Torbjørn Sindballe: What Does It Take To Win In Kona?
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Torbjørn Sindballe describes a few general characteristics that he believes will most likely describe the winner of the Ironman World Championship.
Written by: Torbjørn Sindballe
Body And skills
Swimming is by far the most technical discipline in triathlon. Coordinating movement in two different planes, body rotation as well as sensory feedback from an element other than air, is extremely difficult to learn at an age above the golden 9-12 year range. So our Kona champ will most likely have a background of elite swimming in his youth which will allow him to stay in one of the first two packs without getting too smashed.
The cycle leg favors the big engine, powerful riders. It is often windy and the hills are gradual and not too steep so it is more about raw power than light weight. Powerful quads and gluts, a big aerobic engine, and good aerodynamics are what you need to ride fast down Queen K.
The run is sweltering hot and the lighter athletes have a very clear advantage. In Kona conditions you pay close to five sec/mile for every kilogram so our top runner will have to be light and besides that have the strength and technique to run efficiently in the last 10 miles where fatigue is ever present.
Triathlon is probably the sport with the highest total training volume. Being able to tire different muscles in different disciplines as well as practicing skills across the board is one monumental task. Not only will it take years of building up your body to handle the stress it will also take years to build the knowledge and routines to truly excel in three different sports at the same time.
A lot of the race is won on preparation, morphology and skills which alone require high level mental skills to develop and execute. Any athlete who can cross off these things on the list is in with a good chance and will often end up the winner on this base alone. Sometimes however it comes down to the last 5 or 10K where everyone is equally tired and the mind makes the difference. This is where it takes that little extra to dig that little deeper and take it home. It is about more than just wanting it. It is about the most basic feelings of need and hunger. The athlete who needs it the most and can channel that urge in to positive belief will succeed.