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Crowie’s Hawaiian Ironman – Spectator Tips

October 13th, 2012

Supporting a friend or family member on race day can make for a harder and longer day than that of those actually competing. You won’t be much support from the medical tent so like those racing, you need to make sure you keep the fluids and fuel up. You also need to keep cool, wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen regularly.

There can be over 30,000 people supporting their loved ones at the World Ironman Championships so it also common for people to get lost in the crowd. It’s a good idea to agree a meeting place if you get separated a couple of streets back from where you plan to be spectating – and there are plenty of great Kona coffee shops to choose from!

Below is a list of locations that may help you be seen as well as heard and I hope make for a more successful and memorable visit to Kona this year.


Chances are that your athlete won’t hear much before or after the starting cannon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t monitor their progress. The Sea Wall all the way along the first mile of Ali’i Drive provides a great vantage point on the 3.8km out and back swim course from Kailua Bay. Make sure you know what colour cap they will be wearing and it is also a good idea to get an estimate of their swim time so you can have your eyes peeled well and truly before they emerge from the water.

Tip – Don’t forget to note their start time or just start your stopwatch when they start their race. This will be a valuable reference point throughout the day.


Despite being a180km out and back course, there are some great spots to put your cheering to the test in Hawaii. All Ironman competitors pass through the intersection of Palani Road and the Kuakini Hwy four (4) times before making the trek out the Queen K Hwy to the Hawi turnaround.

Kuakini Hwy runs parallel to Ali’i Drive and is just one block up the hill away from the water. My advice, to avoid the congestion and to make your support count, is to head direct to Kuakini Hwy from your swim course vantage point to catch your rider as they head south after having completed a 10 or so min loop out to Makala St. They will have come down Palani Rd and negotiated this intersection (known as ‘hot corner’) and should be feeling good on the bike. Once they pass you here, they will take another 10mins or less to return to ‘hot corner’ and drag themselves up the same Palani hill. This is about as slow as they will move on the bike and most will be looking for some encouragement on this hill before meeting the Queen K Hwy for the day.

Tip – Print this Ironman bike course map from the Ironman site if you are still confusing your Hawaiian Royalty or coming to grips with an alphabet with a few less letters!

Spectator Fuel Zone

No matter who you are cheering for, you now have a couple of hours to hunt around town, take a dip in the pacific, recharge with a coffee and breakfast or visit the Ironman Expo in the car park of the King K hotel.

Keep an eye on the time of log in to a wifi or to get regular updates from out on the course cause you won’t want to miss you Ironman (or woman) getting back to town on the bike. The field should be fairly dispersed by now and there will be a little more elbow room at Hot Corner.


Anywhere close to ‘Hot Corner’ you will catch your athlete as they run up out of transition and just like in the bike leg, you will be able to venture further up the Palani Rd when the athletes return from the Ali’i Drive loop before again heading out the Queen K to come to terms with the Natural Energy Lab.

After you scream them on their way you will have plenty of time to get back down to the last half mile of Ali’i Drive to share in the elation of an Ironman finish.

Tip – – Print this Ironman run course map out and don’t try to out run an Ironman, get in position early and offer support to everyone out on the course. We all need it.

Have a great day.


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