40 years of Kona

Ask any triathlete what their ultimate goal in the sport is and you will most likely hear the answer “qualify for Kona”. This year the legendary race celebrates its 40th year and its set to be a cracker of a race.


In its humble beginnings 15 athletes set out to settle the long running debate of who were the more dominant, fitter and faster athletes - swimmers, riders or runners. John and Judy Collins spear headed the event dreaming up the combination of a swim, bike and run event to challenge the best endurance athletes at the time. This resulted in the inaugural Hawaiian IRONMAN Triathlon being born. The athletes were to combine the 3 toughest endurance races in Hawaii he 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112 miles of the Around-O'ahu Bike Race and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon-into one event. On the shores of Oahu, Hawaii, the athletes set out to complete what everyone thought would be the impossible with three simple instructions, swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. Of the 15 athletes, 12 finished including John Collins. The winner, Gordon Haller, finished in 11 hours, 46 minutes and 58 seconds.

Original IRONMAN Finishers:

  1. Gordon Haller              11:46:40
  2. John Dunbar                12:20:27
  3. Dave Orlowski              13:59:13
  4. Ian D. Emberson          14:03:25
  5. Sterling F. Lewis          14:04:35
  6. Tom Knoll                    14:45:11
  7. Henry Forrest               15:30:14
  8. Frank Day                    16:38:31
  9. John Collins                 17:00:38
  10. Archie Hapai                17:24:22
  11. Dan Hendrickson          20:03:28
  12. 12. Harold Irving            21:00:38

The following year saw again 15 athletes congregated on the shores to race the event. This year not only was there an IRONMAN crowned but also an IRONWOMAN. Tom Warren won the event in 11 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds, while Lynn Lemaire became the first IRONWOMAN finishing in 12 hours, 55 minutes and 38 seconds. This year the event also saw Barry McDermott, a journalist for Sports Illustrated attend and write a ten-page feature to be published in the magazine resulting in hundreds of race applications for the following year.


In 1981 the race moved to the current race site at Kona, home to the barren lava fields, infamous crosswinds and oppressing heat. Year by year the event has grown, records have been shattered and the unimaginable has been obtained as some of the fittest people in the world push their body beyond unconceivable limits. Regardless of the challenges the athletes face on race day, it is any IRONMAN athletes dream to qualify for this prestigious race. Many athletes dedicate their time through the season battling to secure their spot on the start line, to achieve the celebrated status of being an IRONMAN World Championship finisher.


This year Camino is proud to be supporting our professional athletes, Tim Van Berkel and Callum Millward as they line up to test their limits on the unforgiving and unpredictable course that Kona is so well known for. We also wish the best of luck to our age group athlete Ryan Miller who is bound to leave no stone unturned as he hopes to better his top 20 finish from last year. Last but not least we are excited to see Korupt Vision’s other half, Liz Blatchford, as she races her last IRONMAN event after an 18 year career that has inspired a generation of athletes. The boys and girls have had stellar seasons and we are excited to see their results.


To any of our other Comrades out their flying the flag on race day – good luck, enjoy everything Kona has to offer - from the Queen K to Ali Drive we hope you love every moment of living out the ultimate IRONMAN dream.



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