What makes Kona the Holy Grail for Age Group Triathletes?

Hawaii...(deep breath & relax). Paradise, sunshine, palm trees, ocean, relaxation are all images we associate with the islands of Hawaii.

Isolated in the heart of the Pacific Ocean with a relaxed feel, how does, arguably, the most gruelling one-day endurance race fit in here and what makes it worth chasing so hard?

IMWC 2017
Ironman World Championship 2017 Race Start | Photo Credit Effie Parisi-Legget

Picture this, there are over 2000 bikes crammed in transition on the pier, you're already sweating before 7am (and that's even before the race nerves kick in). What is about to come will include thrashing it out, limbs against limbs, in the 3.8km swim before battling the intense heat and wind on the isolated lava filled rolling hills of the Queen K for the 180km cycle. Once you've managed to not melt or dehydrate you'll fight off the sun and humidity for the final 42.2km run. All this in the heat of the day with absolutely zero shelter and just the odd aid station to look forward to.