I've been putting on triathlon camps for 12 years now. In tri years, that equates to 84 years. I've taught others how to run camps, and the key things to pay attention to (for example, as nice as receiving swag is, it's become quite evident that at the end of the camp, this is very low on the chain of what the attending athletes will remember when they are reevaluating their experience). The camps are hard work, yet I've enjoyed every one of them. And as excited as I have personally been to put on a camp in the past, this one that begins tomorrow is the one I've been waiting for.
I did my first ironman in 1996, and it was Hawaii. I had been racing mainly sprint and Olympic distance races for a few years and was having fun with this, yet I also just got married, started my own business and was looking into buying our first house. I figured my triathlon time was limited and that I wanted to, no, needed to do the one race that got me involved in the sport in the first place. I don't discuss Hawaii too much because I don't want to be one of those ass holes that brags about racing there and tosses out the cliche "its the Super Bowl of the sport". The fact is that there are many amazing ironman races around the world now, one less than a five hour drive from my door. But as amazing as these other ironman races are, the reality is that they are Bridesmaids. Most of the triathletes who say that the Hawaii ironman is over rated have never been there, and all those who say they have no desire to do it are lying, or maybe a bit scared or both.
Back to my race in 96'; The first five hours felt good and were actually fun. Then I spent the next four and a half hours swearing I'd never do something as awful and stupid as this race again, only to spend the last six minutes of the race thinking about how I was going to convince Lisa that we needed to come back again in 97'. There is no other finish line like it. The thing is that Lisa benefitted from the experience as much as I did, and the time we spent on that island pre and post race was amazing! Every time we went back to the race, we had a new and incredible experience, learning more about the island, the beaches, the hikes, the food, the ocean, the race.
The history of this sport all points at Hawaii. That is why the one race each year where you can count on all the best triathletes in the world going head to head with each other is simply described as Kona. And I also realize that many may never get the opportunity to race there.
As I sit here on this plane in the middle of the Pacific, I'm like a kid on Christmas eve. We have a fun group for the first Kona Camp consisting of those training and hoping to qualify to those who just want to go out and experience this amazing course. But what I'm really fired up about is showing this group this island that's been such a major part and has had such a big impact on my life. And if you are a triathlete, there really is no better training environment anywhere than on the Big Island (and no, this isn't up for debate).
I know I've been quite lame at blogging, but I do plan on updating our experience each day during this camp.