Olympics Triathlon Slideshow

Olympic Triathlon Champion Gwen Jorgensen Shifts Focus To Marathoning for Tokyo 2020

Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen has decided to shift her focus to the marathon for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, she announced on Twitter.

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Jorgensen became the United States' first-ever Olympic gold medalist in the triathlon. She competed in the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon and ran 2:41:01 for her debut over 26.2 miles. She finished 14th overall among the elite women and was the sixth American across the finish line. She did not compete in the triathlon or run any marathon in 2017 to give birth to her first child. In May, Jorgensen, 31, told People magazine that she ran 100 miles in a week where she was seven months pregnant.

“USA Triathlon brought me into this sport, and now I’m incredibly privileged to step away at the top, with an Olympic gold medal," she said in a statement from USA Triathlon. "Though my near-future training will be focused on winning gold in the marathon in Tokyo, I will always be a part of the USA Triathlon family and look forward to embracing every opportunity to help grow the sport of triathlon. In fact, I hope this new adventure in running will play a big part in doing exactly that."

Watch her announcement below:

Before moving into the triathlon in 2010, Jorgensen was a runner and swimmer at Wisconsin. She was recruited to USA Triathlon's Collegiate Recruitment Program and also balanced a job with Ernst & Young. She left her job as a certified public accountant to focus on the triathlon full-time in 2011 and then competed at the 2012 Olympics in London. She finished 38th overall due to an unfortunate flat tire on the bike. She continued dominating on the ITU World Triathlon Series and won the world title in 2014 and 2015. In Rio, she battled with 2012 Olympic champion Nicola Spirig of Switzerland on the 10K run before pulling away in the final mile and a half to capture gold.

In order for Jorgensen to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic team in the marathon, she would need to qualify and then place within the top three of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Her decision to shift to the marathon comes just two days after Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to the New York City Marathon in 40 years. Flanagan, 36, has teased the possibility of retiring after accomplishing her bucket list goal of winning a major marathon.

AP Interview: Tokyo vows clean water for Olympic triathlon

Tokyo Organizing Committee CEO of the 2020 Olympics Toshiro Muto speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Tokyo Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. The top Tokyo Olympic organizer has pledged to keep water clean and safe at marathon swimming and triathlon venue where E. coli bacterial contamination has been detected during the summer, saying they are implementing measures that are showing improvement. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

AP Interview: Tokyo vows clean water for Olympic triathlon

Tokyo Organizing Committee CEO of the 2020 Olympics Toshiro Muto speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Tokyo Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. The top Tokyo Olympic organizer has pledged to keep water clean and safe at marathon swimming and triathlon venue where E. coli bacterial contamination has been detected during the summer, saying they are implementing measures that are showing improvement. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Pals set to complete 'ultimate triathlon' with 3,000 mile cross-Atlantic row

Pals set to complete 'ultimate triathlon' with 3,000 mile cross-Atlantic row

Pals set to complete 'ultimate triathlon' with 3,000 mile cross-Atlantic row

Pals set to complete 'ultimate triathlon' with 3,000 mile cross-Atlantic row

Pals set to complete 'ultimate triathlon' with 3,000 mile cross-Atlantic row

Pals set to complete 'ultimate triathlon' with 3,000 mile cross-Atlantic row

Patrick Lange, Daniela Ryf Set Records in Ironman World Championship Victories

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII – The Ironman World Championship is magical. This year, in both the men's and women's races, it was also record-setting.

Germany’s Patrick Lange finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile marathon in eight hours, one minute, 40 seconds on Saturday. Not only did Lange become world champion, he now holds the reigns to the overall course record, previously set by Australia’s Craig Alexander (8:03:56) in 2011. Consider this victory an encore for Lange, who only last year finished third in his Ironman World Championship pro debut, beating the 27-year old marathon course record set by the U.S.’s Mark Allen in 1989 with his 2:39:45 run.

“I’m overwhelmed and this is my life dream coming true,” said Lange, 31. “[During] the swim there was a lot of fighting, but I executed the swim like I wanted to.”

At the 21.6-mile mark of the marathon, the Frankfurt native closed the gap on Canada’s Lionel Sanders to one minute and 37 seconds and continued to chug, whizzing past Sanders at 23.4 miles. Lange never looked back and absorbed the energy that surrounds the notorious Kailua-Kona community at the famous Ali’i Drive finish.

“The bike was an interesting race dynamic with a lot of on and off,” Lange said. “It was really hard to stay on the bike [because of] conditions with the crosswinds. Then, I started the run feeling a little bit weak—I felt like it was a really hot day. At the aid station my body was a little overheating. But I found a good rhythm.”

Sanders, who finished second in 8:04:07, began the marathon crushing sub-six-minute miles during the initial trio and held the lead for a majority of race. Well, that’s until the Lange hammer struck in a painful way.

“This guy’s a freaking animal,” Sanders said jokingly of Lange. “It was a very humbling experience when I tried to go with him for a second … and it lasted about a second. This was the best fight I’ve ever been involved in.”

Climbing to the podium alongside Lange and Sanders was Great Britain’s David McNamee, who finished in 8:07:11.

“I remember looking at Patrick [at the finish] and he had that sheer look of ‘what just happened,’” McNamee said. “Give me five or six weeks and I’ll wake up and scream something when it really sinks in. I still can’t believe it.”

Two-time defending champion Jan Frodeno was plagued with injury in mile three of the run, but fought through the ailment and finished in 9:15:44.

Also finishing in the top five were German and 2014 world champion Sebastian Kienle (8:09:59) and South Africa’s James Cunnama (8:11:24).

“It really hurts to talk about a fourth place finish,” Kienle said after the race. “But I gave myself the chance. Before the race, my goal was to empty the tank and I did. I finished with nothing left.”

In the women’s race, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf completed the hat trick of world champions. The Swiss sensation captured her third connective victory on the Big Island with a stellar finish of 8:50:47. This victory comes just a year after she set a new women’s course record, crossing the finish in 8:46:46—a stat set in 2013 by three-time world champion, Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae.

“[Today] was the hottest I’ve ever felt,” said Ryf. “I got off on the run in a position I was totally surprised at. It was the most I had to fight with the wind. There were certainly times today I didn’t think it was possible.”

Interestingly, Ryf, who also is the gatekeeper of three Ironman 70.3 titles, was in third—behind Great Britain’s Lucy Charles and the U.S.’s Lauren Brandon—at the 100-mile mark of the bike, but zoomed to a first place 4:53:10 split.

“The whole bike was a rollercoaster of emotions,” said Ryf, who’s dubbed the Angry Bird. “I was struggling and trying to catch up but certainly didn’t think it would take me that long. Either I was going to lose this race or put the hammer down. I just went all in.”

Ryf, 30, became the first woman to three-peat since four-time world champion, Great Britain’s Chrissie Wellington, who did so in 2007-09. Following Ryf to the podium were Charles (8:59:38) and Australia’s Sarah Crowley (9:01:38).

“If anyone was going to tell me you’d finish second, I’d say, ‘I don’t think that’s possible,’” Charles said. “But everything all came together.”

The trio was followed at the finish by the U.S.’s Heather Jackson (9:02:29) and Finland’s Kaisa Sali (9:04:40). In 2015, the jackrabbit Jackson finished fifth, made her world championship pro debut and was the first U.S. woman to cross the finish. Last year, she encored in the spotlight by becoming the first stateswoman to podium at the world championship in 10 years—Desiree Ficker received the honor in 2006.

"Today, I improved my times in all three [areas], so I’m totally happy with that,” Jackson said with a confident smile. “It was a battle all day out there. That’s racing. It’s exciting.”

This year, more than 260,000 professional and age group athletes attempted to qualify for the Ironman World Championship either through worldwide Ironman (full-distance) or Ironman 70.3 (half-distance) races, or by legacy or lottery. There were more than 2,400 athletes, representing 66 countries, regions and territories, on six continents.

