2018 Ironman World Championship in Kona Hawaii
2018 Ironman World Championship with Big Island Guide
The world’s best triathletes gather in Kona Hawaii each October to compete in one of the most challenging and strenuous athletic competitions anywhere, the Ironman World Championship. With over 2,400 competitors from 82 countries, athletes range in age between 18-85 and include some of the fiercest competitors in the world.
2018 Ironman Race Recap
The 2018 Ironman World Championship was one for the record books, with five course records being broken this year. Many of the pro competitors came to Kona with ambitious goals, looking not just for the win, but to claim records. German native Patrick Lange finished first in the pro men’s competition and again laid claim to the course record, with a final time of 7:52:39, marking the first sub-8-hour finish in Kailua-Kona. Bart Aernouts of Belgium finished second, also with an impressive sub-8-hour finish at 7:56:41 and Great Britain’s David McNamee joined them on the podium for third place with a final time of 8:01:09.
In the women’s competition, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf continued her dominance, capturing the gold medal for the fourth straight year while setting a new course record of 8:26:16. Ryf also set a new course record for the bike portion of the race with a split of 4:26:07. Great Britain’s Lucy Charles earned second place with a time of 8:36:34 also claiming the course record for the swim with a split of 48:13 and Germany’s Anne Haug came in third at 8:41:58.
Another notable performance was from Cameron Wurf who led the men’s division for much of the day and set a new men’s course bike record with a split of 4:09:06, ultimately finishing 9th. The Americans, Sarah True finished at 8:43:42 and Tim O’Donnell at 8:03:17 both claiming 4th place finishes. The 2018 Ironman World Championship was thrilling from start to finish and watching record after record being shattered made it even more exciting. As an added bonus everyone at the finish line when Patrick Lange finished got to watch the athlete propose on bended knee to his girlfriend Julia, and she accepted, so another win for the champion.
The 2018 Ironman Course in Kailua-Kona Hawaii
Held each year in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island, the race includes a 2.4-mile ocean swim in Kailua Bay, 112-mile bicycle race along the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, and finishes up back in Kailua-Kona after a 26.2-mile run. This incredible endurance test is one of the most impressive and exciting races to watch. It’s inspiring to see lifelong dreams come true and cheer on the amazing athletes who dare to challenge this brutal Ironman course.
The 2018 Ironman World Championship is Hawaii’s 40th time hosting the event. Held annually in Kailua-Kona since 1981, the Ironman World Championship is considered the ultimate physical, mental, and emotional test of strength, resilience, and endurance in the world. Qualification requires placement in other Ironman competitions or Ironman 70.3 races, of which there are more than 40 such events worldwide.
Watching the 2018 Ironman World Championship
Watching these dedicated athletes train around the Big Island in the weeks prior to The Ironman Race is always inspirational and brings to light the immense amount of work that goes into performing at the top of the sport. Their incredible displays of form and strength on race day will awe you and the tremendously competitive field will keep you guessing until the last step who will rise to victory.
For an understanding of how the race flows and how long each section takes, we can look at the men’s pro winner and his timing. Patrick Lange swam a 50:37, biked a 4:16:04, and ran a 2:41:31 for an incredible 7:52:39 finish time. Be aware that many road closures block direct paths into and out of Kona as well as all around the downtown area so getting around can take extra time. Click Here to Download 2018 Ironman Road Closure Information. One quick tip, there are a lot of people down town and the portable toilets often run out of paper, so bring a roll with you, you’ll thank me later.
If you are here in Kona during the 2018 Ironman World Championship, then you will want to be up early to catch the start of the swim. The event kicks off at 6:30 am in Kailua Bay, with the pro men’s division starting first and the pro women’s following, then the age groups. Parking is nuts and the best spots fill up fast on race day, so heading down as early as possible is always advised.
There are several parks in downtown Kona as well as the sea wall lining Ali’i Drive that overlook the starting point for the swim in Kailua Bay. You can line up anywhere along here for a view of the swim portion of the race. The pro men will finish swimming in around 48-55 minutes and proceed to the bike race.
The bike race immediately follows the swim and competitors leave directly from the Kailua Pier transition area, heading up Palani Road, looping around to Makala Blvd and the Kuakini Hwy then racing along the closed Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway to Hawi on the northern tip of Hawaii and back. If you want to head up to the turnaround point you would want to take the upper Mamalahoa HWY 190 to Waimea, then take the 250 cut across that takes you over Kohala mountain into Hawi.
If you’re not heading north, the best place to see the biking event is either from Palani Rd when they are leaving the pier area, along the Kuakinin HWY or along the Queen K as they head out of Kona. The pro men generally start to complete the bike portion of the race in around 4.5 hours and land back at the transition point around 11:45 am.
The run starts from the Kailua Pier transition point and heads up Palani Rd, turning south on the Kuakini Hwy until Hualālai Rd, then continues onto Ali’i Dr for a turn around retracing it’s path back to the Queen K Hwy for the long stretch up to the airport. The racers will turn around at NELHA and then make for the home stretch back along the Queen K Hwy and the hard earned finish line on Ali’i Drive.
The men’s pro leaders will start to approach the finish around 2:15 pm. The finish to the 2018 Ironman World Championship will be an incredible and emotionally charged event. The finish line is typically packed with onlookers and if you want to get a glimpse of the winners, it’s best to show up early to stake out a spot.
Ironman Raceday Coverage
If you aren’t lucky enough to be in Kona for the event, here are a few ways you can see live coverage and follow along. Get more information on Ironman’s Website.
Watch Live on Ironman Now Facebook Channel
Watch NBC Sports Coverage