The 5 best tips if you ever get the chance to go to Kona as a competitor. Many of these can be used at any overseas event but some are specific to the big Island.
Get a hatchback hire car
Like many Hawaii towns, Kona sits on the coast but rises inland very quickly meaning it is built on the side of a hill. It is also spread out as far as supermarkets, bike shops, Expo, Accommodation etc. Yes, you can bike to each of these but it uses a lot of energy and stress if you forget something and have to go back. Sedan cars in the US also have a crash wall between the rear seats and boot (trunk). A bike or bike case will not fit in to the rear of a standard sedan but will even in to the smallest hatch. The airport is only a few minutes from town so 1 small cramped trip is worth an economy hatch.
Two people and two bikes fit in to this "Spark" Hire car
Get there early and buy before you train
If you get to Kona early (8 days or more before the event) you will beat the rush. Have a shopping list of requirements for the race that you could not bring with you and find/buy those products on the first two days. Many items (like pit-stop tyre inflator GU for example) run low towards the middle of race week so to save the stress, get them early! It will also help you acclimatise to the time zone and climate.
Get a Condo not a hotel
A condo allows you to cook at home, enjoy the space while setting up your gear, and use facilities like BBQ, pool and spa. Race week can be stressful and living in someone else’s pocket during this time will just add to the burden. The condo is best near but not in town. Being in-town can be great to get the hype of the event but may cause issues in getting rest and sleep.
Training is made easier with all of the items included in a condo
Get the right food
Hawaii imports almost all of their fresh produce as they cannot be grown on the island. This makes standard salad and vegetable items relatively expensive compared to the fast food outlets that are everywhere. If you buy from any of the supermarkets (for example “Safeway”), many have discount cards if you become a member (which is a 2 minute sign up)that are worthwhile for between 10 - 20% off. Check you groceries closely too as many items like bread will be VERY sweet compared to Australian products so it is worth checking. It may also take you longer on your first visit to find a product as they are often hidden in a different area to where you would expect of in different packaging. Embrace the difference in culture and don’t be stressed by the extra time to shop for what you want.
Limit the Celebration
Everywhere in the last week you will find Ironman giveaways and promotions. Many athletes get caught up in the hype and forget rest, training, nutrition and hydration. A simple training run along Alii Drive will include a dozen stands with anything from bonk breakers to Gatorade to GoPro and many will have giveaway products included. DON’T CHANGE YOUR DAY RACE SETUP AT THE LAST MINUTE BECAUSE OF THE PROMOTION. There may also be invites to events that can interrupt the training so be weary. These products are all great and add much to our sport but try to keep focus on the race.
Plenty of advertising around every corner