“It was a tough day,” Ryf said. “It was painful. There are days it’s not always coming for free—you have to fight through it.”

Dreams come true for 12-year-old aspiring Ironman

Earlier this September, 12-year-old Nicholas Purschke completed his first triathlon—a great accomplishment for any young athlete, but a particularly remarkable one for the St. Louis native.

Nicholas was diagnosed at birth with Cerebral Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) and completed a successful bone marrow transplant in August 2016. In less than a year from his transplant, Nicholas crushed the odds and returned to athletics, thanks to some inspiration from the world’s most elite triathletes.

“When I was in the hospital trying to keep my strength, working every day with PT, and not giving up—it’s kind of like what these athletes go through on their journey,” Nicholas says. “They inspired me to keep working, to not give up, to exercise every day … even if I wasn’t feeling well or in pain. Just like me, they keep going despite challenges.”

The Ironman Foundation teamed up with Make-A-Wish for the first time—not just at the world championship but at any of more than 200 Ironman events spread across 50 countries—to fulfill the dream of a Wish Kid. At this year’s race in Kona, Nicholas was able to see his heroes.

ALD, a deadly genetic disease that affects 1 in 18,000 people, triggers mostly preadolescent boys between the ages of four and 10, and isn’t specific to race, ethnicity or geographical location. The ailment destroys the protective sheath surrounding the brain’s neurons—known as myelin—and if left untreated can lead to blindness, seizures, loss of muscle control and dementia. Furthermore, generally within two to five years after its diagnosis, death or permanent disability will occur.

“Bone marrow transplant is the only treatment currently that stops the progression,” says Julie, Nicholas’ mom, who is a carrier of ALD. “At age 10, ALD had begun to creep into Nicholas’ ventricles in his brain, so he was recommended for transplant and typed for a match—a perfect match was found from an umbilical cord donor. Within one month of transplant, his disease was halted miraculously.”

The strong-willed Nicholas interacted with some of his favorite triathletes during race week, including Americans Ben Hoffman and Tim O’Donnell, and Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae. All four share a very familiar bond.

“I’m a big runner and really enjoy running—I’m trying to get up most mornings before school to run a couple of miles each day,” Nicholas says. “I just did my first triathlon and hope to do more—eventually do an Ironman, myself, and get to the championship someday.”

Only 12-years-old, Nicholas has proven that age holds no barrier on the strength of mental integrity and willingness to fight such a difficult battle. It takes a certain maturity to understand, accept and face the challenge with passion.

“He did not ask for this disease or this journey, but has tackled it with such determination, courage, strong and admirable faith, grace and positive attitude,” Julie says. “Nicholas was—and is—always looking for ways to improve himself, and become better and stronger at anything he does. That’s how he has faced this disease.”

To learn more and find out how you can get involved with Make-A-Wish in your local community, visit wish.org.

Patrick Lange, Daniela Ryf Set Records in Ironman World Championship Victories

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII – The Ironman World Championship is magical. This year, in both the men's and women's races, it was also record-setting.

Germany’s Patrick Lange finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile marathon in eight hours, one minute, 40 seconds on Saturday. Not only did Lange become world champion, he now holds the reigns to the overall course record, previously set by Australia’s Craig Alexander (8:03:56) in 2011. Consider this victory an encore for Lange, who only last year finished third in his Ironman World Championship pro debut, beating the 27-year old marathon course record set by the U.S.’s Mark Allen in 1989 with his 2:39:45 run.

“I’m overwhelmed and this is my life dream coming true,” said Lange, 31. “[During] the swim there was a lot of fighting, but I executed the swim like I wanted to.”

At the 21.6-mile mark of the marathon, the Frankfurt native closed the gap on Canada’s Lionel Sanders to one minute and 37 seconds and continued to chug, whizzing past Sanders at 23.4 miles. Lange never looked back and absorbed the energy that surrounds the notorious Kailua-Kona community at the famous Ali’i Drive finish.

“The bike was an interesting race dynamic with a lot of on and off,” Lange said. “It was really hard to stay on the bike [because of] conditions with the crosswinds. Then, I started the run feeling a little bit weak—I felt like it was a really hot day. At the aid station my body was a little overheating. But I found a good rhythm.”

Sanders, who finished second in 8:04:07, began the marathon crushing sub-six-minute miles during the initial trio and held the lead for a majority of race. Well, that’s until the Lange hammer struck in a painful way.

“This guy’s a freaking animal,” Sanders said jokingly of Lange. “It was a very humbling experience when I tried to go with him for a second … and it lasted about a second. This was the best fight I’ve ever been involved in.”

Climbing to the podium alongside Lange and Sanders was Great Britain’s David McNamee, who finished in 8:07:11.

“I remember looking at Patrick [at the finish] and he had that sheer look of ‘what just happened,’” McNamee said. “Give me five or six weeks and I’ll wake up and scream something when it really sinks in. I still can’t believe it.”

Two-time defending champion Jan Frodeno was plagued with injury in mile three of the run, but fought through the ailment and finished in 9:15:44.

Also finishing in the top five were German and 2014 world champion Sebastian Kienle (8:09:59) and South Africa’s James Cunnama (8:11:24).

“It really hurts to talk about a fourth place finish,” Kienle said after the race. “But I gave myself the chance. Before the race, my goal was to empty the tank and I did. I finished with nothing left.”

In the women’s race, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf completed the hat trick of world champions. The Swiss sensation captured her third connective victory on the Big Island with a stellar finish of 8:50:47. This victory comes just a year after she set a new women’s course record, crossing the finish in 8:46:46—a stat set in 2013 by three-time world champion, Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae.

“[Today] was the hottest I’ve ever felt,” said Ryf. “I got off on the run in a position I was totally surprised at. It was the most I had to fight with the wind. There were certainly times today I didn’t think it was possible.”

Interestingly, Ryf, who also is the gatekeeper of three Ironman 70.3 titles, was in third—behind Great Britain’s Lucy Charles and the U.S.’s Lauren Brandon—at the 100-mile mark of the bike, but zoomed to a first place 4:53:10 split.

“The whole bike was a rollercoaster of emotions,” said Ryf, who’s dubbed the Angry Bird. “I was struggling and trying to catch up but certainly didn’t think it would take me that long. Either I was going to lose this race or put the hammer down. I just went all in.”

Ryf, 30, became the first woman to three-peat since four-time world champion, Great Britain’s Chrissie Wellington, who did so in 2007-09. Following Ryf to the podium were Charles (8:59:38) and Australia’s Sarah Crowley (9:01:38).

“If anyone was going to tell me you’d finish second, I’d say, ‘I don’t think that’s possible,’” Charles said. “But everything all came together.”

The trio was followed at the finish by the U.S.’s Heather Jackson (9:02:29) and Finland’s Kaisa Sali (9:04:40). In 2015, the jackrabbit Jackson finished fifth, made her world championship pro debut and was the first U.S. woman to cross the finish. Last year, she encored in the spotlight by becoming the first stateswoman to podium at the world championship in 10 years—Desiree Ficker received the honor in 2006.

"Today, I improved my times in all three [areas], so I’m totally happy with that,” Jackson said with a confident smile. “It was a battle all day out there. That’s racing. It’s exciting.”

This year, more than 260,000 professional and age group athletes attempted to qualify for the Ironman World Championship either through worldwide Ironman (full-distance) or Ironman 70.3 (half-distance) races, or by legacy or lottery. There were more than 2,400 athletes, representing 66 countries, regions and territories, on six continents.

“It was a tough day,” Ryf said. “It was painful. There are days it’s not always coming for free—you have to fight through it.”

Dreams come true for 12-year-old aspiring Ironman

Earlier this September, 12-year-old Nicholas Purschke completed his first triathlon—a great accomplishment for any young athlete, but a particularly remarkable one for the St. Louis native.

