What does it take to get to get an age group qualifying spot for the Hawaii Ironman? This is a common question from athletes that signed up to be coached. I have answered the question many times but with Kona looming in a few weeks I decided to make it the topic of our eNewsletter. Having coached many Kona bound athletes and having qualified many times for this race myself I noticed some common traits among these athletes. Here is my list, the more of these you have the better you should feel about having a qualifying slot in your future.
1. Two of three strong sports. I have always said that if you want to be a successful professional triathlete you cannot have a weak sport. You need to have all three sports at a good level. For Kona age groupers, which in my opinion are the level right below professionals, you can get away with one weak sport and for most people this is the swim. Ultimately it does not matter which one is weak or perhaps you are in equal strength in all three but I see this as the general trend.
2. An amazing bike split. Over the years I have coached and met many Kona qualifying age groupers that basically just have an amazing bike split. By this I mean one that is significantly better than all in the age group and it is often at a PRO level for the younger age groups. For those weak on the swim this is the leg where they make&,amp,,nbsp,up time and a descent run wins the race for them.
3. An amazing run split. Having an elite level run is also the other way of qualifying. Once again many of these athletes in the younger age groups beat many of the professionals run splits. They can overcome huge deficits on hot and tough run conditions. I have coached many athletes who are miles behind off the bike and end up winning. They obviously have the aerobic engine and it is just a matter of training their swim and bike to be in striking distance off the bike.
4. Insatiable desire to train. This is true for most endurance sports and in triathletes with Kona dreams it should go without saying. This is perhaps borderline obsessive and it comes at the cost of many things. It is perhaps unhealthy. However, in this sport you get out what you put in. If you put in a lot and you manage to stay healthy and arrive to the start line you may have a good chance.
5. Proper racing weight. You will not see many Kona qualifying athletes that are not lean and ripped. This is also not a sign of health necessarily but to outlast the competition you do not want to carry unnecessary weight. This alone will not mean anything of course. You have to combine it with as many other traits from this list.
6. Patience. Endurance sports are about patience and those successful athletes tend to have a lot of it. Races are not won or lost until the last leg and then the last miles. All prior to that is simple preparation.
7. Experience. There are many things about this sport that are very hard to teach. They just need to be experienced and every race adds to this experience. It is very hard to be a beginner triathlete and qualify for Kona. But that is not to say it cannot be done. I have actually seen it and coached it. The key is they had many of the traits above.
I wish you the best of luck in your quest for Kona. See how you stack up on my list and if it does not sound very positive for you see how you can get closer and closer and make your own path. As the Ironman mantra says “Nothing is impossible”.