was closed and northbound traffic was rerouted onto the new makai lanes earlier this week.
The new road shift has northbound traffic crossing over at Kohanaiki (Matsuyama's on the Queen K) onto the most mauka of the two new makai lanes. Traffic returns to the old lanes somewhere around the airport. This will affect the run course in particular and has the potential to impact the bike course. If you're a returning veteran please pay attention to the run and bike course briefings or watch the Ironman website for potential updates.
The choke points for bicycle rides during your training haven't changed much over the past few years. Most locals ride from the county pool or soccer fields up Makala (past where the Target store is and the Sports Authority shop was) and onto the Queen K. That little section there has been the among the worst areas for accidents. People aren't expecting cyclists (go figure) and some are rather resentful of the whole Ironman time of the year. Stay out of aero position until you're safely on the highway shoulders.
Heading North bound on the highway your first danger area is the turn to the refuse Transfer Station and Police station. Cars will be merging into the right turn lane and the bike lane is on the left side of that lane. Sit up. After that you have Kealakehe Pkwy (opposite the harbor) which is the turn to the local high school and Civic Center. From there you have a short ride to the turn by the Tesoro Station. There are two ways to handle this short set of streets; some folks go onto the shoulder after the harbor and then back to the left side where the Tesoro turn is. That's what the sign says you to should do as you pass Kealakehe. Others think more accidents happen crossing traffic and just stay on the left side of the right turn lane the whole way and let the cars that are impatient pass them off to the right. If you're in a group of riders do what the guy up front does. Don't split the group left and right as you'll end up tempting cars to go between you -- and they will.
If you're in a group, please be sensible and ride no more than two abreast (Hawaii law actually requires single file but that's another story), don't bunch up and creep out onto the highway -- you will get hurt.
After the airport you're fairly clear until the resorts. Some distances:
Pool - Veteran's Cemetery/Kua Bay-Pu'u Kuil'i (Bum Crack Hill for the Aussies): 12 miles each way.
Pool- Scenic Overlook (This is barely on the descent to the resorts): 18 miles each way.
Pool - Waikoloa Resorts: Just under 50 miles round trip depending on how far you go into the resorts.
Pool - Kawaihae: This is a bit under 80 miles round trip.
Returning south bound the major areas of conflict with traffic are the road to the Mauna Lani, the Road to the Waikoloa Resorts, Kua Bay and more importantly the south Entrance to Kekahakai St park (Makalawena). Cars aren't expecting you at that entrance, and it's a nice down hill where you'll likely be zipping along in aero. After that the Airport Rd is really bad as it has a protected acceleration lane for the south bound Queen K that you need to cross and cars will not look. Then the harbor. The area approaching the harbor is still under construction, the bike lane has been squeezed a bit at various times this year. Be careful in that area. Once you make the turn onto Makala from the south bound Queen K, you'll be in the shopping area; sit up and use it as a cool down. Please.
The Queen K bike lanes in town which we often called the ‚Äúsuicide lanes‚ÄĚ are gone. They've been moved next to the curb where they belonged. Keep in mind that if you go that route you will still have to cross traffic turning right into a protected acceleration lane at Makala, Kaiwi, Palani and Henry Street. The lanes end at Henry. By the way, the sidewalk in the area between Makala and Henry St. is a multi-use path. You can always bicycle there.
There is a bike lane on Kukakini between Palani Road and Kaiwi (That's the 4 way stop sign). These lanes were carved out of the traffic lane width, there was no expansion of real estate. Keep it single file through there and try not to creep towards the edge.
If you're heading down to Ali`i Drive beware there's no shoulder on Ali'i until you're around the Royal Kona or so. Also watch for runners when you're on the shoulder of Ali`i Drive. Oh and just for reference I've been trying to get a speeding ticket on my bike heading into town (Northbound on Ali'i heading down the hill by the Royal Kona) for years with no success. If you get one let me know!
Finally, watch out for glass. There are a few locals who think it's funny to trash the shoulders prior to Ironman. The roads do get cleaned before everyone arrives and also for the race. But there will be glass and wire from shredded truck tires.