Nicholas was diagnosed at birth with Cerebral Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) and completed a successful bone marrow transplant in August 2016. In less than a year from his transplant, Nicholas crushed the odds and returned to athletics, thanks to some inspiration from the world’s most elite triathletes.

“When I was in the hospital trying to keep my strength, working every day with PT, and not giving up—it’s kind of like what these athletes go through on their journey,” Nicholas says. “They inspired me to keep working, to not give up, to exercise every day … even if I wasn’t feeling well or in pain. Just like me, they keep going despite challenges.”

The Ironman Foundation teamed up with Make-A-Wish for the first time—not just at the world championship but at any of more than 200 Ironman events spread across 50 countries—to fulfill the dream of a Wish Kid. At this year’s race in Kona, Nicholas was able to see his heroes.

ALD, a deadly genetic disease that affects 1 in 18,000 people, triggers mostly preadolescent boys between the ages of four and 10, and isn’t specific to race, ethnicity or geographical location. The ailment destroys the protective sheath surrounding the brain’s neurons—known as myelin—and if left untreated can lead to blindness, seizures, loss of muscle control and dementia. Furthermore, generally within two to five years after its diagnosis, death or permanent disability will occur.

“Bone marrow transplant is the only treatment currently that stops the progression,” says Julie, Nicholas’ mom, who is a carrier of ALD. “At age 10, ALD had begun to creep into Nicholas’ ventricles in his brain, so he was recommended for transplant and typed for a match—a perfect match was found from an umbilical cord donor. Within one month of transplant, his disease was halted miraculously.”

The strong-willed Nicholas interacted with some of his favorite triathletes during race week, including Americans Ben Hoffman and Tim O’Donnell, and Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae. All four share a very familiar bond.

“I’m a big runner and really enjoy running—I’m trying to get up most mornings before school to run a couple of miles each day,” Nicholas says. “I just did my first triathlon and hope to do more—eventually do an Ironman, myself, and get to the championship someday.”

Only 12-years-old, Nicholas has proven that age holds no barrier on the strength of mental integrity and willingness to fight such a difficult battle. It takes a certain maturity to understand, accept and face the challenge with passion.

“He did not ask for this disease or this journey, but has tackled it with such determination, courage, strong and admirable faith, grace and positive attitude,” Julie says. “Nicholas was—and is—always looking for ways to improve himself, and become better and stronger at anything he does. That’s how he has faced this disease.”

To learn more and find out how you can get involved with Make-A-Wish in your local community, visit wish.org.

Patrick Lange, Daniela Ryf Set Records in Ironman World Championship Victories

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII – The Ironman World Championship is magical. This year, in both the men's and women's races, it was also record-setting.

Germany’s Patrick Lange finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile marathon in eight hours, one minute, 40 seconds on Saturday. Not only did Lange become world champion, he now holds the reigns to the overall course record, previously set by Australia’s Craig Alexander (8:03:56) in 2011. Consider this victory an encore for Lange, who only last year finished third in his Ironman World Championship pro debut, beating the 27-year old marathon course record set by the U.S.’s Mark Allen in 1989 with his 2:39:45 run.

“I’m overwhelmed and this is my life dream coming true,” said Lange, 31. “[During] the swim there was a lot of fighting, but I executed the swim like I wanted to.”

At the 21.6-mile mark of the marathon, the Frankfurt native closed the gap on Canada’s Lionel Sanders to one minute and 37 seconds and continued to chug, whizzing past Sanders at 23.4 miles. Lange never looked back and absorbed the energy that surrounds the notorious Kailua-Kona community at the famous Ali’i Drive finish.

“The bike was an interesting race dynamic with a lot of on and off,” Lange said. “It was really hard to stay on the bike [because of] conditions with the crosswinds. Then, I started the run feeling a little bit weak—I felt like it was a really hot day. At the aid station my body was a little overheating. But I found a good rhythm.”

Sanders, who finished second in 8:04:07, began the marathon crushing sub-six-minute miles during the initial trio and held the lead for a majority of race. Well, that’s until the Lange hammer struck in a painful way.

“This guy’s a freaking animal,” Sanders said jokingly of Lange. “It was a very humbling experience when I tried to go with him for a second … and it lasted about a second. This was the best fight I’ve ever been involved in.”

Climbing to the podium alongside Lange and Sanders was Great Britain’s David McNamee, who finished in 8:07:11.

“I remember looking at Patrick [at the finish] and he had that sheer look of ‘what just happened,’” McNamee said. “Give me five or six weeks and I’ll wake up and scream something when it really sinks in. I still can’t believe it.”

Two-time defending champion Jan Frodeno was plagued with injury in mile three of the run, but fought through the ailment and finished in 9:15:44.

Also finishing in the top five were German and 2014 world champion Sebastian Kienle (8:09:59) and South Africa’s James Cunnama (8:11:24).

“It really hurts to talk about a fourth place finish,” Kienle said after the race. “But I gave myself the chance. Before the race, my goal was to empty the tank and I did. I finished with nothing left.”

In the women’s race, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf completed the hat trick of world champions. The Swiss sensation captured her third connective victory on the Big Island with a stellar finish of 8:50:47. This victory comes just a year after she set a new women’s course record, crossing the finish in 8:46:46—a stat set in 2013 by three-time world champion, Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae.

“[Today] was the hottest I’ve ever felt,” said Ryf. “I got off on the run in a position I was totally surprised at. It was the most I had to fight with the wind. There were certainly times today I didn’t think it was possible.”

Interestingly, Ryf, who also is the gatekeeper of three Ironman 70.3 titles, was in third—behind Great Britain’s Lucy Charles and the U.S.’s Lauren Brandon—at the 100-mile mark of the bike, but zoomed to a first place 4:53:10 split.

“The whole bike was a rollercoaster of emotions,” said Ryf, who’s dubbed the Angry Bird. “I was struggling and trying to catch up but certainly didn’t think it would take me that long. Either I was going to lose this race or put the hammer down. I just went all in.”

Ryf, 30, became the first woman to three-peat since four-time world champion, Great Britain’s Chrissie Wellington, who did so in 2007-09. Following Ryf to the podium were Charles (8:59:38) and Australia’s Sarah Crowley (9:01:38).

“If anyone was going to tell me you’d finish second, I’d say, ‘I don’t think that’s possible,’” Charles said. “But everything all came together.”

The trio was followed at the finish by the U.S.’s Heather Jackson (9:02:29) and Finland’s Kaisa Sali (9:04:40). In 2015, the jackrabbit Jackson finished fifth, made her world championship pro debut and was the first U.S. woman to cross the finish. Last year, she encored in the spotlight by becoming the first stateswoman to podium at the world championship in 10 years—Desiree Ficker received the honor in 2006.

"Today, I improved my times in all three [areas], so I’m totally happy with that,” Jackson said with a confident smile. “It was a battle all day out there. That’s racing. It’s exciting.”

This year, more than 260,000 professional and age group athletes attempted to qualify for the Ironman World Championship either through worldwide Ironman (full-distance) or Ironman 70.3 (half-distance) races, or by legacy or lottery. There were more than 2,400 athletes, representing 66 countries, regions and territories, on six continents.

“It was a tough day,” Ryf said. “It was painful. There are days it’s not always coming for free—you have to fight through it.”

Dreams come true for 12-year-old aspiring Ironman

Earlier this September, 12-year-old Nicholas Purschke completed his first triathlon—a great accomplishment for any young athlete, but a particularly remarkable one for the St. Louis native.

Nicholas was diagnosed at birth with Cerebral Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) and completed a successful bone marrow transplant in August 2016. In less than a year from his transplant, Nicholas crushed the odds and returned to athletics, thanks to some inspiration from the world’s most elite triathletes.

“When I was in the hospital trying to keep my strength, working every day with PT, and not giving up—it’s kind of like what these athletes go through on their journey,” Nicholas says. “They inspired me to keep working, to not give up, to exercise every day … even if I wasn’t feeling well or in pain. Just like me, they keep going despite challenges.”

