Endurance sports has its enormous events, and typically, they are in enormous cities. Take Boston and New York for their iconic marathons, as an example.
But Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, is different. The Ironman World Championship is an enormous event, no doubt, the most famous triathlon on the planet by a long shot. And that race chose to LEAVE the urban feel of Honolulu and head to Kailua-Kona in 1981. With that, the town of 12,000 residents on Hawaii's sparsely populated Big Island transforms from sleepy town to THE place to be in an instant.
Outside of perhaps Leadville, Colorado and its famous ultramarathon, what other small town is this important to the endurance sports world?
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The effects of Ironman reverberate throughout the year. Kona's tropical climate gives locals and visitors warm waters to swim in. The nearby volcanoes give them super climbs for cycling. The amazing views of the Pacific Ocean to the west and the mountains to the east are perfect for a long run. And the lava rock blanketing the island is ideal for a challenging hike on unfamiliar terrain.
Kona is a great town for activity even when it's not Ironman week. If you're visiting the Big Island, here's what you need to know—and what you need to do: