Getting to Kona
The IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, HI crowns the best triathletes in the world. The athletes' journey to Kona for the World Championship begins months or years before the blast of the cannon signals the start of the race in Kailua Bay. For age-group athletes, just getting to the starting line is an incredible accomplishment that requires a top finish at another IRONMAN event.
The Everyman Triathlete
Darren Mounts is a father, husband, media executive, and happens to be a top-age group triathlete. His story began 29 years ago when his father introduced him to the sport as a kid. But it wasn’t until joining Team Every Man Jack that Darren realized he might have what it took to make it to the “super bowl” of triathlon.
Right before the starting cannon goes off, the athletes treading water in Kailua Bay have never felt more alive. It's a little bit like a boxing match... kicking, yelling, thousands of people jockeying for position.
Streets packed with yelling crowds eventually lead to desolate lava fields. On the road back from Hawi is when the elements - the winds, the heat, the humidity - really start to become a factor.
No shade, no breeze, it's like a cauldron. But then you get back to town, greeted by thousands of cheering fans and Mike Reilly on the loudspeaker calling your name... it's the epitome of reaching the top.
The Road to Kona
Team Every Man Jack Training Camp
Las Vegas, NV | February 2017
Connection and culture – that’s what the Team Every Man Jack training camp is all about. When Ritch Viola set out to create a team of triathletes from across the country, he wanted to make sure it was more than just an affiliation. That’s why a weekend of team building and training has become a cornerstone of the Team Every Man Jack’s annual calendar. “After our first camp, and it became very clear how important the camp and weekend was for our team,” said Viola, who founded Team EMJ in 2012.
It’s an epic experience, according the athletes. For the last two years, Las Vegas has been the venue. Good weather and easy flights makes it a perfect location for the February camp. Rides through the deserts, swim-training, and trail runs fill the days along with yoga, strengthening, and plenty of eating.
With 65 athletes, team dinners prove to be one of the biggest logistical challenges. But Donna Trauger, the wife of one of the original members of the team, makes it look easy. The team dinners are a time for the athletes to learn about each other’s’ diverse careers and lives outside of sport. After all, despite frequent podium performances, the athletes on Team EMJ are not professional triathletes and all have “day jobs.”
And of course, a trip to Vegas wouldn’t be complete without a night out on the town, as the Team Every Man Jack motto is #CleanUpNice!