Historical post written by: Conan Gibney.
It seems to have been a year for tough conditions on the Ironman circuit and this years World Championships in Kona was no exception as the legendary winds gusted across the Queen K’ Highway and the temperatures soared into the high 30s to deliver some of the toughest race conditions on the Big Island in recent years.
Four clubs members; Pete Doubleday, Conan Gibney, Stu Anderson and Aaron Burby have been training all year for this race and the day had finally arrived. After just over an hour they all exited the water although there was a slight panic from fellow club members as no one could track Aaron due to an issue with his timing chip. Thank goodness for FoT supporters actually in Kona, they soon reassured us he was out on the bike! The conditions on the bike course were some of the worst experienced. Winds peaked at 35mph, that combined with the heat made for a gruelling days racing. No matter how aero you are, no one likes battling winds like that and there really is nowhere to hide on this course! Stu led the guys pushing a phenomenal pace and building a lead of 20 mins ahead of Pete, Aaron and Conan all separated by just a few minutes.
All the guys off the bike, just the marathon left. Unfortunately, Stu collapsed in T2, waking to find doctors around him, cooling him down with ice towels while they tried to get his blood pressure up. Astonishingly, after getting the nod from the doctors he decided he’d try and give the run a go. He wasn’t finished yet! Not only did he finish but he pulled off a 3:37 marathon. Amazing. Conan and Pete were also having their own body battles out on the marathon course. Like the bike route, this run is brutal beyond words. Conan, having paced his swim and bike legs to perfection, fighting the urge to go too crazy, he found his trusty running legs and did what he does best. He ran his heart out, clocking a 3.16 marathon and a sub 10 hour Kona Ironman (9:53). First FoT man home, a little sunburnt but a proud Irishman and a finishers medal to trump all others. Stu A, closely followed Conan in 10:09 (20 mins in T2 following his collapse and still he clocks an unbelievable time) and then came Pete 10:27. To quote the man himself, a seasoned Ironman “I had to resort to survival tactics on that run”. But what a result Pete, simply superb. Aaron was also finishing well, battling the conditions in great style, coming home in 11:07.
This is one of those events where simply finishing is impressive, yet as a club, we have 4 finishers and with phenomenal times. One recent article put it beautifully “The athletes get 17 hours to complete the 140.6-mile course, but bragging rights for the rest of their lives.” Enough said.