The Ironman Foundation teamed up with Make-A-Wish for the first time—not just at the world championship but at any of more than 200 Ironman events spread across 50 countries—to fulfill the dream of a Wish Kid. At this year’s race in Kona, Nicholas was able to see his heroes.

ALD, a deadly genetic disease that affects 1 in 18,000 people, triggers mostly preadolescent boys between the ages of four and 10, and isn’t specific to race, ethnicity or geographical location. The ailment destroys the protective sheath surrounding the brain’s neurons—known as myelin—and if left untreated can lead to blindness, seizures, loss of muscle control and dementia. Furthermore, generally within two to five years after its diagnosis, death or permanent disability will occur.

“Bone marrow transplant is the only treatment currently that stops the progression,” says Julie, Nicholas’ mom, who is a carrier of ALD. “At age 10, ALD had begun to creep into Nicholas’ ventricles in his brain, so he was recommended for transplant and typed for a match—a perfect match was found from an umbilical cord donor. Within one month of transplant, his disease was halted miraculously.”

The strong-willed Nicholas interacted with some of his favorite triathletes during race week, including Americans Ben Hoffman and Tim O’Donnell, and Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae. All four share a very familiar bond.

“I’m a big runner and really enjoy running—I’m trying to get up most mornings before school to run a couple of miles each day,” Nicholas says. “I just did my first triathlon and hope to do more—eventually do an Ironman, myself, and get to the championship someday.”

Only 12-years-old, Nicholas has proven that age holds no barrier on the strength of mental integrity and willingness to fight such a difficult battle. It takes a certain maturity to understand, accept and face the challenge with passion.

“He did not ask for this disease or this journey, but has tackled it with such determination, courage, strong and admirable faith, grace and positive attitude,” Julie says. “Nicholas was—and is—always looking for ways to improve himself, and become better and stronger at anything he does. That’s how he has faced this disease.”

To learn more and find out how you can get involved with Make-A-Wish in your local community, visit wish.org.

Ronnie Schildknecht, of Switzerland rides in the bicycle

Ronnie Schildknecht, of Switzerland, rides in the bicycle segment of the Ironman World Championship Triathlon, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Everything You Need to Know About the 2017 Ironman World Championships in Kona

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII — As over 2,400 of the world’s most elite athletes enter the waters of Kailua Bay on Oct. 14, they’ll have their hearts set on a prize that goes far beyond stepping—or crawling—over a finish line. When their bodies tell them “no,” their inner drive to accomplish a goal that’s far beyond any expectation mankind ever intended, will continuously strum a “yes” chord. They simply yearn to become “one of the ones.”

For the competitors in the 2017 Ironman World Championship, their backgrounds are vast and furious, ranging from world champion professionals, to those who are fighting Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and just looking for the race “to help close the door gracefully, with passion, having lived a wonderful life,” such as Carlsbad, Calif., native Mike Levine.

The race’s 2.4-mile swim through the ever-changing currents of Kailua Bay, 112-mile bike while being surrounded by heat-soaking lava rock and 45 mph head- and cross-winds, and 26.2-mile marathon in shirt-soaking humidity, makes the world championship arguably the planet’s most difficult single-day sporting event.

“Last year was my toughest race here on the island,” says Germany’s Jan Frodeno, who is looking for his third consecutive victory on the Big Island. “It was a constant fight—with me and the elements. At the finish line, I was so happy that it was over. It took a long while [before] I was able to enjoy it.”

Interestingly, in 2015, Frodeno also captured a piece of triathlon history, becoming the first Ironman competitor to capture the sport’s triple crown—he previously won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was victorious at the 2015 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

“My goal is always to win,” Frodeno says. “As a two-time champion, the people are also expecting it. But winning is never easy—the pressure is on me. I am fighting not to lose, and perform at my very best.”

But looking to grab the tails of Frodeno will be countryman and 2014 champion Sebastian Kienle. The duo was arm-to-arm for the first 5 miles of last year’s marathon, before Frodeno broke away and led Kienle by one minute, 30 seconds midway through the run.

Look no further than last year’s women’s world champion, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf, who is aiming for a three-peat. In 2016, the Swiss sensation set a new Ironman World Championship women’s course record—a stat set in 2013 by second place finisher and three-time world champion, Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae.

“I [would] like to go out there and show the best performance my body can offer this year,” Ryf says. “There are many young women racing in Kona for the first time, as well as some fast swimmers, so I don’t expect to be up front from the start—but certainly will push to catch [them] on the bike.”

?

Ryf has been struggling with a back injury since the spring, but appears confident that her mind and body are heading on the right pavement.

“My year has been a bit of a challenge, [but] I am happy with how I achieved to overcome with the help of my coach,” she says. “I spent the last three weeks training in Maui and am happy with my progress—I put all I had in these last months.”

But for Ryf, the threat of Carfrae and her explosive marathon skills are eliminated—for this year, at least. Carfrae gave birth to a baby girl, Isabelle, during the offseason and will focus on raising her daughter for the near future. But she’ll still be strutting around Kona—this time as a spectator, in support of her husband, Timothy O’Donnell, who was the top U.S. world championship finisher in 2013 and ‘15.

“It’s been a surreal year having a baby, without the pressure of racing,” Carfrae says. “I’ve raced full time since my early 20s, and when [I] first fell pregnant I was a little lost, without having the day-to-day structure and laser focus toward a specific goal. But it didn’t take long for me to let go as a professional athlete and enjoy the amazing process of a growing baby. I look forward to being back next year, but will enjoy Kona [this year] as a spectator and new mom.”

And now enter Heather Jackson. In 2015, the American made her world championship pro debut was the first stateswoman to cross the finish. But wait, there’s more. Last year, she encored by finishing third and became the first U.S. woman to podium in a decade.

“Last year I was absolutely ecstatic to earn myself a podium position behind two of the most dominant Ironman distance female triathletes of the past four to five years,” Jackson says. “You dream of days coming together like that, and it didn’t sink in for a few months that I earned third in the world.”

So how does Jackson plan on molding her own, unique triathlon hat trick? Simple. Preparation.

“I’m pretty excited right now,” she says. “I’ve had another whole year of practicing the longer Ironman distance—I feel like I know it better. I’m more comfortable with the distances and times the disciplines take, and my prep couldn’t have gone much better. I’m excited to see where that training can take me on race day.”

The Ironman World Championship was inaugurated Feb. 18, 1978, after combining Hawaii’s three toughest endurance races—the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112-mile Around-O’ahu Bike Race and 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon—and has grown from a competitor field of 15.

This year, approximately 260,000 professional and age group athletes attempted to qualify for the Ironman World Championship either through worldwide Ironman (full-distance) or Ironman 70.3 (half-distance) races, or by legacy or lottery. This year’s world championship field represents 66 countries, regions and territories on six continents—the largest international athlete field in Ironman World Championship history. Geographically, it’s most represented by 741 U.S. athletes, from 48 states, with the largest number coming from California, 113; Texas, 58; Colorado, 53; Hawaii, 50; and New York, 49. Internationally, Australia boasts 234 athletes, followed by Germany, 217; and Great Britain, 150.

“The motivation is to be the first running down Ali’i Drive toward the finish line,” Frodeno says. “I am striving for the perfect race, which I’ve never had here in Kona. But maybe this is the challenge—that you will never have a perfect race, and the guy with the strongest head will win.”

2017 IWC facts and figures, provided by Ironman

• 72% of participants (1,762 athletes) are male.

• 28% of participants (698 athletes) are female.

• 43 is the average age of registrants this year.

• Hiromu Inada (Japan) is the oldest participant at 84, while Paul Lennart (Denmark) is the youngest at 18.

• 11 athletes will be celebrating their birthday on race day.

• Five countries are sending athletes to the Ironman World Championship for the first time: Kazakhstan, Paraguay, Serbia, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.

• 1,001 competitors representing 390 different TriClubs from around the world are racing at this year’s Ironman World Championship and total 40.7 percent of the field.