Most of the runners in town have itband issues due to the shape of our roads. If we always face traffic the same leg is always high. For that reason and others, most of us run on the makai (ocean) side of the roads regardless of direction. Please be aware of it. Also the makai side has somewhat fewer vehicles entering the road not looking for pedestrians and cyclists than the mauka (mountain) side. While we do have wide shoulders on the Queen K, those on Alii Drive aren't quite as wide. I've seen people running 4 and 5 abreast along Ali`i Drive. The shoulders can fit 2 abreast. Please don't force your fellow runners out onto the road even if you're running facing traffic and they're not. Some of us will run right through you, your family and kids rather than get hit by a car.
Also, keep in mind that those that live and work here really don't care why you're in town. Most admire your dedication and ability, but frankly if you're running between cars stopped at a stop light, they don't care why you're doing that. You're slowing them down or they might not see you and then you get hit. You've worked far too hard to get here to have it end from a bit of impatience at waiting for the walk sign at a controlled intersection.
Soft running surfaces: usually that's the ball fields next to the county pool. Soccer and baseball. After that the local high school track is occasionally available but only well after school is out for the day and when there are no other activities.
Refueling During Training
If you're here early and planning on getting that last longish run and bike ride in you'll want to know where you can resupply for your run and bikes. For the swim: there's the coffee barge. ;)
The easiest is running. If you're focusing on Ali'i drive there are a lot of places in town if that's your turn around. ABC Stores (convenience stores), Kona Town Market (mini store) etc. As you head south towards Keauhou things thin out. There's a liquor/convenience store at Casa de Emdeco about 3 miles south. After that down near Lyman's surf spot there are a couple of places to get something, the Poke Shop and the convenience store on the mauka side. In Keauhou there's the shopping center. Running long on the highway? Plan ahead. Leaving town there's the harbor shops but that's a mile plus round trip detour. The Matsumaya's on the highway past the Costco turn plus the convenience store there at the new gas station.
Biking: Leaving town north, it's Matsuyama's. They're bike unfriendly there though. No bikes in the store. I've never had trouble leaving my bike out front but keep an eye on it. there's also the convenience store at the gas station there. After that it's the resorts. 24 miles or so. At the Waikoloa resorts there are the Queen's shops including a large semi convenience store. After that it's the Shops at the Mauna Lani including a small Foodland run grocery store. beyond that you pickings are slim. The gas station in Kawaihae is the only spot between the Mauna Lani and Hawi town for refueling. If you're desperate there are public parks and beaches that have running water (though not all do). I've dropped into Spencer's Beach in Kawaihae for example when I found myself dry and without $ (poor preflight check on my part). Up in Hawi town there are a lot of places. Many are bike friendly (enough). The grocery store is off the main drag, ride through town then turn right as if you're heading out of town towards Waimea. The store will be on the left side shortly afterwards.
BTW, gas stations are scare on the way to Hawi. In town or those on the way out of town. The resorts at Waikoloa. Waikoloa Village, Kawaihae.
Spectating the Race
Swim: Getting prime real estate for watching the swim means a very early start. If you want to see the cannon blast the absolute best spot for that is across from the fish tower that is on the pier. That means along the seawall on Alii Drive and the little beach near Hulihee Palace. If the Palace grounds are open to the public that's a good spot as well. Next is the Kona Inn grounds at that point the swimmers will be at the 1/4 mile mark and at just over 2 miles on the return. beyond that there's Daylight Mind's upper floor, though they often charge a premium for that. Or if you have loads of money to spend, there's always the WTC VIP passes. There's also Bubba Gump's which is often open for breakfast during the race. If you're staying at the Royal Kona, the seawall side gives you a view of the King's Buoy area it's at the 1/4 mark in the swim. The swimmers are half way to the turn around when they're abeam the hotel and halfway back to the shore on the return.
1. The "hot corner". Palani Road and Kuakini you'll see the cyclists 4 times; exiting T1, returning from the highway on the in town loop descending Palani Rd, returning from the in town turn around and heading up Palani for the long ride and on the way in to T2 from Kuakini.
2. If you know what they look like on the bike another spot you might see them is at the "Costco" aid station. This is Hina Lani Rd. To get there from Keauhou and in town, head north on the Queen K to Henry Street, turn right on Henry, stay on that (the mid level road) until it ends, Make a left turn and head down that as far as you can. Park and walk the rest of the way.
