Fall is here, and in Hawai’i that means it’s Ironman World Championship time! One of the most highly anticipated events on the Big Island, and in the international world of endurance athletes, the Kona Ironman World Championship is the apex event of all Ironmen competitions. Qualifying times range from 9 hours to 16 hours (depending on your age group and race location) to complete a 2.4 mile ocean swim, a 112 mile bike ride through lava fields and whirling dervish winds, and finally a hot and humid 26.2 mile run. This is one of the most exciting times to be on the Big Island. The approximately 2,000 competitors come from throughout the world, representing all ages and nations. Walk around Kona in the week preceding the event, and the excitement and anticipation is palpable. Superbly fit people are everywhere, doing their thing -- eating, drinking, swimming, biking, and running. If you’re lucky, you may spot an Ironman superstar such as 84 year-old Sister Madonna Buder, also known as the Ironnun. Sister Buder is a wisp of a nun, perhaps 5 feet tall in her cycling shoes, with an iron will. She competed in her first Ironman at the age of 49, and is still going strong almost 40 years later. In 2014, there were more than 200 competitors in the 65 and older age groups. This is an incredibly motivating event, even if you are only a weekend warrior or armchair athlete.
During Ironman week, Kona’s coffee shops are great places to people watch, and to sample our world famous Kona coffee. Many athletes include coffee as an important part of their training regimen. In addition to increasing metabolism and athletic performance, drinking coffee before exercise allows caffeine to break down body fat and makes them available in the bloodstream to be used as an energy source. Along with increased energy for physical workouts, coffee increases mental focus by increasing brain functions such as memory, mood, reaction time, and general cognitive ability. For the non-athletes, coffee also offers many excellent benefits, including: reduced risk for Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, liver cancer, endometrial cancer, mouth cancers (oropharyngeal & pharyngeal), breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer. Coffee is the original drink of the gods.
An excellent coffee shop to check out while you’re on the island is Caffe Florian, in Kealakekua. Run by Rita, a hopped-up, friendly, and gregarious Italian chef, Caffe Florian offers a wide selection of fresh and delicious lunches, pastries, and Rita’s famous coffees, cappuccinos, and espressos. You can also pick up a few bags of Karmasu Coffee here, for yourself or to take home as condolence gifts for friends and family who didn’t get to go to Hawaii.
Here are additional resources if you’d like to read more on coffee and health: