Ask any long distance triathlete about their goals in the sport and there’s only one answer – to race Kona. It’s the toughest Ironman course and the winner in Hawaii definitely earns their title of Ironman World Champion. Before the athletes jet off, we chat about their past experiences of Kona.

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Interview by Alexandra Gason >> photography by Delly Carr

What’s special about racing Kona?

I don’t have a wealth of experience, but each course is challenging and special in its own way. Kona is iconic. It is the place where the very best long distance triathletes meet and fight for the World Ironman Championship crown – the most important title in our sport. The Kona course itself is not especially difficult, however the conditions – the heat and the wind – are what makes it one of the most challenging places to race anywhere in the world. But that is what it is all about, and that’s what excites me!

What do you rate as being the best ever performance in Kona’s history?

There are two – Jon Blais and Scott Rigsby. Both defied all odds to cross the finish line.

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What’s it like as reigning champ?

My preparation has been good. All the hard work is done, the last month is just putting the finishing touches to the machine! As reigning champ, I coped with the additional pressure and expectation last year and this year is no different. The Hawaii crown is only as heavy as you let it be. I try and keep everything in perspective and remember how I approached the race two years ago – as a naïve rookie who didn’t know anything. I am confident and feel strong. I trust in my mind, body and the preparation I have done. I know the course, I know what it takes to win – and most importantly I KNOW how it feels to win. I have the target on my back, and instead of letting it crush me I thrive on it and will enjoy every moment of defending the crown!

Do you have a lucky charm or ritual for the race?

I read Rudyard Kiplings poem, ‘If’ and eat, eat, eat, train, rest and eat some more!

What are your best and worst experiences of racing Kona? The best are the opportunity to race against the best endurance athletes in the world on one of the most famous and challenging courses; crossing the finish line in first place and being greeted by friends and family; the awesome food and (alcoholic) beverages on offer afterwards and most of all the finish line at midnight! The worst – the port-a-loos before the start, chaffing, sweating, bad tan lines and the post race hangover!

Chrissie has help set up GoTribal, the organisation designed to help more women and girls get involved in triathlon. see www.gotribalnow.com

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