KONA, Hawaii may be known as one of the world’s great paradises, but once a year in October it becomes the exotic locale for the most gruelling test of mental and physical endurance: the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship.
Last Saturday, Jewish triathlete Adriel Young was among 2187 participants taking on the punishing 226km race, which includes a 3.8km swim, 180km on the bike and concludes with a marathon run (42.2km).
Not only did Young, who is a regular fixture on the triathlon calendar and competes in one to two Ironman races a year, manage to finish the course, but his time of 9 hours, 23 minutes, placed him ninth in the 25-29 age category and good enough for 76th overall.
Summing up the final stretch as a “magical place”, Young told The AJN that “words can’t describe” the feeling when he reached the finish line.
As if the mere distance isn’t enough of a challenge, the Kona course – which prides itself as the birthplace of modern ironman races – winds through lava fields and features hot gusts of wind exceeding 100km/h.
“It’s obviously physically demanding, you are suffering the whole time,” Young said, while recovering in Hawaii.
“It’s super important to be mentally strong – if it was easy everyone would be doing it.
“You really have to try and focus the whole time, because it’s important to make the right moves at the right time, race your own race and trust your own ability.
“It’s also vital to focus on your nutrition, you can’t stop eating or drinking or it’ll come back to bite you.”
The 26-year-old Bondi lifeguard, who found fame as “Bacon” on Channel 10’s hit show Bondi Rescue, competes in ironman as a hobby.
And despite a slower day than usual at Kona, Young’s tremendous effort still places him among the world’s toughest competitors.
“I didn’t have an ideal day – I especially didn’t run as well as I have been, but these things happen when you are tackling the elements,” Young said.
“I am still super happy as this is the World Championships in Kona, the pinnacle of ironman racing. To be in the top 100 in the world and, even better, the top nine in my age group is a truly amazing feeling at a sport that I’ve been competing in for less than two years.”
When asked what race is up next, Young laughs and responds: “Not too sure, my body is a bit too sore to even think of that at the moment!”