In honor of what would have been Ironman World Championship race week, we asked several photographers to share their top images from shooting the iconic event. Today, Witsup.com’s Stef Hanson shares her favorite images from the Big Island. She includes a few images from the race, as well as some of her favorites from the days leading up to the big day.
2106 – Natascha Badmann was one of the first women I knew of when I found out about Ironman Hawaii. I tried my best in the lead up to race day in 2016 to connect with her to get some photos of her training. Unfortunately, language barriers and wifi issues meant we never managed to connect. However, when I was out on the climb to Hawi taking photos of other athletes, I saw her climbing in the TT position on her ‘Cheetah bike’, in her full race kit, and her bike sticker already attached. A bit of a fan-girl moment.
2017 – This is a personal one. Our best mate Mark Bosworth had finally qualified for Kona. He arrived on the island with his wife and seven week old—fair to say it was a tough build up to the world champs for him with a newborn, but they made it family adventure. We were all disappointed that my husband and Mark’s training buddy for years—his “Obi-Wan Kanobe”—Brett, couldn’t be there to support. But Brett and I had organized to surprise him and arranged Mark to do a point-to-point ride on the Queen K. I picked Brett up from the airport on the way to pick up Mark. Threw him out of the car, and this is how we surprised him.
2019 – Rinny is always one of the most wanted athletes on the island, and she always finds ways to make sure she can fit in as many media opportunities as possible. In this photo, I am hanging out the side of a car, shooting through the gap between the sliding door and car. There were about eight people in this car from different media outlets.
2017 – I just love the contrast of this photo. The fastest swimmer on the island, Lucy Charles-Barclay, sharing a lane with a local who is doing some aqua jogging. I just find this very humbling.
2019 – The small church at the end of Ali’i drive. This used to be close to the run turn around on Ali’i drive (which has now changed).
2018 – I often refer to Corbs as the people’s champion, and I love that this photo sums that up. I was frustrated at the time that the other photographer jumped right into my shot that I had waited for, but now I like to think that it adds to the image.
2019 – We spend hours riding and driving up and down the Queen K in the days and weeks leading into race day, so picking a favorite is hard. I like this one because the time of day was perfect to get the colors in the sky and the shadow spread out across the road. Everything pops in this photo, including Sarah’s smile.
2019 – I managed to snap this photo in the final stretch of the marathon along the Queen K. Sarah had just passed Lucy to move into second place. Zoom in on Lucy’s face. I thought she was done and Sarah would claim second, with Lucy in third. Just after this photo, I jumped on the pushy to fly back to the finish line—it’s always a fine line as to how long I stay out on course and still give myself enough time to get back to the finish. Little did I know that by the time the women made it to the finish, Lucy would have clawed back to finish in second over Sarah in third.
Typically at this point in the women’s race, the majority of other photographers and media have already made their way back to the finish line for the men, so unfortunately, a lot of the exciting parts of the women’s race can be missed! So, I’m glad I stay out on the course for longer than most, I just then have to fight my way for a position at the finish.
2015 – I spend a lot of time with athletes in the weeks leading into race day in Kona. One of my all time favorite times was spent in the pool watching Jodie Cunnama fly through the water. This was my favorite snap from my time under water with her.
2016 – Leanda Cave had shown me this hidden swimming pool, so I went down with a mate, Andrea Hopkin, to see what we could create during one of Kona’s famous sunsets.
2017 – I’d love to say that this was intentional, but flying a drone, nailing the settings and hitting the trigger at the exact moment that Heather Jackson made that slap on the water, was a bit of a fluke. It’s one of my all-time favorite photos that I’ve found hard to replicate.
2014 – Two of my favorites Mirinda Carfrae and Rachel Joyce shared the podium in 2014—Rinny, first and Joycey, third. Moments after Rach crossed the finish, Mark Allen and Dave Scott walked over to both women. Legends.
2016 – Race morning at the King Kam pool. So many pros mingle here before making their way to the race start. I just like watching and being a part of the vibe at this time in the morning. The camera was set to a slow shutter speed which is what the trees look blurry, suggesting there was a bit of wind that morning.
2016 – I was just hanging out on the jetty with the age groupers who were getting ready to make their way down to the beach for race start. I just like this capture of an athlete who managed to find a quieter spot to take a breath. With her hand up to her chin like that make me think she’s reflecting on the hard work to get her to the start line. And you know, water reflections.
2016 – I spent a bit of time with the Wurteles in 2016, and joined Heather and Trevor for one of their runs out of town. Post run, they both cooled down in this rock pool at sunset. There are worse ways to finish your working day.