6. The most popular spot in Kona race week is definitely "dig me beach". It's not much of a beach actually and on high tide there is no beach but it's the swim start area at the Kailua Pier. When the sun comes up every day people come swim the course on their own. There will be buoys marking a somewhat accurate course. On race day they put many more buoys and straighten the thing out.
So do not worry.
You will not get lost on race day. But there are a few buoys if you are interested in doing the whole course. There are also a few paddlers out to guide you and help you should something happen. Swim with a friend or group is my suggestion. Test you kit as the salt water can really chafe your neck. I use Vaseline for this race.
7. Be kind to the locals and to their traditions. Ironman takes over this town. That is for sure. If you come to Kona outside of Ironman it's a very different place. So respect the locals, do not block the roads during your rides. An old training partner of mine that I did Kona with in 1992 introduced me to this ritual of asking Madam Pele for safe passage through the lava fields. See, Madam Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of the lava.
The lava fields where the bike course travels is considered her hair flowing from atop the volcano. We bought a post card with a picture of Madam Pele and a candle and did a little prayer ceremony and we asked for a safe day. I am not the most spiritual person in the world but showing a little respect for local tradition its always good and you never know. Madam Pele it's a good partner to have on your side.
8. My last point here is enjoy your race, trip and try to be happy regardless. Maybe you come back and maybe you don't. But this will be your personal history with this historic race. Soak it in and let it be what it will be. Control what you can and hopefully I will see you out there.
Click HERE for part 1.
Luis Vargas is the co-founder of MarkAllenOnline.com along with The Grip himself. Luis met Mark in 1990 in Boulder, Colorado and has a lot of incredible (if not painful) memories of training with him. Still living in Boulder Colorado with his wife Kelly, son Camilo and daughter Sofia, Luis plans to race once again this year. Stay tuned!