3. Hawi Turn around. this is above and beyond as it requires a lot of driving. You need to get on the upper highway, the Mamalahoa Highway (Go up Henry St to the stoplight past Safeway and turn right). Follow the Mamalahoa (State Route 190 btw) all the way to Waimea (1 hour or more). Make a left turn at the end followed shortly by a right turn onto Kohala Mountain Rd (State Route 250). Follow that to Hawi. Make a left, find a place to park and walk to the bike turn around. This will take many hours.
4. Shorter version of the above. Go see the racers near the resorts. Follow the direction as above, except after you pass the Daniel K. Inoyue Highway (new saddle road) you'll come to Waikoloa Village road. Turn left. Follow that as far as you can. Park well clear of the road and carefully walk to the Queen K. The riders will be flying at this point on the way outbound.
5. In town Turn Around. The turn around is on Kuakini. To get there from in town: make your way to the Queen K. Headed south from town continue down to the Kuakini turn. Turn right and follow that towards the road block. Park and walk. From Keauhou, head north on the Queen K and make a left.
In town works well anywhere along Ali'i drive. The Old Hot corner (Hualalai and Alii) is a good spot as the runners pass there 3 times (Outbound from T2, outbound to the highway at mile 10 or so, and inbound to the finish) . You can also get to the Alii Drive turn around by heading to Keahou and getting onto Alii near the Keauhou shopping center. Follow that just away (1 mile or so). Find a place to park and walk to the barrier. Also you can get to the Energy Lab if you're ambitious. Upper Highway again except come down Kaiminani as if you're headed to the airport. Find a place to park and walk a mile or so south (seriously, it's not easy).
Some Running Distances
Pier to ‚ÄúOutrigger‚ÄĚ Keauhou Crosswalk (just past the Ali`i Drive run turn around): 5 miles (The Outrigger hotel has been closed for a couple of years but the building is still there).
Pier to the harbor entrance to (via Makala): Just under 3 miles
Pier to the Airport: 7 miles
Pier to the Energy Lab: 6 miles.
The climb to Hawi. This starts at Mahukona and finishes just before you enter Hawi town. Yes, you descend to the bike turn around and climb out of Hawi. The Hawi climb from Mahukona is not an incredibly steep climb, but it is long. 7 miles of non-stop climbing at around mile 60 on the ride. It's steep enough and long enough that the few spots where the slope decreases a bit feel flat. They're not. By way of comparison, both Richter Pass at Penticton and Cougar Gulch in Coeur d'Alene are steeper.
This is also where most riders get their full realization of the wind for the first time. You've been riding in it for quite a few miles but usually as a cross wind (this is why disc wheels are not allowed). Now it's a full on headwind for 7 miles. Payback time: The rocket sled back to MahuKona. Enjoy it. I hit 51 mph/82 kph there during the 2014 race.
My personal hell section of the bike course is the climb from Kawaihae to Kawaihae Junction. It's hot, there's never a breath of wind, it's steep and you can see Bum Crack hill (Pu'u Kuil'i) in the far distance knowing you have to bike past that point. Fortunately it's also fairly short. (1 mile). Personally I'd rather climb the 7 miles to Hawi than do this climb.
The last climbs: The climb from the resorts to scenic overlook is the last long climb of the race. When you pass the overlook you have about 20 miles to T2. The last climb that matters is the climb from Kukio to Kua Bay/Veteran's cemetery (mile 99). It's steep but only a mile long. When you hit the top you are at mile 100 on the bike ride.
The Energy Lab: Signs will likely be up prohibiting bikes from being in there by the time you arrive. If they're not, don't ride in there anyway. There is no shoulder, cars drive very fast and there is a lot of traffic from the businesses and charter school. People have been hit and seriously hurt riding bikes along that road.
If this is your first trip to the world championship you owe it to yourself to go visit the energy lab. Drive to the bottom and take a look back up to the highway. The road isn't quite as steep as it looks. It's an optical illusion caused by the slope of the hills on the mauka (mountain) side of the highway that makes you think it's god awful steep. The illusion is strongest at night. It's far from flat though.
When you exit the Energy lab on the run you have exactly 11K to the finish.
Chicken Soup: If you're a MOP or later runner, the high sodium lukewarm chicken soup is found at every run aid station out on the highway beginning in the late afternoon. It can be a godsend if you're behind on your electrolytes. You can thank the aide station director for keeping all this stuff straight. :)
After dark Finishers: If you think you might be an after dark finisher (is there any other type?). The course can be a bit confusing to people at the 139 mile point. Once you turn at the hot corner from Palani Rd onto Kukaini it's one mile to the finish line. Turn right at Hualalai Rd. That's in front of the Union 76 gas station. The course is marked but often we have tunnel vision. From there follow it to the end and make the right turn onto Alii Drive. You're 800 meters from the finish now.
Those last 800 meters always made the rest of the pain worth it for me. Enjoy every step of it.
Body marking is done behind the King Kam hotel. Signs will direct you. You'll also have a couple of places to drop off your special needs bags. From there it's off to your bike and the wait.
The owners of Unision, Ron and Capi, open their shop up very early race morning (by 5 am). If you find yourself sans goggles or anything else you have to have, Ron will likely have it. If you're short on cash, because you're in race gear, leave your name and race number with Ron and pay him back later. Ron is also a 4 time IMWC finisher. They're located in the Banyan shops very near the pier.
The road isn't truly closed during the race. If you're MOP or later don't be shocked to see a bus near you. They're shuttling volunteers. There is also limited road traffic early during the bike race as some areas are land locked from the race, these are usually workers at Kukhio and they should steer clear of the cyclists. Oh and watch out for the camera crews, we all know they don't always miss the cyclists! Also if you're in the back 1/3 of the cyclists (been there, done that), the police will start forcing cyclists over to the shoulder around Waikoloa Road until Waikoloa Beach Road (the resorts). You're supposed to be able to use the highway but it happens every year. They will also let traffic head southbound onto the highway from the resorts as well. Again be careful as the drivers south of the resorts will be speeding well in excess of 70 because the highway is "empty."
Keep in mind that the staggered swim wave starts means your cutoff time is not midnight.
There is only a single brick and mortar bike shop in town this year: Bike Works. Cycle Station closed after the Lavaman Triathlon in April. Bike Works carries Cervelo and Specialized but will work on anything with two wheels ‚Äď well maybe not Penny-Farthings (and if you're riding that at the race you will be in the highlights!). If you're staying out near the Waikoloa Resorts you might want to check in with Bike Works Beach and Sport, they're located in the Queen's Shops.
Your other alternative bike shop is VeloFix Hawaii. Velofix will come to you in his big red van. It's the mobile bike shop.
Bike Works: 808-326-2453
Bike Works Beach & Sport: 808-886-5000
Velofix Hawaii: 808-785-5159 or http://www.velofix.com/locations/kona/
Both Bike Works and Velofix have rental bike fleets if you're in need or have a family member that wants to ride while here. Tri, road and mountain bikes.
Btw, if you're friends with Oliver of Cycle Station, he is alive and well and simply decided to focus his energy on his other businesses. If you want to know where he can be found (during the work day in Kona) drop me a pm.
If you're not using the airlines to ship your bike to Kona for the race, or don't want to, you do have alternatives now. In addition to the usual bike shipping companies and Ironman partners you can also use VeloFix's V.I.B. Kona Service.
If you sign up for VIB Kona service, Velofix will pick up and box your bike and then ship it off to your Kona destination via Bikeflights.com. On the Kona end Velofix Hawaii will unpack the bike and get it race ready for you and the big dance. After the race, the process is reversed. Easy bike travel. If you're interested, make inquiries or book online with Velofix or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
The Rudy Project Store
If you were a fan of browsing the only Rudy Project retail store in the world and chatting with local artist, avid cyclist and Team Mango Races Head Honcho Carl Kooma, sorry you're out of luck. Apparently The Rudy Project decided that one retail shop was one too many and closed it last year. If you enjoyed Carl Kooma's art work and conversation, you'll still find him in town from time to time and perhaps even at the Rudy Project booth.
If you're looking for an A.R.T. Chiropractor (Active Release Technique) while in town for the race there are at least two that i know of. All deal with athletes of various abilities (from beginner to ultra elite pro's) on a regular basis. While they can do your standard adjustments if you're inclined, that is not the focus of their work. ART deals with soft tissue rather than the skeletal structure. Many find it valuable to help get things firing again.
