Oh Kona! You never disappoint!
Ironman's World championship races may have come and gone but the memories still live on. Santa Cruz Triathlon Association member Danielle McAnerney traveled to Kona for the 2022 World Championships. She and her husband, Dave, experienced the race's magic for the first time while cheering for professional athlete and top 5 women's finisher Lisa Norden in her Kona debut.
The two met Norden when they hosted the athlete during the 2018 Santa Cruz 70.3. SCTA regularly hosted (and still hosts!) professional athletes who come through to race in town.
Read about their experience cheering Norden on and what it was like to find feel the buzz around the world's best triathletes.
Ever since we hosted Lisa Norden (Professional Triathlete from Sweden) when she came to race the Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3 in 2018 we stayed in touch and watched as she shifted her racing to include full distance Ironman races. We hoped to see her race at the St. George World Championships in May of this year, but COVID got in the way of that trip.
When we heard she qualified for Kona based on her performance in St. George, we booked our tickets and started making plans. We were going to Kona to watch!
We have visited Kona for six years now but never been there during the world championships. It is hard to put into words the energy that was around Kona, but everywhere we went we wondered and asked questions like “Are you racing?”, “Where did you qualify?” and “What’s your story?”
The day before “race day” we met Lisa down at Ttansition where she gave us shirts from her sponsor so we could be a part of her cheering squad. For the day she was “our” pro. And what a day she had. Despite her 5 minute bike penalty she fought back for a solid 5th place finish at her first Kona appearance.
David and I felt fortunate that we got to steal a little more time from Lisa and her partner, Calle, the day after the race. David and I had talked to each other and wondered about so many things about Lisa’s race day.
It was wonderful to be able to ask her those questions in person. What was the moment like when she got the bike penalty? Was she laying down the hammer heading into Hawi because she knew she was going to the penalty tent and needed to close the gap? How did she keep her head in the race and what did her coach say? How was the heat? How was the run?
We could have kept talking to her for hours, but they had things to do! By then we were feeling like we had “had” our Kona experience. But after a day of reflection we got to watch it all again as the pro men and remaining male age-groupers had their day.
We left Kona with an abundance of respect for all the athletes that raced, the volunteers that made the event happen and the friends and families that traveled long distances to support their athlete. It is different than any other race purely based on the requirement that each athlete had to qualify.
So while we may never race Kona we participated in the experience and for us that was the next best thing!
Here are some of our photos we snapped from the trip!