These memorable moments reminded us why Kona is a competition unlike any other.
Daniela Ryf is in a Class by Herself1 of 7
In 2015, the Swiss triathlete dominated the field by what seemed an unthinkable 13-minute margin. With the pressure to repeat looming large, Ryf didn't just put down a winning performance—she annihilated the field by 20 minutes and obliterated the course record. The Angry Bird truly soars higher than all the rest.
But Rinny Still Rules2 of 7
Sure, second place finisher Mirinda Carfrae may have been out-classed by Ryf. But you'd never have known it as she sprinted into the finish to thundering applause and throngs of fans sporting neon 'Rinny Rules' t-shirts. The Aussie remains one of the most charismatic and beloved figures in triathlon, and with three world titles to her name, her loyal fans will be rooting for her to top the podium again soon.
The World Record May Never be Broken3 of 7
Conditions at this year's race were some of the best in recent memory, despite a pretty average high of 89 degrees and a low of 75. The difference was in light wind gusts that led to relatively calm waters, plus an occasional cloud cover and even a smattering of rain.
In other words, if ever there was a day for three-time champ Craig Alexander's (pictured) world record to fall, this was it--even according to the champ himself. But despite a blistering 2:45:34 marathon, winner Jan Frodeno was still two and a half minutes off Crowie's record of 8:03:56, leading us to wonder if it will ever be broken.
Tradition Stands Strong4 of 7
The tradition of IRONMAN winners returning to the finish line nearly eight hours after their race has ended to crown each and every last participant is the equivalent of LeBron James staying to help sweep the confetti off the court at Quicken Loans Arena. Yet there they are every year, placing the race's signature lei around the final finishers of the day, doling out enthusiastic hugs and toasting the achievements of those just happy to survive with the memory of a lifetime.
The Kona Finish Line is Still the Best Party in Sports5 of 7
Super Bowls, World Series, NBA Finals—none of them can boast the thundering party atmosphere you'll find at the Kona finish line from 11 p.m. to midnight on race day. Maybe it's the heroic achievements of the everymen and women pushing to the finish line with only moments to spare before the cut-off. Or maybe it's Mike Reilly's frenetic energy, bellowing his signature, "You are an IRONMAN!" with increasing intensity as the night wears on. Either way, grab a cold one from Kona Brewing and get ready to party.
You Can't Stop Crazy6 of 7
You'll see plenty of athletes out on Ali'i Drive or the Queen K in the days leading up to the race, putting in shakeout runs and logging final miles on the bike. But surely after anywhere from eight to 17 hours of racing you're gonna want to sleep in and take it easy the next day. Right?? Wrong. We spotted more than a few athletes out on recovery runs and rides when they should have been brunching and sipping mimosas. Guess you just can't stop crazy.