• 1,530 athletes racing in this year’s Ironman World Championship are Ironman All World Athletes. Roughly 85 percent of the athletes racing represent the top 10 percent of age group athletes in the world.

• 20 new Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races were established in 2017

• More than 5,000 volunteers will help make the Ironman World Championship a success.

Everything You Need to Know About the 2017 Ironman World Championships in Kona

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII — As over 2,400 of the world’s most elite athletes enter the waters of Kailua Bay on Oct. 14, they’ll have their hearts set on a prize that goes far beyond stepping—or crawling—over a finish line. When their bodies tell them “no,” their inner drive to accomplish a goal that’s far beyond any expectation mankind ever intended, will continuously strum a “yes” chord. They simply yearn to become “one of the ones.”

For the competitors in the 2017 Ironman World Championship, their backgrounds are vast and furious, ranging from world champion professionals, to those who are fighting Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and just looking for the race “to help close the door gracefully, with passion, having lived a wonderful life,” such as Carlsbad, Calif., native Mike Levine.

The race’s 2.4-mile swim through the ever-changing currents of Kailua Bay, 112-mile bike while being surrounded by heat-soaking lava rock and 45 mph head- and cross-winds, and 26.2-mile marathon in shirt-soaking humidity, makes the world championship arguably the planet’s most difficult single-day sporting event.

“Last year was my toughest race here on the island,” says Germany’s Jan Frodeno, who is looking for his third consecutive victory on the Big Island. “It was a constant fight—with me and the elements. At the finish line, I was so happy that it was over. It took a long while [before] I was able to enjoy it.”

Interestingly, in 2015, Frodeno also captured a piece of triathlon history, becoming the first Ironman competitor to capture the sport’s triple crown—he previously won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was victorious at the 2015 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

“My goal is always to win,” Frodeno says. “As a two-time champion, the people are also expecting it. But winning is never easy—the pressure is on me. I am fighting not to lose, and perform at my very best.”

But looking to grab the tails of Frodeno will be countryman and 2014 champion Sebastian Kienle. The duo was arm-to-arm for the first 5 miles of last year’s marathon, before Frodeno broke away and led Kienle by one minute, 30 seconds midway through the run.

Look no further than last year’s women’s world champion, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf, who is aiming for a three-peat. In 2016, the Swiss sensation set a new Ironman World Championship women’s course record—a stat set in 2013 by second place finisher and three-time world champion, Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae.

“I [would] like to go out there and show the best performance my body can offer this year,” Ryf says. “There are many young women racing in Kona for the first time, as well as some fast swimmers, so I don’t expect to be up front from the start—but certainly will push to catch [them] on the bike.”

?

Ryf has been struggling with a back injury since the spring, but appears confident that her mind and body are heading on the right pavement.

“My year has been a bit of a challenge, [but] I am happy with how I achieved to overcome with the help of my coach,” she says. “I spent the last three weeks training in Maui and am happy with my progress—I put all I had in these last months.”

But for Ryf, the threat of Carfrae and her explosive marathon skills are eliminated—for this year, at least. Carfrae gave birth to a baby girl, Isabelle, during the offseason and will focus on raising her daughter for the near future. But she’ll still be strutting around Kona—this time as a spectator, in support of her husband, Timothy O’Donnell, who was the top U.S. world championship finisher in 2013 and ‘15.

“It’s been a surreal year having a baby, without the pressure of racing,” Carfrae says. “I’ve raced full time since my early 20s, and when [I] first fell pregnant I was a little lost, without having the day-to-day structure and laser focus toward a specific goal. But it didn’t take long for me to let go as a professional athlete and enjoy the amazing process of a growing baby. I look forward to being back next year, but will enjoy Kona [this year] as a spectator and new mom.”

And now enter Heather Jackson. In 2015, the American made her world championship pro debut was the first stateswoman to cross the finish. But wait, there’s more. Last year, she encored by finishing third and became the first U.S. woman to podium in a decade.

“Last year I was absolutely ecstatic to earn myself a podium position behind two of the most dominant Ironman distance female triathletes of the past four to five years,” Jackson says. “You dream of days coming together like that, and it didn’t sink in for a few months that I earned third in the world.”

So how does Jackson plan on molding her own, unique triathlon hat trick? Simple. Preparation.

“I’m pretty excited right now,” she says. “I’ve had another whole year of practicing the longer Ironman distance—I feel like I know it better. I’m more comfortable with the distances and times the disciplines take, and my prep couldn’t have gone much better. I’m excited to see where that training can take me on race day.”

The Ironman World Championship was inaugurated Feb. 18, 1978, after combining Hawaii’s three toughest endurance races—the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112-mile Around-O’ahu Bike Race and 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon—and has grown from a competitor field of 15.

This year, approximately 260,000 professional and age group athletes attempted to qualify for the Ironman World Championship either through worldwide Ironman (full-distance) or Ironman 70.3 (half-distance) races, or by legacy or lottery. This year’s world championship field represents 66 countries, regions and territories on six continents—the largest international athlete field in Ironman World Championship history. Geographically, it’s most represented by 741 U.S. athletes, from 48 states, with the largest number coming from California, 113; Texas, 58; Colorado, 53; Hawaii, 50; and New York, 49. Internationally, Australia boasts 234 athletes, followed by Germany, 217; and Great Britain, 150.

“The motivation is to be the first running down Ali’i Drive toward the finish line,” Frodeno says. “I am striving for the perfect race, which I’ve never had here in Kona. But maybe this is the challenge—that you will never have a perfect race, and the guy with the strongest head will win.”

2017 IWC facts and figures, provided by Ironman

• 72% of participants (1,762 athletes) are male.

• 28% of participants (698 athletes) are female.

• 43 is the average age of registrants this year.

• Hiromu Inada (Japan) is the oldest participant at 84, while Paul Lennart (Denmark) is the youngest at 18.

• 11 athletes will be celebrating their birthday on race day.

• Five countries are sending athletes to the Ironman World Championship for the first time: Kazakhstan, Paraguay, Serbia, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.

• 1,001 competitors representing 390 different TriClubs from around the world are racing at this year’s Ironman World Championship and total 40.7 percent of the field.

• 1,530 athletes racing in this year’s Ironman World Championship are Ironman All World Athletes. Roughly 85 percent of the athletes racing represent the top 10 percent of age group athletes in the world.

• 20 new Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races were established in 2017

• More than 5,000 volunteers will help make the Ironman World Championship a success.

Everything You Need to Know About the 2017 Ironman World Championships in Kona

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII — As over 2,400 of the world’s most elite athletes enter the waters of Kailua Bay on Oct. 14, they’ll have their hearts set on a prize that goes far beyond stepping—or crawling—over a finish line. When their bodies tell them “no,” their inner drive to accomplish a goal that’s far beyond any expectation mankind ever intended, will continuously strum a “yes” chord. They simply yearn to become “one of the ones.”

For the competitors in the 2017 Ironman World Championship, their backgrounds are vast and furious, ranging from world champion professionals, to those who are fighting Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and just looking for the race “to help close the door gracefully, with passion, having lived a wonderful life,” such as Carlsbad, Calif., native Mike Levine.

The race’s 2.4-mile swim through the ever-changing currents of Kailua Bay, 112-mile bike while being surrounded by heat-soaking lava rock and 45 mph head- and cross-winds, and 26.2-mile marathon in shirt-soaking humidity, makes the world championship arguably the planet’s most difficult single-day sporting event.

“Last year was my toughest race here on the island,” says Germany’s Jan Frodeno, who is looking for his third consecutive victory on the Big Island. “It was a constant fight—with me and the elements. At the finish line, I was so happy that it was over. It took a long while [before] I was able to enjoy it.”

Interestingly, in 2015, Frodeno also captured a piece of triathlon history, becoming the first Ironman competitor to capture the sport’s triple crown—he previously won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was victorious at the 2015 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

“My goal is always to win,” Frodeno says. “As a two-time champion, the people are also expecting it. But winning is never easy—the pressure is on me. I am fighting not to lose, and perform at my very best.”

