The countdown to the biggest triathlon race of the season has begun. The IRONMAN world championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii will be 6-8 October and will host the world’s best long distance triathletes from across the planet, including many THEMAGIC5 athletes in both the amateur and professional races. Four professionals who will be wearing THEMAGIC5 on race day, share their top tips and insights into how they are preparing to be their best on the biggest race day of the year.
Laura Siddall — Keep Your Balance
Fan favorite Laura Siddall (GBR) will be lining up for the 4th time in Kona. Known for her incredible consistency and friendly spirit, Siddall says Kona is all about balancing the special experience with the demands of race day. “It’s a long day— keep your head in the game,” she says. “Kona is a unique beast: the island, the conditions, the hype, the athletes. Ironman is such a long day and anything can happen even with the best preparation.”
Siddall explains her mantra also applies before the race. With the entire industry there and so many exciting and fun side events, Siddall says she thrives off some of the pre-race activities and seeing so many athletes and friends. “Try to enjoy the events and Kona experiences as much as possible,” she says. “But be careful not to over do it, and be shattered before race day.” She says she also sees athletes “having their race in the days leading up when they go too hard on the Queen K or Ali’i Drive.” Her top tip? Plan quiet time. Siddall says she will be chilling out and watching Ted Lasso.
Fenella Langridge — Enjoy The New Experience
In her inaugural campaign, Fenella Langridge (GBR) says her primary goal is to “race fast and have fun.” Currently ranked 13th in the world PTO standings, Langridge put together an impressive season of world class racing with a 2nd place at Challenge Roth, 8th at the IRONMAN St. George world championships, and a 4th at the Challenge Family world championship. Although it will be her first time racing Kona, after her multiple experiences racing at the championship level during the past year, Langridge says the biggest thing she has learned hasn’t had anything to do with swim, bike, or run. “I have learned more about the mindset going into big championship races. Sometimes it’s just best to keep things as simple as possible,” she says.
The conditions in Kona are well known to be exceptionally tough and can buckle even the most seasoned athletes but Langridge is as prepared as possible. “I am chomping at the bit to get there and race. But, I have no expectations and I’m under no illusion that it will be like anything I have done before,” Langridge says. “It’s scary but also amazing.”
Matt Hanson — Race, Learn, Race
Matt Hanson will be making his fifth appearance in Kona and jokes that he has “done a good job of figuring out ways to not be successful in Kona.” However, Hanson, who is currently ranked 14th in the PTO world rankings, never lets any experience, bad or good, go to waste. “Being a professional athlete, you always have to be learning. Every little lesson gathered from successes and failures need to be stored and built off of. If you are always learning, you are always becoming a better athlete,” he says.
Hanson says the swim in particular is somewhere where he will be putting new knowledge to good use. “I’ve actually come out of the water at numerous races throwing up including Kona in 2015, 2017, and 2018. It took me quite a bit of time to figure out that wearing my goggles too tight to prevent leaking was causing issues which were compounded by choppy and salty water. I haven’t had any issues since switching to THEMAGIC5 goggles, so fingers crossed there isn’t an issue in Kona this year.”
For new athletes coming to Kona, Hanson says: “treat it like any other race. Don’t let the race excitement overwhelm you. It’s really easy to have your mental batteries drained before you get to the start line.”
Rudy Von Berg — Get Used To The Heat
Lining up for his first Kona performance and his first full ironman distance world championship race, Rudy Von Berg will take the start line ranked 12th in the PTO world rankings. Although he has never raced on the island, Von Berg has done several training camps and says a crucial part of his preparation is acclimating to the renowned conditions. “It’s very hot and humid so make sure you’re ready for that,” he says. “You see many guys crumble under the heat.”
Von Berg will arrive two weeks before the race to acclimate to the weather but he also says “living the island life” is better than just training in the heat. “People always go for air conditioning but I think it’s better to live the island life and not be in the air conditioning. It can be difficult in a hotel room but if you have a place where you can open everything and have the breeze go through the house, I think that’s the best way to do it.”
He also recommends staying outside of town. Although it’s father from the race venue, “it can be nice to be out of the craziness,” Von Berg says.
“I’m feeling good and confident for the race,” he says, despite struggling with some recent illness. “There’s always going to be highs and lows in an athlete's career and you just have to be happy where you’re at even though it can be frustrating. You just have to go with it and make the best of it and be happy while you’re doing it. That’s all you can do: control your attitude,” Von Berg explains. To that end, Von Berg says enjoying the race is also a big goal of his. “My whole family is going to be there and my girlfriend. My older brother is racing. In the end, having fun is the most important.”