Makai Chiropractic is in old industrial on the same road as Bike Works. They're the building closest to Palani rd if that makes sense visually. They have two ART chiropractors. 808-329-7900.
Odin Wilmott. Odin was ART trained though he no longer maintains his affiliation with ART. He will also come to you, bringing everything he needs for your session. 808-443-4097.
KTA: Is a local chain. They have locations on Palani Rd and in the Keauhou Shopping center. They carry grass fed beef (labeled as such) and have the better selection of local produce.
Safeway: On Henry Street. The also carry grass fed beef, it's labeled that way. They also are one of the stores in the state that carry the Paniolo brand beef. That is grass fed Parker Ranch beef.
Sac-N-Save: In the shopping center with Longs.
Island Naturals: In old industrial on Kaiwi. It's the only Natural Food store in the town.
Kona Town Market: This a new shop near the downtown area. It's on lower Walua Rd up near Kuakini Highway in town. If you're familiar with the Royal Kona resort, the road which heads mauka on the diagonal off Alii Drive near there is lower Walua Rd. They have a good selection of healthy items in stock and not too far of a walk if you're near that end of town. 75-5909 Walua Rd.
Coffee Shops Near Pier
Menehune right by the pier in the King Kam. They will be open for 24 hours on race day.
Kona Coffee and Tea. On Palani in the old Starbucks. Bike Friendly.
Starbucks: Two locations. One is a drive through the other might as well be. Henry and Kuakini and the other on Henry St across from Safeway. There's also a Starbucks in the Queen's Shops at the Waikoloa resorts. There's also a Starbuck's inside Safeway.
San Francisco Coffee Company: On Ali'i Drive. Yes, they have loads of Kona coffee
Lava Java: Enough said. It's the stop during Ironman. It will be busy. Oh and don't panic if you go to their old location and don't see them, they moved three buildings south of there to larger and better quarters. They'll still be busy though.
Hugo's on the Rocks: on the ocean side of Alii across from the Coconut Grove Marketplace.
Kopelani: On Ali`i Drive across from Hulihee Palace.
There are a lot of restaurants in town. Some are even good. The best restaurant though is someone's house. :P
Lava Java: If you're a returning veteran do not panic, they did not close. They just moved three buildings south on Ali`i Drive into larger quarters. They're now in a two story open air spot with even better views. For some this the iconic stop for the race. Down in the Coconut Grove Marketplace across from the water.
Kona Inn: Full service restaurant and bar. Seafood, beef and everything in between. Their Thai lemongrass soup is no longer served though.
Krua: Good thai food up on Kuakini by Henry Street.
Jackie Rey's: Down Kuakini towards the in town bike turn around. More locals there but you will need a reservation.
Haluakoa Inn: Nice food up in Holualoa.
Volcano House: In Volcano National park.
Kilauea Lodge: Volcano Village near Kilauea.
Intro scuba dive. Jack's Diving Locker, Kona Honu, Big Island Divers. Too many to mention them all. No traveling to altitude (above 2000 ft) after diving though.
If you're a diver and want to see the majestic manta's, a night manta dive or snorkel is a great way to see these amazing creatures. I've only done the night dive with Jack's so I can't comment on anyone else.
Kona Coffee farm tours: Greenwell farms in south Kona runs a great tour and has free (brewed) samples. Royal Kona much further south often has tours that can be fun when they're drying or processing coffee cherry. The Kona Coffee Living History Farm is a working 1940's coffee farm down near the Greenwell Farm, call ahead for hours.
Hawi Town: It's not just the bike turnaround. It's been discovered though so it's a lot more touristy than it used to be.
Volcano National Park (Kilauea). Lava is still flowing into the sea and there are several breakouts visible. There is over land access. Just be careful and carry water and don't wear flip flops for walking there. There is a lava-boat-tour that leaves from Hilo several times a day for viewing the entry. I've only seen pictures: http://www.seelava.com/...ours/lava-boat-tour/
As for the IMWC 2017, it will be windy, it will be hot. You will be miserable. You will have fun and it's something you'll never forget ‚Äď whether or not Mike says the magic words for you. Be safe while you're here both before and during the race, race hard and above all have fun.
Edit (8/31): Added Spectating and refueling info.
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. -- A fake Albert Einstein "quote"