But looking to grab the tails of Frodeno will be countryman and 2014 champion Sebastian Kienle. The duo was arm-to-arm for the first 5 miles of last year’s marathon, before Frodeno broke away and led Kienle by one minute, 30 seconds midway through the run.

Look no further than last year’s women’s world champion, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf, who is aiming for a three-peat. In 2016, the Swiss sensation set a new Ironman World Championship women’s course record—a stat set in 2013 by second place finisher and three-time world champion, Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae.

“I [would] like to go out there and show the best performance my body can offer this year,” Ryf says. “There are many young women racing in Kona for the first time, as well as some fast swimmers, so I don’t expect to be up front from the start—but certainly will push to catch [them] on the bike.”

?

Ryf has been struggling with a back injury since the spring, but appears confident that her mind and body are heading on the right pavement.

“My year has been a bit of a challenge, [but] I am happy with how I achieved to overcome with the help of my coach,” she says. “I spent the last three weeks training in Maui and am happy with my progress—I put all I had in these last months.”

But for Ryf, the threat of Carfrae and her explosive marathon skills are eliminated—for this year, at least. Carfrae gave birth to a baby girl, Isabelle, during the offseason and will focus on raising her daughter for the near future. But she’ll still be strutting around Kona—this time as a spectator, in support of her husband, Timothy O’Donnell, who was the top U.S. world championship finisher in 2013 and ‘15.

“It’s been a surreal year having a baby, without the pressure of racing,” Carfrae says. “I’ve raced full time since my early 20s, and when [I] first fell pregnant I was a little lost, without having the day-to-day structure and laser focus toward a specific goal. But it didn’t take long for me to let go as a professional athlete and enjoy the amazing process of a growing baby. I look forward to being back next year, but will enjoy Kona [this year] as a spectator and new mom.”

And now enter Heather Jackson. In 2015, the American made her world championship pro debut was the first stateswoman to cross the finish. But wait, there’s more. Last year, she encored by finishing third and became the first U.S. woman to podium in a decade.

“Last year I was absolutely ecstatic to earn myself a podium position behind two of the most dominant Ironman distance female triathletes of the past four to five years,” Jackson says. “You dream of days coming together like that, and it didn’t sink in for a few months that I earned third in the world.”

So how does Jackson plan on molding her own, unique triathlon hat trick? Simple. Preparation.

“I’m pretty excited right now,” she says. “I’ve had another whole year of practicing the longer Ironman distance—I feel like I know it better. I’m more comfortable with the distances and times the disciplines take, and my prep couldn’t have gone much better. I’m excited to see where that training can take me on race day.”

The Ironman World Championship was inaugurated Feb. 18, 1978, after combining Hawaii’s three toughest endurance races—the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112-mile Around-O’ahu Bike Race and 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon—and has grown from a competitor field of 15.

This year, approximately 260,000 professional and age group athletes attempted to qualify for the Ironman World Championship either through worldwide Ironman (full-distance) or Ironman 70.3 (half-distance) races, or by legacy or lottery. This year’s world championship field represents 66 countries, regions and territories on six continents—the largest international athlete field in Ironman World Championship history. Geographically, it’s most represented by 741 U.S. athletes, from 48 states, with the largest number coming from California, 113; Texas, 58; Colorado, 53; Hawaii, 50; and New York, 49. Internationally, Australia boasts 234 athletes, followed by Germany, 217; and Great Britain, 150.

“The motivation is to be the first running down Ali’i Drive toward the finish line,” Frodeno says. “I am striving for the perfect race, which I’ve never had here in Kona. But maybe this is the challenge—that you will never have a perfect race, and the guy with the strongest head will win.”

2017 IWC facts and figures, provided by Ironman

• 72% of participants (1,762 athletes) are male.

• 28% of participants (698 athletes) are female.

• 43 is the average age of registrants this year.

• Hiromu Inada (Japan) is the oldest participant at 84, while Paul Lennart (Denmark) is the youngest at 18.

• 11 athletes will be celebrating their birthday on race day.

• Five countries are sending athletes to the Ironman World Championship for the first time: Kazakhstan, Paraguay, Serbia, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.

• 1,001 competitors representing 390 different TriClubs from around the world are racing at this year’s Ironman World Championship and total 40.7 percent of the field.

• 1,530 athletes racing in this year’s Ironman World Championship are Ironman All World Athletes. Roughly 85 percent of the athletes racing represent the top 10 percent of age group athletes in the world.

• 20 new Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races were established in 2017

• More than 5,000 volunteers will help make the Ironman World Championship a success.

Everything You Need to Know About the 2017 Ironman World Championships in Kona

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII — As over 2,400 of the world’s most elite athletes enter the waters of Kailua Bay on Oct. 14, they’ll have their hearts set on a prize that goes far beyond stepping—or crawling—over a finish line. When their bodies tell them “no,” their inner drive to accomplish a goal that’s far beyond any expectation mankind ever intended, will continuously strum a “yes” chord. They simply yearn to become “one of the ones.”

For the competitors in the 2017 Ironman World Championship, their backgrounds are vast and furious, ranging from world champion professionals, to those who are fighting Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and just looking for the race “to help close the door gracefully, with passion, having lived a wonderful life,” such as Carlsbad, Calif., native Mike Levine.

The race’s 2.4-mile swim through the ever-changing currents of Kailua Bay, 112-mile bike while being surrounded by heat-soaking lava rock and 45 mph head- and cross-winds, and 26.2-mile marathon in shirt-soaking humidity, makes the world championship arguably the planet’s most difficult single-day sporting event.

“Last year was my toughest race here on the island,” says Germany’s Jan Frodeno, who is looking for his third consecutive victory on the Big Island. “It was a constant fight—with me and the elements. At the finish line, I was so happy that it was over. It took a long while [before] I was able to enjoy it.”

Interestingly, in 2015, Frodeno also captured a piece of triathlon history, becoming the first Ironman competitor to capture the sport’s triple crown—he previously won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was victorious at the 2015 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

“My goal is always to win,” Frodeno says. “As a two-time champion, the people are also expecting it. But winning is never easy—the pressure is on me. I am fighting not to lose, and perform at my very best.”

But looking to grab the tails of Frodeno will be countryman and 2014 champion Sebastian Kienle. The duo was arm-to-arm for the first 5 miles of last year’s marathon, before Frodeno broke away and led Kienle by one minute, 30 seconds midway through the run.

Look no further than last year’s women’s world champion, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf, who is aiming for a three-peat. In 2016, the Swiss sensation set a new Ironman World Championship women’s course record—a stat set in 2013 by second place finisher and three-time world champion, Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae.

“I [would] like to go out there and show the best performance my body can offer this year,” Ryf says. “There are many young women racing in Kona for the first time, as well as some fast swimmers, so I don’t expect to be up front from the start—but certainly will push to catch [them] on the bike.”

?

Ryf has been struggling with a back injury since the spring, but appears confident that her mind and body are heading on the right pavement.

“My year has been a bit of a challenge, [but] I am happy with how I achieved to overcome with the help of my coach,” she says. “I spent the last three weeks training in Maui and am happy with my progress—I put all I had in these last months.”

But for Ryf, the threat of Carfrae and her explosive marathon skills are eliminated—for this year, at least. Carfrae gave birth to a baby girl, Isabelle, during the offseason and will focus on raising her daughter for the near future. But she’ll still be strutting around Kona—this time as a spectator, in support of her husband, Timothy O’Donnell, who was the top U.S. world championship finisher in 2013 and ‘15.

“It’s been a surreal year having a baby, without the pressure of racing,” Carfrae says. “I’ve raced full time since my early 20s, and when [I] first fell pregnant I was a little lost, without having the day-to-day structure and laser focus toward a specific goal. But it didn’t take long for me to let go as a professional athlete and enjoy the amazing process of a growing baby. I look forward to being back next year, but will enjoy Kona [this year] as a spectator and new mom.”

