The largest long-distance triathlon in the calendar takes place this October, with athletes from all over the world heading to Kona to race over a 3.86km swim, 180.25km bike and 42.2km run. All different age groups will go head-to-head, as well as the world’s top professionals, in pursuit of being World Champion.
The race also gives the visiting triathletes the chance to experience one of the most scenic and exotic islands on the planet, in Hawaii. So we took the opportunity to check in with our athletes to see what’s worth visiting on the island to inspire others to #bringyourbike and visit Hawaii too.
Where to ride?
Belgian triathlete Bart Aernouts races for the Scicon Bags partnered BMC-Etixx Pro Triathlon Team Powered by Uplace, and has previously broken into the top 10 at Kona. In the weeks before race day, while preparing on the island, Bart trains mainly on the out and back route on Queen K. However, he makes time for other routes in the area: “Another nice road to explore is the Kohala mountain road to Hawi, or the Mamalahoa road to Waimea. You can also cross the island by taking the Saddle road from Waikoloa to Hilo, it’s a challenging ride that brings you out to the Mauna Kea volcano.”
French triathlete Jeanne Collonge gives another good alternative to riding the main race route: “I like to ride on the road parallel to the Queen K, which is very nice, and also towards Captain Cook, if you want to do some hills. I also like the climb of Holualoa very much (Hualalai Road)”.
GB triathlete Laura Siddall adds: “There are plenty more, and let’s be honest more exciting, roads to ride – get off the Queen K and explore. Head south from Kona down to Captain Cook Monument and through the Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Park, or swap the lava rock for enchanted forests and coast line views down the Old Mamalahoa Highway and Waipio Lookout.”
Where to visit when in Hawaii?
One of Australia’s top triathletes, and the 2016 70.3 World Champion, Tim Reed heads to Kona for the Trek Factory Racing team, travelling with Scicon Bags. “The water is warm enough that you can explore the sea snorkelling for hours, and I love to swim with the dolphins in Kealakekua Bay.”
Scicon Ambassador, David Dellow will be lining up for his third start in Kona this October. After race day, when it’s time to enjoy the surroundings, he has his an agenda already in place. “I need to keep the girlfriend happy so some of the choices on this year’s calendar are Hawaii Volcano National Park, Mauna Kea, to overlook Waipio Valley, visit Akaka Fall State Park and to head down to Ka Lae Cape, the southern point of Kailua.”
Kristin Möller comes to Kona with past experience of finishing in the top 20 here, as well as accumulating wins at this distance around the world. “Visit the black sand beach to see the turtles and the green sand beach too for a wander around. Then there’s the Volcano National Park where you can hike across the lava fields. Also, visit Mauna Kea at the top of the island and enjoy sunrise or sunset in this moon-type landscape.”
South African triathlete and Scicon Bags ambassador Kyle Buckingham adds: “A few beaches I love visiting on my trip are Kehalu’u Beach Park, a great beach to snorkel and see the amazing turtles and tropical fish, and White Sands or Magic Sands Beach. I go to this beach for body surfing and to chill before and after the race.”
Two-time Olympian, Daniel Fontana recommends a trip to Waipio Valley: “It’s a wonderful and unique place with a lunar landscape that contrasts the race route. You can get there by car (or by bike, as Laura Siddall suggests) and then there’s a section to cross by foot before you reach the valley. It’s lined with rich vegetation and stunning waterfalls that fill your eyes.”
Places of note – Hawaii Volcano National Park, Akaka Fall State Park, Black Sand Beach, Kehalu’u Beach Park, White Sands Beach and Kealakekua Bay.
Kyle Buckingham suitably Hawaiian themed in Kona.
Where to eat and drink?
Experienced professional Michelle Vesterby has finished in the top 10 in Kona in both previous editions of the race, and knows how to make the most of the island life. When it comes to the food, she’s got a clear favourite: “You have to try the ACAI Bowl when you are in Kona – you can find one of the best ones in front of ‘Huggos’”!
Several of the athlete heading to Kona pick out the same café as the place to go if you’re after a good coffee. Both Tim Reed and Laura Siddall highlight Daylight Mind as their favourite caffeine stop, both for the coffee and for the views and atmosphere. Sounds like a must-visit.
After just missing out on a podium place in Kona in 2016, Anja Beranek will be looking to go at least one spot better this year. When it comes to eating out, she gave her recommendations. “Breakfast at Lava Java is a must on Alli’i Drive – it’s a great spot to meet other triathletes and to enjoy the sea. I also enjoy going to the local markets and eating the sweetest pineapples and mangos that you’ll find.”
Former World Champion Pete Jacobs also recommends a trip to Lava Java and the Food Markets, but his favourite restaurant on the island is Umeke, which serves Poke bowls and Hawaiian inspired dishes.
Eateries of note – Lava Java, Umeke, Allii’i Drive Food Markets, Huggos, and the most popular, Daylight Mind.
Other outdoor activities
Pete Jacobs highlights Manta Ray night diving, as well as swimming with dolphins, as one of his favourite activities when out in Hawaii away from race day. When not concentrating on preparing for race day, winner of arguably the toughest triathlon out there, IM Lanzarote, Alessandro Degasperi enjoys trekking on the island, notably heading to where the lava flows down to the sea, as well as some recreational swimming and snorkelling out in the sea.
Michelle Vesterby, like many triathletes visiting Kona, spends much of her time around racing down by the water taking in different activities including surfing and diving. Asked what else she gets up to, she said: “To be totally honest – I’m quite boring as I stick to training, eating and sleeping before the race so I relax on the beach! I went hiking around the island back in 2014 – there are some beautiful places to see.”
Jeanne Collonge highly recommends her favourite place to visit: “Go to Mauna Kea volcano, climbing to the highest point. Go for sunrise or sunset, it’s the best time to see that place, because the light is so special… it’s wonderful.”
Other Activites – Manta Ray night diving, swimming with turtles, swimming with dolphins, island trekking, heading to see where the volcano lava meets the sea, and seeing the sunrise at the Mauna Kea volcano.
Photo credits: Scicon ambassadors & Sandra Schlichenmaier
We wish the best of luck to all of our Scicon Bags ambassadors travelling to race in Kona, and hope that you’ve been inspired to visit the Hawaiian island and to #bringyourbike too. Our ambassadors will be travelling to and from Hawaii with their race bikes safely transported in their Scicon AeroComfort Triathlon 3.0 TSA Bike Travel Bags.