Amber competed this past weekend up at Ironman Mont Tremblant. As I mentioned before, she needed to do this race to qualify for Kona, despite having won Ironman Lake Placid three weeks prior and coming in third in Ironman Texas earlier this year.
|Amber after Ironman Lake Placid|
The obvious reason I'm rooting for Amber to go to Kona is that it is amazing there! Lava rock and volcanoes contrast with lush rain forests, 13,000 foot peaks, the most vibrant sea life, and great coffee are just some of the reasons I want to go back... Oh you were wondering about racing in Kona....
So Kona is the Super Bowl for triathletes both professional and amateur. For professional athletes, getting to Kona will likely open up a world of sponsorship opportunities. Anyone you know who has qualified for Kona has definitely put in lots of hours of training. The difference between professional and age-groupers is night and day in regard to how you qualify to race at Kona. Age-groupers qualify by placing high enough in their 5 year(for example 30-34) age group at an Ironman race. The more people in a specific age-group, the more Kona slots that age-group gets(and as the argument goes, the more competitive). If you remember back to Amber's first Ironman in Wisconsin, she came in second in her age-group but because, at that time, she was in the 25-29 age group, they only took one woman so she missed out. Meanwhile the 35-39 male age-group took something like 13 or 14 men. It's a bit of a crap shoot in terms of qualifying and certainly isn't easy. However, that stands in stark contrast to how professionals qualify for Kona.
Qualifying as a professional for Kona involves a year of planning. This is because no matter how well you do, if there are 35 females who have more points than you, you won't be sipping coffee at Lava Java come October. The easiest way to qualify for Kona is to have already been to Kona and place fairly well(this is because the points there are, in my opinion, unfairly high-double that of the next largest point race-rewarding Kona participants but making it challenging for up and comers to get a spot at the big dance). Obviously this is an impossibility for any pro trying to get to Kona for the first time. The other two options are to race either obscure races without a lot of competition and cherry pick points or race locally as often as possible and hope you have enough points. Unfortunately for Amber, she doesn't have sponsors who will fly her to Australia or Brazil to cherry pick points, she she has had to race exclusively in the US. This means considerable competition at most of her races.
Luckily for her, this past weekend was the least competitive race that she had entered all year. If she finished the race, she could pretty much guarantee a Kona spot. Can you picture Amber taking it easy? No, neither can I. I wasn't up there as I spent the weekend with my family at the Cape, but from my understanding, Amber was the first out of the water, first off the bike and held the lead on the marathon for 21 miles. She was eventually passed and finished in second place which is very impressive considering it was only 3 weeks after Ironman Lake Placid.
|Danny rocking his Maverick Multisport shirt with his niece rooting Amber on|
|In the time it took Amber to ride 112 miles, Danny caught 15 blue fish-which is more impressive?|
Side-Note: I'm not 100% sure on this but I bet when the Kona pro list comes out Amber will be the only one on it that works a full-time job in addition to racing at this level. Simply amazing!
Up Next: Hopefully nothing but recovery for Amber for the next few weeks and then one last build to Kona which will be on October 11th this year.
If you haven't read it yet, Amber has posted her Ironman Lake Placid Race Report.