Racing Kona | The Specialized Zwift Academy Team

(soft orchestral music) – [Narrator] Kona, the
big island of Hawaii. Lying 3,816 Kilometres off the coast of mainland United States. Most of the year, life of the inhabitants is relatively normal. (orchestral music) Then, once a year, the
triathlon hones it’s sight on the tropical island. And if you haven’t seen it before, it’s quite the spectacle. (upbeat drum and bass beat) Over 2,300 athletes from over 82 countries bringing with them friends,
family and supporters to take part in the biggest event in the sport of triathlon. The Iron Man World Champs. (groovy techno music) Among the competitors are three athletes that some of our viewers
might just recognise. They are (soft drum beat) Rachael Norfleet, age group
18-24 in her second time at Kona. Golo Rohrken, age group 30
to 34 also in his second time on the big island. Bex Rimmington, 30 to 34 age group. Her first time at Kona, and
only her second ever Iron Man. (reel whirs) Oh, and Tim Don. – Hello is the sound
good, is the sound good? – [Narrator] Back strong, after a horrific accident here last year. Competing himself, as well as
coaching the Zwift athletes. Of the four competitors that started out, only three have made it to Kona. Gurt, who we got to know
in our previous video only just missed out
in his qualifying race as Golo explains. – [Golo] He started to get some cramps, and he had some problems
with his nutrition plan and then he had to walk for some case. I was on the road and I was seeing him and it was quite sad for me to see that he’s not going to make it. But, I mean, what is great
is that he qualified, that he just finished the race, he finished the race I
think in 10th position in his age group, but it’s
just cool that you see how passionate Gurt is about triathlon that he’s just trying to
give everything that he’s got on race day. (grim instrumental) – [Narrator] With the help
of Swift and Specialised the remaining three athletes
have battled, struggled, and succeeded in qualifying for the most famous
triathlon race on the planet Here is their Kona story. After GTN met all the
athletes for the first time in California, they’ve
all been training hard and competing to qualify for Kona. Bex, who at the time
had never even completed an Iron Man, reflects on
what she has learned so far. – It’s been incredible this
last year, working with the swift academy as well,
I’m a complete newbie, novice, everything to the discipline, so having the help and
support of everyone here has been unbelievable. So yeah, it’s been an incredible year, don’t think I can top it to be fair, it’s been crazy, really enjoyed it. If it doesn’t happen again, I want to make this opportunity count, definitely. (inspiring music) – [Tim Don] We’ve been
together now for a week, two days in Los Angeles,
and then Kona for five days. Everyone seems relaxed, calm. For Rachael and Golo it’s
not their first rodeo, not their first Kona, but for Bex it is and I’ve been really impressed, Bex has not got caught up in the hype, she’s been enjoying herself
but being really focused. Rachael and Golo, they’ve
been familiarising themselves back with the course again. There’s some good vibes at
the Zwift house in the moment. (soft new-wave music) – Anytime you do something
you just wanna improve upon it so I think that’s why
I wanted to race again. – Kona for me is like, a
lifetime goal to compete well on this island. I mean, it’s the world
championship, which is also why I really want to
do well on this island. (waves crashing) – [Narrator] Kona, despite its beauty doesn’t shelter its vistas
from the overbearing heat. Even those who are accustomed to training in humid conditions, battle
with the island’s temperatures. And for those competitors
who come from places where the summer is coming to a close, Kona can have a habit of
exposing that vulnerability. – It’s hot here, it’s humid. You know most people haven’t come from this kind of weather. All these guys have come from Europe and North America where
the summer’s ending. So yeah, I just think those
extra couple of hours a day on your feet, in the heat and humidity, looking at everyone’s ripped
physique and what not (laughs) Everyone looks like a pro,
so I’ve been impressed that I’ve seen them with their
feet up, hydrating, relaxing, looking after their equipment, and yeah kind of getting ready
for battle on Saturday. (alarm clock ring) (soft instrumental) – I think you should always
be scared racing an iron man, a little bit. I think that having a little bit of fear is what makes it fun. You try to control what you can and roll with what you can’t. – There are just some parts of the course, like the energy lap, where
you know it’s gonna be hard. But it’s the same for
every athlete here I think. (melodic music) – [Tim Don] You know, I
think you gotta be worried about everything, but
worried about nothing. It’s a brutal race, an Iron Man, but in these weather conditions,