And now enter Heather Jackson. In 2015, the American made her world championship pro debut was the first stateswoman to cross the finish. But wait, there’s more. Last year, she encored by finishing third and became the first U.S. woman to podium in a decade.

“Last year I was absolutely ecstatic to earn myself a podium position behind two of the most dominant Ironman distance female triathletes of the past four to five years,” Jackson says. “You dream of days coming together like that, and it didn’t sink in for a few months that I earned third in the world.”

So how does Jackson plan on molding her own, unique triathlon hat trick? Simple. Preparation.

“I’m pretty excited right now,” she says. “I’ve had another whole year of practicing the longer Ironman distance—I feel like I know it better. I’m more comfortable with the distances and times the disciplines take, and my prep couldn’t have gone much better. I’m excited to see where that training can take me on race day.”

The Ironman World Championship was inaugurated Feb. 18, 1978, after combining Hawaii’s three toughest endurance races—the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112-mile Around-O’ahu Bike Race and 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon—and has grown from a competitor field of 15.

This year, approximately 260,000 professional and age group athletes attempted to qualify for the Ironman World Championship either through worldwide Ironman (full-distance) or Ironman 70.3 (half-distance) races, or by legacy or lottery. This year’s world championship field represents 66 countries, regions and territories on six continents—the largest international athlete field in Ironman World Championship history. Geographically, it’s most represented by 741 U.S. athletes, from 48 states, with the largest number coming from California, 113; Texas, 58; Colorado, 53; Hawaii, 50; and New York, 49. Internationally, Australia boasts 234 athletes, followed by Germany, 217; and Great Britain, 150.

“The motivation is to be the first running down Ali’i Drive toward the finish line,” Frodeno says. “I am striving for the perfect race, which I’ve never had here in Kona. But maybe this is the challenge—that you will never have a perfect race, and the guy with the strongest head will win.”

2017 IWC facts and figures, provided by Ironman

• 72% of participants (1,762 athletes) are male.

• 28% of participants (698 athletes) are female.

• 43 is the average age of registrants this year.

• Hiromu Inada (Japan) is the oldest participant at 84, while Paul Lennart (Denmark) is the youngest at 18.

• 11 athletes will be celebrating their birthday on race day.

• Five countries are sending athletes to the Ironman World Championship for the first time: Kazakhstan, Paraguay, Serbia, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.

• 1,001 competitors representing 390 different TriClubs from around the world are racing at this year’s Ironman World Championship and total 40.7 percent of the field.

• 1,530 athletes racing in this year’s Ironman World Championship are Ironman All World Athletes. Roughly 85 percent of the athletes racing represent the top 10 percent of age group athletes in the world.

• 20 new Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races were established in 2017

• More than 5,000 volunteers will help make the Ironman World Championship a success.

68-Year-Old Man with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Trains for Ironman Triathlon

It has been 35 years since Mike Levine, 68, competed in the Ironman, but he is about to do it all over again. He is slated to race against 2,000 of the best athletes in the world on October 14, despite his diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. InsideEdition.com's Keleigh Nealon (https://twitter.com/KeleighNealon) has more.

68-Year-Old Man with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Trains for Ironman Triathlon

It has been 35 years since Mike Levine, 68, competed in the Ironman, but he is about to do it all over again. He is slated to race against 2,000 of the best athletes in the world on October 14, despite his diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. InsideEdition.com's Keleigh Nealon (https://twitter.com/KeleighNealon) has more.

68-Year-Old Man with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Trains for Ironman Triathlon

It has been 35 years since Mike Levine, 68, competed in the Ironman, but he is about to do it all over again. He is slated to race against 2,000 of the best athletes in the world on October 14, despite his diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. InsideEdition.com's Keleigh Nealon (https://twitter.com/KeleighNealon) has more.

68-Year-Old Man with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Trains for Ironman Triathlon

It has been 35 years since Mike Levine, 68, competed in the Ironman, but he is about to do it all over again. He is slated to race against 2,000 of the best athletes in the world on October 14, despite his diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. InsideEdition.com's Keleigh Nealon (https://twitter.com/KeleighNealon) has more.

What Two Aspiring Amateurs Learned From Training With Pro Triathlete Jesse Thomas

Jesse Thomas just wants to be happy. He thinks you should be happy, too.

He’ll be lining up in Kona, Hawaii, to race in his second Ironman World Championship on Oct. 14. Last year he showed up at the start line burned out, with a fatigue that had crept up on him in the last few weeks of training. He finished No. 16, 23 minutes behind winner Jan Frodeno. This year, he took almost two weeks off training in June. He kicked back a little, drank the occasional beer. A foot injury even helped by slowing down his ramp back up to full workouts.

Thomas juggles being a pro athlete with running the energy bar company he co-founded called Picky Bars, and raising his family—he and his wife, Lauren Fleshman, have a four-year-old son, Jude, and Fleshman gave birth to their daughter, Zadie, on Monday. In August, he hosted two aspiring amateur triathletes over separate weekends in his hometown of Bend, Ore., giving them a window into both his workouts and his life. Luis Iturralde, 32, a structural engineer from New Orleans, and Kyle Klinger, 36, a sales and marketing executive from Austin got to train with Thomas as their prize for winning competitions run by Red Bull and Strava. Listen to yourself, he told them.

In triathlon, Thomas says, “The line is so much more blurred than it is in conventional sports.” When he tells people he’s a pro triathlete, their response is usually OK, yeah, cool. So what do you do for your job?

Almost everyone starts out swimming, biking, and running with the goal of getting in shape, although Thomas, who raced the 3,000-meter steeplechase as a student at Stanford, had always dreamed of going pro in something. The biggest step up towards pro status, he says, came when he hired his coach, Matt Dixon, in 2010.

“If you want to be a better triathlete, hire a good coach and don’t be doing it on your own," Thomas says. "I think it’s really hard to separate ego from smart decision making in the training environment.” (Fleshman is also a two-time national champion 5,000-meter runner, so Thomas can lean on her athletic experience, too.)

According to Thomas, triathletes also often lose sight of what really matters, chasing numbers collected by all sorts of wearable devices—heart rate, power, speed, etc.—instead. “[Data] matters to me,” he says, “but it’s not the be all end all.” Thomas pays attention to his mind and body to inform how he needs to moderate his training or nutrition. “The more sophisticated an athlete you become,” he says, “the better you are at understanding what those feelings mean and placing value on them.”

“When I start to get over trained, I get angry,” he says. “If I’m heading out for a ride and I can’t find my shoes or something, I’ll throw a temper tantrum like I’m a three year old.”

The solution is always to back off. Maybe he needs to ride shorter or easier, doesn’t need to set a new fastest time. Maybe he needs to skip that training session entirely. Perhaps he should find a quiet space and meditate instead. In contrast, amateurs often don’t feel they have the luxury to do that. There already don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to catch up with all of the demands of life. “When I’m not working I’m training,” Klinger says, “and when I’m not training I’m working.”

In six years as a pro, Thomas has learned to take his easy days easier and that rest means rest. The second morning Iturralde was in Bend, he woke up early to go running with Thomas. As he sipped his second cup of coffee, Iturralde wondered where his host was. Thomas was still fast asleep. He often doesn’t set an alarm. Instead he wakes up when his body is ready. “Sleeping and eating well, those are just as important as putting the work in,” Iturralde says he realized in Bend.

Thomas won his final warm-up race ahead of Kona, Ironman 70.3 Augusta on Sep. 24. Three weeks of rest and recovery later he’ll be aiming for a top 10 finish in Hawaii. Maybe more than any numbers, the difference that elevates the six-time Wildflower Triathlon champion and two-time father to his goal will be happiness.

What Two Aspiring Amateurs Learned From Training With Pro Triathlete Jesse Thomas

Jesse Thomas just wants to be happy. He thinks you should be happy, too.

