More than 5,000 triathletes will tackle the 140.6 mile-course for the 2022 VinFast Ironman World Championship during races on Thursday and Saturday.
This year, organizers have modified portions of the bike and run courses from previous races in Kona to better optimize community traffic flow and involvement.
The triathletes will use the southbound lanes of the Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway from Palani Road to Kaiminani Parkway for both the bike and the run course, while the northbound lanes will be open to public traffic. For more information for motorists, click here.
The modifications also will provide spectators with a better opportunity to view the professional triathletes with their transition area moved off the Kailua Pier to a new location on Aliʻi Drive that is close to the finish line.
So where is the best place to watch the race?
Here is the lowdown on the course:
THE SWIM: The swim course is a 2.4-mile elongated rectangle. It stars on the east side of the Kailua Pier, goes approximately 1.2 miles out to sea, takes a sharp right for about 100 yards and then returns to the pier.
Athletes must swim in a clockwise direction, keeping all race buoys on their right at all times and swim around boats or buoys at the end of the course.
The start line is an imaginary line between a fixed location on the pier and a buoy or race marker opposite this location. It is approximately 130 yards from shore.
There will be 13 swim wave starts on Thursday and seven wave starts on Sunday. The first waves of each race start at 7 a.m.
The water temperature is expected to range between 79.5 and 80.1 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Although there is usually no surf, swimmers should be prepared to encounter small swells parallel to the course and surges at the swim exit. Wind chop does not usually occur early in the morning. Currents vary, although they are usually in a northerly direction, which goes in the same direction as the swimmers on the return portion of the swim.
Swimmers are warned that the rocks and sides of the Kailua Pier have sea urchins and sharp marine growth on them.
The swim cutoff time is 2 hours and 20 minutes.
After the swim, the triathletes are directed across a timing mat and to the showers to rinse off the saltwater. Next, they obtain their bike transition bags and go to the bike racks.
THE BIKE: The 112.3-mile bike course has been called “challenging” and “inspiring.” It is an out-and-back route that starts on Palani Drive in front of Ali’i Adventures and goes north along the Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway and through the lava fields to Hawi, the turnaround point, and back to Kona.
The route that follows the coast has rolling terrain with several 1/4- to 1-mile hills with a maximum grade at 6.3% and a total elevation gain of 5,814 feet. There can be winds, which are notorious on the bike course. Crosswinds are so much of a factor that disc wheels are not allowed.
There are nine bike aid stations.
THE RUN: The 26.2-mile run, a marathon, begins in the transition area by the Kailua Pier. It is an out-and-back course that goes south with a turnaround before Pahoehoe Beach Park. Runners return to the race’s finish line at xxx.
The route is rolling with brief steep sections scattered throughout and with a total elevation gain of 1,144 feet. There are 18 run aid stations.