the heat, the humidity, the wind. You know, these guys qualified
in a race where they finished top 5 or won their age group, but this is everyone who finished top 5 or won their age group in all the races, so the competition is gonna be fierce. So a guy needs a different dynamics that they’re not used to. So I think they’ve just
gotta be respectful of the course and the competition and just focus on themselves. It’s the world’s championship, but don’t do anything different. They really need to just
focus on getting the best out of themselves. Is it gonna be easy, no, is
it gonna be hard, absolutely. If it wasn’t hard, we wouldn’t
call it the world champs. – [Golo] Racing in Kona
is always, I would say, a special atmosphere. You always have like,
nobody’s really talking, and it’s really like a calm atmosphere. I always try to calm down
and always try to focus on the task that’s just in front of me. – Yesterday morning I
was excited, and anxious, kind of typical race day feelings. – [Golo] I would say I had a good swim, I really had a good start and was able to get away from the pack and that’s quite important in Kona because there are lots of people
swimming in the same level as you. – Went on to the bike, got into a rhythm. It’s really difficult
to know how to pace it, ’cause the dynamics of the
race are very different, so you have to stay alert the whole time. It was very different, you
had to stay switched on. – [Narrator] Bex, although disappointed, posted a really respectful
time of 10 hours, 47 minutes, and 35 seconds, and remarkably, broke her fastest ever swim time. Golo, amazingly went on to be
his fastest ever Iron Man time coming in under the nine hour barrier, with a time of eight hours,
57 minutes and 25 seconds. Unfortunately, Rachael
suffered problems on the run and was not able to finish her race. – [Rachael] I was having a great race, I felt like I was fairly
smart with my effort. I kinda ran into some
trouble about halfway, and that’s kinda when things went south. So on the run I was just
trying to take in sodium, I knew that’s what I needed. But I think it was just a little too late and just ended my race at
mile eleven on the run. I had walked for three I
kind of told myself like, this is fine. You’re gonna honour the race,
you’re gonna walk the marathon and that’s fine. (laughs) But then I got to a point
where everything was puffy, I actually had to take off my watch because I was so swollen. Things were cramping, and
then my back started spasming. And that was kind of the point
where I knew I needed help and the medical team was concerned and knew I was hyponatremic and they just wanted to
get me off the course and kind of check my levels. I thought it was the
right call at the time, and still think it was the right call now but it’s disappointing either way. Not my best showing, but
I think that’s kind of part of the sport. You have good days and bad days and you learn from every experience. You’re either winning
or learning (laughs), isn’t that the phrase,
something like that. (inspirational music) – Kona is brutal. Anyone can come here in the
best shape of their lives, having had the perfect
season and it can break you. Just getting here in itself
is absolutely phenomenal. Yeah, I think everyone in the academy can hold their head up high because I saw Golo on the run and I saw Bex as well on the
run which was quite nice. They were digging in and
they were hurting, as was I. Did we come here to get on the
podium, the academy athletes? Absolutely, but sports is brutal and Kona, it can break the best of athletes. So I’m really proud of what they achieved, and how they went about achieving it. I think they can all
hold their head up high. – [Bex] The Zwift academy
has just been unbelievable. From getting that first e-mail and everything that’s happened since. Literally just been on
the crest of a wave, it’s been unbelievable, it’s been so good. – I think having the support
of the team was monumental in my season, I mean
it was just so awesome to have those friendships
and obviously the bike. They did everything that they
could to help us succeed, but I think overall the
team has been the best part of all of this. – [Narrator] It’s been
fantastic getting to know the athletes this past year and excitingly the doors
will soon be opening for the 2019 Zwift Triathlon Academy. – [Tim Don] Apply for it, absolutely. It’s an academy that’s
going to hopefully grow, and I think there might
be something different next year in the academy as well. I know the guys in Zwift and Specialise, they’re working on, just to be a part of the process on Zwift, there’s gonna be a lot
more run and bike specific programmes for triathletes
that we’re all working on in the background and
hopefully it’s gonna be a bigger academy, be more exciting. I can highly recommend applying for it, because, why not? You have absolutely nothing to lose. (soft instrumental)

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