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Can Some Triathlete Tackle the Kona/Chicago/Boston Triple in October?

The Ironman World Championship, Chicago Marathon, and Boston Marathon are scheduled for back-to-back-to-back days. A few runners are planning on taking on both marathons, but is it possible to triple up for the ultimate 72 hours of endurance?

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For the second year in a row, we’re witnessing major spring races being postponed until fall—but this time around, there’s hope they’ll actually happen and dedicated athletes are starting to circle key dates on their calendars. Plus, cramming so many events into such a small window will make for a few jam-packed weekends of endurance later this year, and there’s none bigger than the second weekend of October when the Ironman World Championship, Chicago Marathon, and Boston Marathon will happen over three consecutive days (Saturday, Sunday, Monday).

Some in the marathon community have been mulling the possibilities of a once-in-a-lifetime Chicago/Boston double-header. Of course, triathletes then immediately wanted to take that up a notch. Would a Kona/Chicago/Boston back-to-back-to-back trifecta be possible? 

Spoiler: It’s probably not, but only by a matter of a couple of hours. 

That may be a good thing, though, because if there were actually a way for some wealthy Type A triathlete to attempt all three races in 72 hours, you can be sure someone would. The type of people who qualify for Kona and Boston in the same year tend to take things to extremes. 

Here’s why it’s likely not even a possibility, however: The last commercial flight out of Kona on Saturday afternoon that could get someone to Chicago just in time for the marathon start is at 3:19 p.m. (There are no longer direct flights from Kona to Chicago, so you’d have to catch a flight that stops over in San Francisco.) Only a handful of pro men will finish on the Big Island before that United Airlines flight takes off. Certainly none would have time to make it to the airport, which isn’t exactly easy to get to on race day anyway as the bike course cuts it off. 

While the flight time and five time zones make doing both Kona and Chicago fairly impossible, there’s still the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone to complete Kona and Boston—the crown jewels of triathlon and marathon—in 72 hours. Granted, that person would have to be crazy enough to get on a plane immediately after finishing an Ironman, instead of relaxing and partying in Hawaii. Finishing in 11 hours would give them plenty of time to catch the 10:04 p.m. red eye to LAX, arriving at 6:13 a.m. on Saturday morning. After a quick layover, you could be in Boston in time for packet pick-up. With the late (10 a.m.) start in Boston on Monday, you could even get a decent night of sleep before starting to run again.

We know there’s someone crazy enough to do it. There might even be someone crazy and rich enough to charter a private plane from Hawaii, giving them an extra two or three hours (and maybe even, unfortunately, putting Chicago back on the table). While we don’t necessarily condone the insanity, if anyone does get to attempt two of the three races in the same weekend, it’ll be a good sign that things are getting back to the old normal in the triathlon world. 

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