KOHALA COAST — Nearly 1,200 athletes gathered along the sun-drenched shoreline of beautiful Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, to compete in the thrilling Ironman 70.3 Hawaii triathlon on Saturday.
The 19th edition of the half ironman distance featured a 1.2-mile open water swim in Pauoa Bay, followed by a 56-mile roundtrip bike ride to the nearby Upolu Airport road sign. from Hawaii, and finished with a run of 13.1 miles. the grounds of the complex.
Paraguay’s Alfredo Ramírez Pinho made it look easy by posting the fastest time of the day to cross the finish line in 4 hours, 19 minutes and 53 seconds.
“It’s unbelievable,” Ramírez Pinho said of winning on his first attempt at Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. “I am very lucky. I have family here, John and Brian, for my support; Every Man Jack, my sponsor, as well as all my sponsors. I am very grateful to all the volunteers who make this race possible, without the volunteers, none of us I would have reached the goal.”
Pinho, who currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin, said his career went “exactly as planned” and couldn’t have been more perfect.
“The plan was to swim around 30 (minutes) or 31 and try not to increase your core temperature on the bike, where my goal was around 2:14 or 2:15. I ran it as planned. The race (target) was 1:21 to 1:25 and I managed that. Also, my nutrition and hydration were perfect. My plan worked perfectly, especially for this course – it’s a beast. The conditions were beautiful, but very windy. Headwind from start to finish. On the way back the wind changed so there were times I felt fast, times I felt slow, but you just have to stick to your numbers and make your own run to execute it. I am happy to represent my country, Paraguay, and to represent Every Man Jack, and to run alone for my family and friends.”
Former Kailua-Kona resident David Wild and Kailua-Kona’s Kaiden Lieto placed second and third overall with times of 4:26:23 and 4:30:14 respectively.
“I feel super good,” said Wild, who currently lives and trains in Austin, Texas and works as a data visualization and reporting analyst for Whole Foods. “I came into this race thinking, ‘I want to finish this race feeling like I’ve actually raced.’ And that’s what makes me feel super good. I ended up running hard, kind of picking up some speed at the end, not going crazy, never feeling too bad because for some reason this race always makes me feel that way. But today I felt super stable and smart.”
Wild said Saturday’s event was his eighth time competing in the race known locally as “Honu.”
“I’ve been running this race since I moved here to Kona,” Wild said. “Of all the races I’ve done, I’ve never run a race as many times as Honu. I feel like I’ve finally learned something. I learned that the body knows more than the mind. I can’t put it into words. There are numbers you can track, your times and power and heart rate, but I’ve learned that you really need to feel what you can do, which takes years of experience to know that this isn’t too hard, this isn’t too easy, this is just right. ”
Kaiden Lieto was also ecstatic with his overall third-place performance in his first go at Honu, and especially after recovering from a broken clavicle earlier in the year.
“I am very happy with my performance. I know there are some things I need to work on, but overall, I’m 100% excited,” said the 19-year-old Kailua-Kona resident. “Honestly, I didn’t know how today was going to go. If you asked me yesterday, I got in my head and I didn’t even feel like I wanted to start, I didn’t feel like I had it, I didn’t feel excited. I’m so happy that I got over that mental battle, so I feel super happy.”
Lieto is also the son of former professional triathlete Chris Lieto.
“I think the crowd was incredible today, especially coming out of the water,” Lieto said. “In the last 50 to 100 yards of the swim, you could see all the people on the rocks, super crowded, just cheering. I heard people cheering my name many times on the field. That was really cool.”
On the women’s side, San Francisco’s Kelly Barton claimed her first Ironman 70.3 Hawaii title with her time of 4:46:50.
“It feels good!” Barton said of his victory. “I feel like this is one of the hardest courses I’ve ever done, so it feels very satisfying. The race: it’s very hot and running on the grass is very difficult. There are also plenty of short hard-hitting climbs that can really break you down.
“The goal was to push myself to the maximum in swimming and cycling, knowing that the race on foot was hard. I wanted to get as much difference as possible and I think it worked out pretty well. I was happy with my swim as I realized that I was with the group of women in front. The bike then worked great as I was pretty much on my own for most of the way. But it was good since I held what I was supposed to have, and I was like 4 minutes up.”
Barton, who works as an investor in CapitalG (Alphabet’s Growth Investment Fund) and was planning to take his place at Kona, felt his victory was also something of a redemption of some unfinished business.
“I did last year. I had a bad race last year. I won my age group and was sixth overall, but I had a really tough day, so I came back. Definitely an improvement on last year. I think it was like a 20 minute RP to me.”
The Brazilians Fernanda Bau and Carolyn Olsen completed the women’s podium with times of 4:54:07 and 5:04:33 respectively.
“It’s my first time here and it’s amazing,” Bau exclaimed. “I came because I wanted to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in October and I did! It has always been a dream of mine to come to Hawaii and I want to bring my whole family. The experience I’ve had for the last four days here, I just want to say, thank you for making me feel so welcome here! This place is just amazing!”
The 2023 VinFast Ironman World Championship will take place on two separate race dates: the men’s race is scheduled for September 10 in Nice, France, and the women’s race will take place in Kailua-Kona on October 14.