Ironman’s Parade of Nations on Tuesday to feature participants from more than 70 countries
October 10, 2023, 1:11 AM HST
Austrian Larissa Kragasich walked in the 2023 VinFast Ironman World Championship Parade of Nations last month in Nice, France, to support her husband who was competing in the men’s race.
But on Tuesday, in downtown Kona, she will be walking in the Parade of Nations as a competitor in the first Ironman championship race to feature only female athletes.
She said she’ll be dressed in red and white, the colors of her country, and walk proudly with the Austrian flag.
“Well, I think it’s a special thing to first of all, be at the World Championship, secondly complete a triathlon, and thirdly as a woman, because there are, especially in Europe, fewer women,” she said about the Ironman competition.
Kragasich will be among the more than 2,000 female triathletes who qualified for this year’s race from 70-plus countries. She and some of the other competitors will walk during the parade that starts at 5 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel and will travel along Ali‘i Drive, ending at Hale Hālāwai.
Diana Bertsch, senior vice president for Ironman World Championship Events, said she’s anticipating an exciting Parade of Nations this year to kick off the annual triathlon during one of its most “unique years” to date.
“We’re able to make history in Kona with celebrating our first-ever, women’s-only Ironman World Championship,” she said.
The annual Parade of Nations will include athletes, dignitaries, the CEO of the Ironman World Championship, Hawai‘i County Director of Research and Development Doug Adams, Kealakehe High School’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, and cultural drummers and dancers from Island Breeze.
The parade’s Grand Marshall is six-time world champion, Hall of Fame inductee Natascha Badmann. The 56-year-old, from Switzerland, won Ironman titles in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005.
Other walkers to look for this year include Julie Moss, a famous competitor who fell right before reaching the finish line and had to crawl her way to it.
“She really put Ironman on the map,” Bertsch said.
Bertsch, a former competitor who walked in previous Parade of Nations, loves to see the community embrace and welcome athletes from all over the world.
“On Tuesday, we’ll get to see them come together and march down the street as one,” she said.
Drew Wolff, Director of Operations of Ironman World Championship events, said this is his first time overseeing the Parade of Nations in Kona.
He said it’s a unique opportunity to host athletes from around the world and for the community to welcome them with open arms.
The community can share in their excitement and the journey they’ve experienced to reach this event, he said.
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