Kona Kings & Queens is a collaboration project with sports photographer James Mitchell to highlight some of the Pros racing in Kona. James supplies his awesome pictures (for more check his Instagram account), I add some data and commentary.
As a weaker swimmer, Sarah is forced to play catch up all day. In smaller fields she’s working hard on the bike to quickly put herself back in contention for the win, but she also knows where to put in the effort for a good result in Kona. It’s unlikely we’ll see her in the picture in the live coverage and you’ll have to watch the tracker for her progress through the field. If she’s able to unleash another super-fast run after a solid swim and bike, she’ll have the Top 10 in her sights. Maybe she can even improve on her seventh places from 2015 and ’16?
Thorsten: In almost all your races, you start “from behind” after the swim. How do you approach the Kona swim?
Sarah: To be honest, my swim is what it is. I have worked for YEARS to try to improve it and I just don’t seem to be able to get much better. I feel like I have the potential to make that sub-1 hour pack, but I won’t go into the race counting on that as I’ve learned too many times that I just can’t rely on my swim. If I happen to have a great one, it will be icing on the cake, and I know we will have a strategy for that, but I’m prepared for whatever comes my way in terms of swim performance.
T: In most races you’re usually one of the fastest bikers and can quickly erase part of your swim deficit. With the deeper field and resulting groups in Kona, do you have to be more patient?
S: I definitely think coming out of the water behind puts me at a disadvantage on the bike … but also in some ways an advantage. I think the groups ride HARD and aggressively and that is why you see so many people crumble on the run. By not being in the group, I think it makes it much harder to make up time, but I also think it allows me to follow my own race plane and sets me up well for the run. I wouldn’t say I hold back on the bike, I just think when you are riding solo vs. in a pack (even at legal distances) it is hard to bridge up in a race like Kona. I’m hoping for some wind this year though as I do think the windier it gets the more it can break up groups, which helps me.
T: You’ve been running extremely well this year with a 2:53 and a 2:56, so what do you see as possible in Kona? And what will that mean in the end?
S: “Well under 3” is definitely the plan for Kona :-). This year is really the first year where I let myself just go for it on the run and its really given me the confidence to put myself out there and take chances. This year there are SO MANY strong female runners. I think we could see as many as ten women run under 3, which is unprecedented. It’s awesome. But because of that, I think it is hard for me to predict how I will end up. I showed myself in Brazil earlier this year that if I have a cracker of a day I can be in the mix. But there are so many talented women. My goal is to run my fastest and best marathon ever. If I do that, I will definitely move up. It’s just so hard to know where that will put me. I think it could be as high as Top 3, or it could be like last year where I ran sub 3 and finished 11th. I think this year versus past years I am not going into the race with a placing in mind or as my goal. I’m going in really just wanting to have my best ever performance in Kona and potentially ever. That is my goal. And if I do that – we’ll see where it puts me 🙂
This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2019 Rating Report”. You can download your copy here.