By CAROLYN LUCAS-ZENK
Stephens Media Hawaii
The Ironman World Championship is not just about endurance racing. It’s a legendary and inspiring sporting event that motivates and encourages people of all ages.
More than 2,000 triathletes from around the world will embark on the grueling 140.6-mile journey Saturday, when they’ll be presented the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit. Each competitor dreams of crossing the festive finish line and hearing four satisfying words: “You are an Ironman.”
Besides showcasing pure athletic competition and incredible human perseverance, this event often brings a festive atmosphere to Kailua-Kona, where there are plenty of activities for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Kicking off “Ironman week” is a family friendly 5K and 10K run that benefits Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii.
The grassroots nonprofit public access advocacy organization’s mission is to safely connect people and places on Hawaii Island with pathways and bikeways. PATH was founded in 1986 in response to a growing need for places to walk, bike and hike safely and legally on the island. According to PATH’s website, trails, pathways and bikeways stitch our community together into a healthy, equitable and sustainable tapestry of life in Hawaii.
The run starts at 7:30 a.m. today at Hale Halawai on Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona.
On Tuesday, a biathlon will get children moving in a fun way. The Keiki Dip-n-Dash begins at 4 p.m. at Kailua Pier. It’s organized by Ironkids, which strives “to inspire and motivate youth through the sport to lead an active, positive and healthy lifestyle.”
There are two options: the short course, a 50-yard swim and 0.25-mile run, and the long course, a 150-yard swim and 0.9-mile run. All participants will receive body markings. Finishers will be rewarded with medals and snacks at the finish line.
There are no age group divisions or timing. Relays and baby joggers are prohibited. However, adults on foot may accompany their young competitors if needed.
Registration will take place from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the race office or at 3 p.m. at the pier. Parents must sign a waiver and purchase a nonrefundable one-day USA Triathlon license of $10 or show a valid USA Triathlon membership card for each participating child. For more information, visit ironman.com.
Following the Keiki Dip-n-Dash, triathletes from dozens of countries will march along Alii Drive, from Kailua Pier to Hale Halawai, during the annual Ironman Parade of Nations. The colorful parade starts at 5 p.m. and participants should assemble an hour before.
Hundreds of people will strip down to their tighty whities Thursday and participate in a briefs race — the Underpants Run.
The 1.2-mile run begins at 8 a.m. at Pacific Vibrations on Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona. Participants will go from the surf shop to the pier and back.
This popular event began in 1998 as a protest against Ironman competitors appearing in public places without proper clothing.
Besides being highly entertaining, the run has raised money for numerous local organizations. This year’s event supports the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii and Ahuena Heiau Inc.
VASH helps Big Island visitors cope with and recover from unfortunate situations, such as crime victimization, the loss of a purse or wallet, medical situations and the death of a loved one.
Located at Kamakahonu Bay, Ahuena Heiau is a religious temple that served Kamehameha the Great and was a center of political power in the Hawaiian kingdom. Ahuena Heiau Inc. is a community-based committee that restores and maintains this important historic site.
To learn more, go to underpantsrun.org.
Email Carolyn Lucas-Zenk at email@example.com.