6.2 mile Swim

The 6.2-mile (10-kilometer) open ocean course begins at the water’s edge on the southeast side of the Kailua Pier, and ends on the beach at the north side of Keauhou Bay. Start time is a few minutes before sunrise, scheduled promptly for 6:30 a.m. With the water temperature in the mid to high 70s, hypothermia should not become a problem; nevertheless, most participants will wear wetsuits to protect against that possibility, as well as the hazards of jellyfish or man o’ war, whose stings may cause severe discomfort. At the starting signal, swimmers will start together (self-seeding is recommended), rendezvous with their waiting swim escorts (who are allowed to provide the swimmer with food and water), and head south along the lava shoreline of the historic Kona Coast. Swimmers not reaching the swim finish in five and 1/2 hours may be permitted to continue, but must realize that, in order to reach the finish line by the 12 hour cutoff time, it will be very difficult. Just over a mile after the start, swimmers will pass Puapua’a Point, leaving the relative shelter of the Kailua Bay. Here the unpredictable elements of the open ocean-swells, currents, perhaps some light wind and surface chop-may become more noticeable. Kamoa Point, a favorite surfing spot, is located near the halfway point, and at mile 4, White Sands Beach may (or may not) appear on the shore (it is sometimes known as Magic Sands or Disappearing Sands because, during high surf, the entire beach can be moved offshore in just a few hours). Well into Mile 5, swimmers will pass Kahalu’u Bay with its blue-roofed church and unique lava-rock breakwater. If the past is any indication, strong northerly currents are likely in this area and will probably remain strong until the entrance to Keauhou Bay. The final mile, paralleling black lava cliffs, will probably be the toughest: currents and surf in the area are unpredictable, and the approach to the bay itself is ringed with large lava outcroppings and coral heads. However, the straight-line course and buoys will keep swimmers far enough offshore so that avoiding these obstacles should not be difficult. After a left turn around the orange buoy at the entrance to the bay, it should be a relatively calm quarter mile to the final buoy and the finish line. Since the exit is on a rocky beach, teams should be prepared to have footwear available for their participants to walk in comfortably to the transition.

CAUTION: The bottom and shoreline areas along the coast often have spiny black sea urchins (wana) clinging to them. Since stepping on one of these may cause painful and bothersome injury that may even prevent further participation, caution should be exercised when in shallow water.

SUGGESTION: In previous years, a straight-line course from Kailua Bay to the first turn buoy at the entrance to Keauhou Bay has proven to be not only the shortest course, but often a faster one as well. Once that turn buoy is reached, set a diagonal course to the final buoy and keep to the right of all buoys and away from the rocky shoreline. However, since conditions are unpredictable, following the direction of the swim escort may be more advisable.

90 mile bike

After exiting the water at Keauhou Bay, athletes will transition onto their bikes for the 90 mile ride around the southern point of the Big Island, ending with a 30 mile climb up to the military camp in Volcano National Park.