Monday, October 5, 2009


Minnesota Master of the Year nominee Rhett Bonner shares his Ironman odyssey.

Day 1- (Sunday Oct.4)

"I woke up at 3 am and felt pretty rested since I went to bed at 7pm the night before. Made my way down to the Kona Pier at about 6:40 am or so. Just in time to see Michellie Jones (pictured) arrive on her cool custom Felt bike with matching aero helmet and kit. The color scheme is black and pink with a little yellow. I then noticed Normann Stadler with his entourage of young german triathletes. It was interesting to observe the contrast between these two as they entered the water. Norman was joking with his posse and Michellie was quiet, and businesslike. Normann playfully splashed Michellie as she entered the water and started her swim while he was still loosening up on the small spit of sand. The Kona pier and this small area around the triangular beach is
THE place to be each morning. the energy here is amazing.

"I started my swim about 30 seconds after Michellie started hers. I was doing a real easy warm up for the first couple of minutes when Norman's group came by me on the right. I recognized Norman as he swam by me because he was wearing a new version of the Blue Seventy "point zero three" swimskin with a white back. Even though I hadn't come close to completing my warm up I couldn't resist the urge to try to keep up with Norman's pack. I'm not kidding- there were at least 15 guys in this pack, so I stayed to the left as each one would slowly go by me- swimming just fast enough that I couldn't quite stay with them.

"As I watched the gap between me and the Germans slowly grow, they stopped. I looked at my watch, and we had been swimming for 15 minutes already. This is part of the magic of Kona. As you are swimming you look down into the crystal clear blue water you can watch all kinds of tropical fish swimming over the coral and white sand on the bottom. It is so easy to swim for an hour here without getting bored.

"Just as I caught up with the group of Germans, who were resting, I saw that Michellie Jones was treading water over to the left of the pack. they all took off just as I caught up, so I tried to keep behind Michellie without hitting her feet with my hands. I was able to stay right behind her for a few hundred meters, but then I got dropped again, and this time the whole pack moved away from me much faster than the first time. I think that the first fifteen minutes was their "warmup". This second 15 minutes or so brought us to the orange buoy that marks the turnaround, or approximately 1 mile marker. I say us because I had latched onto 2 other men who I think has gotten dropped from the German pack. It felt good to know that I wasn't the only one who couldn't hang. On the way back I was able to stay with these two men most of the way until my calf started cramping, so the last 15 minutes was a relaxed combination of trying to stretch my calf and do breaststroke and dolphin kick. By the time I got back to the pier there were now about 500 triathletes there entering and exiting the water and socializing. It already felt like the temperature had risen into the 80's and it was only a little after 8 am.

"I next went on about a 45 mile ride starting about 22 miles from Hawi, which is the halfway point in the race. I chose to go out and ride this section on the way out to Hawi because it is probably the toughest part of the course. It is almost all uphill, and you get a really strong headwind for the better part of about 15 miles. Once I got back to my car I did a 4 mile run. It is hard to describe how hot it was, and how oppressive the heat and the sun is out there on the Queen K highway. As I drove back to Kona with the AC cranked up I looked out on the Lava fields with a strong feeling of dread for what lay ahead."

Day 2 ( Monday October 5th)

"I saw Michellie Jones at the Kona pier again, and today I had my camera with me, so I asked her if she would mind taking a picture with me. She was very gracious - and her husband took a couple of great shots of us. They both seemed very nice. I swam for about 50 minutes and felt pretty good. As I got out of the water, the small chunk of sand was crowded with photographers snapping pictures of Chrissie Wellington. She looked very fit and very tan. A short ride and then another 4 mile run this time along Ali'i drive and my training was done for the day." -RB

...more to come