He’ll be lining up in Kona, Hawaii, to race in his second Ironman World Championship on Oct. 14. Last year he showed up at the start line burned out, with a fatigue that had crept up on him in the last few weeks of training. He finished No. 16, 23 minutes behind winner Jan Frodeno. This year, he took almost two weeks off training in June. He kicked back a little, drank the occasional beer. A foot injury even helped by slowing down his ramp back up to full workouts.

Thomas juggles being a pro athlete with running the energy bar company he co-founded called Picky Bars, and raising his family—he and his wife, Lauren Fleshman, have a four-year-old son, Jude, and Fleshman gave birth to their daughter, Zadie, on Monday. In August, he hosted two aspiring amateur triathletes over separate weekends in his hometown of Bend, Ore., giving them a window into both his workouts and his life. Luis Iturralde, 32, a structural engineer from New Orleans, and Kyle Klinger, 36, a sales and marketing executive from Austin got to train with Thomas as their prize for winning competitions run by Red Bull and Strava. Listen to yourself, he told them.

In triathlon, Thomas says, “The line is so much more blurred than it is in conventional sports.” When he tells people he’s a pro triathlete, their response is usually OK, yeah, cool. So what do you do for your job?

Almost everyone starts out swimming, biking, and running with the goal of getting in shape, although Thomas, who raced the 3,000-meter steeplechase as a student at Stanford, had always dreamed of going pro in something. The biggest step up towards pro status, he says, came when he hired his coach, Matt Dixon, in 2010.

“If you want to be a better triathlete, hire a good coach and don’t be doing it on your own," Thomas says. "I think it’s really hard to separate ego from smart decision making in the training environment.” (Fleshman is also a two-time national champion 5,000-meter runner, so Thomas can lean on her athletic experience, too.)

According to Thomas, triathletes also often lose sight of what really matters, chasing numbers collected by all sorts of wearable devices—heart rate, power, speed, etc.—instead. “[Data] matters to me,” he says, “but it’s not the be all end all.” Thomas pays attention to his mind and body to inform how he needs to moderate his training or nutrition. “The more sophisticated an athlete you become,” he says, “the better you are at understanding what those feelings mean and placing value on them.”

“When I start to get over trained, I get angry,” he says. “If I’m heading out for a ride and I can’t find my shoes or something, I’ll throw a temper tantrum like I’m a three year old.”

The solution is always to back off. Maybe he needs to ride shorter or easier, doesn’t need to set a new fastest time. Maybe he needs to skip that training session entirely. Perhaps he should find a quiet space and meditate instead. In contrast, amateurs often don’t feel they have the luxury to do that. There already don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to catch up with all of the demands of life. “When I’m not working I’m training,” Klinger says, “and when I’m not training I’m working.”

In six years as a pro, Thomas has learned to take his easy days easier and that rest means rest. The second morning Iturralde was in Bend, he woke up early to go running with Thomas. As he sipped his second cup of coffee, Iturralde wondered where his host was. Thomas was still fast asleep. He often doesn’t set an alarm. Instead he wakes up when his body is ready. “Sleeping and eating well, those are just as important as putting the work in,” Iturralde says he realized in Bend.

Thomas won his final warm-up race ahead of Kona, Ironman 70.3 Augusta on Sep. 24. Three weeks of rest and recovery later he’ll be aiming for a top 10 finish in Hawaii. Maybe more than any numbers, the difference that elevates the six-time Wildflower Triathlon champion and two-time father to his goal will be happiness.

What Two Aspiring Amateurs Learned From Training With Pro Triathlete Jesse Thomas

Jesse Thomas just wants to be happy. He thinks you should be happy, too.

He’ll be lining up in Kona, Hawaii, to race in his second Ironman World Championship on Oct. 14. Last year he showed up at the start line burned out, with a fatigue that had crept up on him in the last few weeks of training. He finished No. 16, 23 minutes behind winner Jan Frodeno. This year, he took almost two weeks off training in June. He kicked back a little, drank the occasional beer. A foot injury even helped by slowing down his ramp back up to full workouts.

Thomas juggles being a pro athlete with running the energy bar company he co-founded called Picky Bars, and raising his family—he and his wife, Lauren Fleshman, have a four-year-old son, Jude, and Fleshman gave birth to their daughter, Zadie, on Monday. In August, he hosted two aspiring amateur triathletes over separate weekends in his hometown of Bend, Ore., giving them a window into both his workouts and his life. Luis Iturralde, 32, a structural engineer from New Orleans, and Kyle Klinger, 36, a sales and marketing executive from Austin got to train with Thomas as their prize for winning competitions run by Red Bull and Strava. Listen to yourself, he told them.

In triathlon, Thomas says, “The line is so much more blurred than it is in conventional sports.” When he tells people he’s a pro triathlete, their response is usually OK, yeah, cool. So what do you do for your job?

Almost everyone starts out swimming, biking, and running with the goal of getting in shape, although Thomas, who raced the 3,000-meter steeplechase as a student at Stanford, had always dreamed of going pro in something. The biggest step up towards pro status, he says, came when he hired his coach, Matt Dixon, in 2010.

“If you want to be a better triathlete, hire a good coach and don’t be doing it on your own," Thomas says. "I think it’s really hard to separate ego from smart decision making in the training environment.” (Fleshman is also a two-time national champion 5,000-meter runner, so Thomas can lean on her athletic experience, too.)

According to Thomas, triathletes also often lose sight of what really matters, chasing numbers collected by all sorts of wearable devices—heart rate, power, speed, etc.—instead. “[Data] matters to me,” he says, “but it’s not the be all end all.” Thomas pays attention to his mind and body to inform how he needs to moderate his training or nutrition. “The more sophisticated an athlete you become,” he says, “the better you are at understanding what those feelings mean and placing value on them.”

“When I start to get over trained, I get angry,” he says. “If I’m heading out for a ride and I can’t find my shoes or something, I’ll throw a temper tantrum like I’m a three year old.”

The solution is always to back off. Maybe he needs to ride shorter or easier, doesn’t need to set a new fastest time. Maybe he needs to skip that training session entirely. Perhaps he should find a quiet space and meditate instead. In contrast, amateurs often don’t feel they have the luxury to do that. There already don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to catch up with all of the demands of life. “When I’m not working I’m training,” Klinger says, “and when I’m not training I’m working.”

In six years as a pro, Thomas has learned to take his easy days easier and that rest means rest. The second morning Iturralde was in Bend, he woke up early to go running with Thomas. As he sipped his second cup of coffee, Iturralde wondered where his host was. Thomas was still fast asleep. He often doesn’t set an alarm. Instead he wakes up when his body is ready. “Sleeping and eating well, those are just as important as putting the work in,” Iturralde says he realized in Bend.

Thomas won his final warm-up race ahead of Kona, Ironman 70.3 Augusta on Sep. 24. Three weeks of rest and recovery later he’ll be aiming for a top 10 finish in Hawaii. Maybe more than any numbers, the difference that elevates the six-time Wildflower Triathlon champion and two-time father to his goal will be happiness.

Visitors stroll at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo

Visitors stroll at Odaiba Marine Park, the venue for Marathon Swimming and Triathlon events during the Tokyo 2020 Games, in Tokyo, Japan October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

James Marsden

The Westworld star worked hard competing at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon presented by Equinox. Marsden had to swim a half mile, bike 17 miles, then run 4 miles as a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. But Sunday night, he got to party just as hard — with any energy he had left — at HBO’s Emmys after-party. (Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images and Cruse Photo)

James Marsden

The Westworld star worked hard competing at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon presented by Equinox. Marsden had to swim a half mile, bike 17 miles, then run 4 miles as a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. But Sunday night, he got to party just as hard — with any energy he still had left — at HBO’s Emmys after-party. (Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images and Cruse Photo)

Man who died during Singapore International Triathlon suffered cardiorespiratory failure