“Winning the Lottery”: My Trip to Watch My Dad Race Kona in 2008 and How it Shaped My Love for Triathlon

In the spirit of Kona being tomorrow, I wanted to share some of my favorite photos from my trip to Kona in 2008. My dad got into Kona through the lottery, and had an awesome race. (I still remember the moment he saw his name on TV and found out he got in. It was the most excited I’ve ever seen him! Screams and cheers all around the house!) He finished in a little over fifteen hours. It was my first time in Hawaii, and it was an unreal experience.

I remember waking up the morning of the race to walk my dad down to the start — a warm, balmy haze running over the vast Hawaii ocean. I walked along the edge of the stone wall that runs along Ali’i Drive in Kona, and I stopped for a moment to look around and take in what was around me. The best triathletes in the world were competing in this race. It was an amazing feeling knowing that i was there to watch it unfold.

Throughout the day, my mom and brother explored Kona while running around trying to catch my dad at various points of the race. The hotel was too far to walk back, so we stayed in the main Kona town strip for the entire day! We were so exhausted by the end of the day that we ended up taking a quick nap in the car before watching dad finish, haha.

Throughout the week, we experienced everything from swimming part of the swim course (and seeing the most AMAZING, beautiful fish on the swim), swimming out to a large ship to try Kona coffee, going hiking in a rainforest, taking a helicopter ride above lava fields, and more. The race itself was breathtaking — seeing so many amazing athletes in one place was one of the most inspirational experiences I’ve had to date. I even got to meet Ironman Legend Mark Allen (as well as running into Tony Hawk on the plane ride over, haha).

When my dad finally ran down Ali’i Drive to finish — with Mike Reilly chanting “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” — I knew that I wanted to be a part of this sport for life. To do an Ironman myself. And to one day compete at Kona.

After the race, the experience was even more magical. My family and I danced for hours around the most passionate and exciting crowd I’ve ever encountered. To this day, the song “Down Under” by Men at Work reminds my family of this night. 🙂

My experience at Kona (and, of course, my dad) have been two of the main things driving my passion for triathlons to date. I can’t wait to see where my triathlon adventures take me in the future. (I’m hoping down Ali’i Drive at some point :))

Have you ever been to Kona to watch Ironman? Do you have dreams of competing at Kona one day?

See below for pictures from my 2008 Kona adventure! 🙂

Tri Hard,

Caity

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Morning of the race!

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Swim Start!

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Dad on the bike

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Dad finishing!

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Post-finish!

Meeting Ironman Legend Mark Allen!

Meeting Ironman Legend Mark Allen!

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Dad during the race

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You are an Ironman!

 

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Rainforest hike!

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Dinner at our favorite spot on the trip – Jackie Rey’s 🙂

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Dad after the finish!

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Wall with the IM record in 2008

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Swimming at a waterfall!

 

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Exploring Kona!

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Loving Hawaii!

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Before the Helicopter Tour!

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View from our room!

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View from outside the helicopter

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Lava!

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Hiking in the rainforest!

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Helicopter tour with the family. It was the day after the race, and my dad was SO sore!

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Meeting Tony Hawk on the plane!



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