"Love what you get to do every day to get to Kona. And accept your story. Love your story. It will be different from everyone else's."

As you inevitably become gripped with Kona fever, you may be wondering what you can do to nab a spot at triathlon’s crown jewel. Every day leading up to the 2017 Ironman World Championship, we’re profiling age group athletes who’ve earned a ticket to the sport’s grandest stage so you can read about their journey, race plans, personality, gear—everything it took to make these athletes Kona material. Read their stories here and then get ready to cheer for them on race day!

Name: Katie Aguilar
Age: 41
Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Occupation: Product Manager
Race bike: Felt IA4 in matte black
Race number: 1542
Sponsors/supporters: Sponsored by Podium Multisport and competes on the Dynamo Multisport team
How I qualified: “I qualified at Ironman Santa Rosa on July 29, 2017. This was my 7th Ironman. And 6th where I had the goal to work to Kona. I knew it would be a process. And it was. A 5.5 year one!”

On what it took to qualify… 
“Grit! It took a lot of patience, trying, building, and learning to get here. A lot of friends. I met many amazing people. The support of many including my husband. So he needed grit too!”

On her Kona goal…
“To race strong, mentally and physically. I have no time goal. But to be proud at the end of the effort I put in. I put together a solid race at Santa Rosa, and I can do it again.”

Her Kona fueling plan… 
“It’s a hodgepodge which includes Osmo preload and water the morning of, as well as a few Honey Stinger chews before the swim. Once out of the water, I plan on my custom Infinit mix for the first four and a half hours and then on course nutrition, along with water throughout and as needed. I will have a couple of emergency Clif chocolate gels in my pocket in case. On the run, I will start with my custom Infinit run mix (chocolate) on my hydration belt along with course nutrition (water, pretzels, maybe potato chips). I will bring Coke in on the latter part as well.”

Average sleep per night…
“I average about seven hours per night.”

Advice for Kona dreamers…
“To get there you need to have courage. Not heroic courage, but courage for everyday life and making the decisions to sacrifice some opportunities for this goal and opportunity. You have to love the lifestyle and not want to do what others are doing, because you won’t be. So love what you get to do every day to get to Kona. And accept your story. Love your story. It will be different from everyone else’s. Listen to the stories of others. They love their story as well.”