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Sat 14th Dec 2019
Kona report: Russell Cox
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Wednesday 20th October 2010

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Russell Cox (, a regular contributor to the site over the last couple of years reports on his second visit to Kona.

Check out our other Kona race reports on these links:

Returning to the World Champs you inevitably have more ambitious goals. Having qualified at Western Australia in 2009 I'd had time to plan my campaign. This year I'd be fitter and faster - a new Kona PB was on the cards.

Setting goals at the start of the year is easy, but ensuring you remain on track is much harder. The season went well until the ITU Long Distance Worlds aggravated a calf injury. I went from good run form to barely jogging round the block. As running unraveled the final months of Kona preparation became a challenge.

It's the World Champs so I prepared the best I could getting myself to Hawaii with time to acclimatise. It never seemed as hot or as humid as I remembered yet it still took ten days to feel comfortable. The first few days your heart rate shoots through the roof every time you train. All you can do is trust that it'll return to normal before the week is out.

My taper was pleasantly uneventful swim and bike sessions felt great giving positive indications about performance. Significantly a combination of ART massage and Spidertech Kinesio tape had me running without problem. Too late to rebuild endurance, but I harboured hopes that the marathon might be less painful.

However calm you've been the preceding week once you're queuing to enter the water nerves hit their peak. This is the point when I'm thinking how much fun it would be to watch the race instead. I concentrate on why I'm there and how much I enjoy the sport to get me to the start line. Then there's no turning back.

After last year's terrible start I was concerned about placement. Training suggested I should be further forward, but I wanted to avoid the swim turning into a brawl. I noticed the center was a lot thinner than the rest of the start line. I could place myself forward with fewer people to swim over the top of me. Perfect!

When the cannon fired the first ten metres is a crawl over a mass of bodies rather than a swim. Eventually it spreads and you catch water rather than shoulders. The group you're in now is probably the group you stay with the rest of the loop. Standards are high, there's a huge draft and the work required to jump ahead is significant.

The pace felt right neither easy nor too hard so I settled in. Pleasingly it looked like my choice had paid off and I wasn't getting bashed by fellow athletes. Time drags and one of the challenges is maintaining focus. As the field thins on the return to the pier drafting becomes more important it's essential to keep your mind in the game.

I reached the beach with 1:06 on the clock three minutes up on last year and without the swimskins we had. I'd hoped to break 1:05, but was pleased with that improvement in a tough swim. I've learnt not be phased by swim times there's a long, hot day ahead.

The crowds in the change tents emphasised the strength of the field transition is packed. There's a constant stream of athletes and finding a chair is tough. Not that I had time to sit I kept myself efficient and moving knowing transition is always a weakness. Once you're ready there's a long run to your bike and out to the course.

The bike course starts with a busy out and back along Kuakini Highway. The packs can be disconcerting especially as everyone seems to be riding so hard. You need the confidence not to be drawn in and stick to your own pace. Once you've ridden up Palani and onto the Queen K it settles down.

I moved through the field to the base of the climb to Hawi sticking to my plan of riding strongly from the beginning. I experienced a low patch on the way up as stronger winds and the hills took their toll. Knowing there was a chance to recover on the fast descent to come I dug deeper.

Strong side winds made the descent more challenging than expected. I was glad for my road bike's drops and the added sense of stability they gave. Even with the gusts the speed was high whilst effort remained low. I took my first Biest Booster to give me a kick before the final stretch on the Queen K.

Last year I'd turned the race around on the return, pushing through the field into strong headwinds. With lighter winds it was down to me to put in the work. Coming out of my low patch I wasn't sure how things would pan out, but I'd specifically practiced time trialling back from Kawaihae.

Stepping up a gear I pushed on. After the previous weeks' hard sessions it felt easy! When I reached the airport I realised I could go under 5:05. Spurred on I made a final effort in the 10km to transition.

Russell CoxOnce again the change tent was busy. In most races you'd expect the field to have thinned, but not Kona. I dashed in, took a seat and let the helpers cover me with sunscreen whilst I worried about getting my shoes on. Having no expectations for the marathon I'd decided to race in some new K-Swiss Blade Lights as they'd felt great in my test run.

I ran out at 3:10 marathon pace on target for a new PB and the dream goal of going sub-9:30 here. Unfortunately I had no idea if I could sustain it, but decided to see what would come on the day. Perhaps a more cautious strategy would be better, but a World Champs wasn't the time to be cautious.

Along Ali'i Drive I maintained the pace and felt great. Pessimism vanished and I reached the climb up Palani still comfortably on target. Seeing Macca pulling away from Raelert in the opposite direction pushed me up the hill and back onto the Queen K. Then it started to go wrong.

Speed ebbed away and I settled at a slower effort. My legs ached in ways I'd not experienced before. It was a lesson in why we need long training runs before a marathon. I held on till the top of the Natural Energy Lab, but was gone by the time I'd reached the bottom.

Reluctantly I walked. Special needs is at the bottom of the Energy Lab and for the first time I had a bag on the course. I was glad for some dark chocolate M&Ms and I walked back up the hill munching them. I promised that at the top I'd run again.

After walking a couple of miles running is remarkable hard. My legs didn't feel any better and only the thought of walking aid stations kept me going. PBs were gone, but runners round me were contemplating breaking ten hours. There was still a chance if I could just get myself moving.

Slogging along the Queen K was some of the toughest Ironman running I've done. It was obvious I was close to ten hours, but it was very close. Having previously broken ten here it wasn't sufficient motivation to make me move. In the final mile I put a concerted effort in to finish more than hit a time.

Too little too late I crossed the line in 10:00:38! I wasn't bothered the race was done and I'd survived. Even with a lot of time walking I'd come in around 10 hours. Things could have been worse and there were positives to take from my performance before the run.

Another Kona completed and within hours I was thinking about qualification for 2011. A combination of the Eagleman 70.3 (thanks to an expo competition), Ironman Austria and possibly a return to Ironman UK. Then what my goals will be as I age up into the 35-39 year olds. What's certain is I want to be here next year.

It's been a different, but enjoyable race experience. Despite missing my original goals I've come away satisfied. As ever thanks have to go to a number of supporters who've helped along the way. My Sporting Times ( for all the support over the summer at least I made some improvements on the swim this time! Skinfit UK ( provided my new kit and it performed incredibly as proven by the lack of sore spots in the post race shower.

Three Biestmilch Boosters ( helped me through the day, perhaps a fourth in special needs would have got me under 10! Also Aurelie at the Tri Touch ( who's provided great massage support on the way to Kona and will put me back together again afterwards. Also Rudi from Compressport Oz ( for the support - those calf guards helped keep the legs going throughout the day.

Finally I should mention Spidertech ( who provided free kinesio taping at the expo. I was willing to try anything to help with my calf issues and this held everything together on race day. My calfs were the only part of my legs which didn't hurt!

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Have Your Say
Re: Kona report: Russell Cox
Posted by viejita
Posted at 23:17:07 15th Nov 2010
Reply to this

Glad you're liking the Kinesio effect, Russell. Just a reminder to you & your readers and colleagues, Kinesio Tape and Kinesio Taping are brand names. Puffs are not Kleenex, Pepsi is not Coke, and Spider Tech or K-Active are not Kinesio.

For information, go to or

Good luck to you in your conditioning!