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August « 2011 « James Cunnama’s Blog

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Archive for August, 2011

Because I’m not ready to win it… yet.

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

So, since the ‘Kona Qualifiers’ list (here) has come out I have had quite a few queries about why I passed up my invitation. And the answer is pretty simple – because I’m not ready to win it.

I went to Kona in 2009. It was a dog-show. My worst Ironman performance ever. In fact the only time I have gone slower was at my first ever Ironman in 2007. Not a good experience. And it was not a cheap experience either! But it was exactly that, and the reason I went in the first place: experience. But after that experience I promised myself I wouldn’t return to the Big Island until I was ready. The definition of ‘ready’ is debatable, but it is up to me and Brett to decide on our definition. And we’re not there yet.

The reasons for my lack of readiness this year were mostly out of my control. At the start of 2010 we predicted 2012 as the earliest possible Kona return, but then 2010 went superbly, and my form came on quicker than anticipated and we entertained the remote possibility of Kona 2011. But this year has not gone as smoothly with a minor achilles injury (which thankfully has resolved), closely followed by a knee problem, which hopefully will also be resolved soon. Either way these have made the decision for me, and Kona is out, and we go back to the original plan – 2012.

Many people can’t understand how I can pass up the Kona opportunity, especially those Pro’s (and AG’ers) who are clawing tooth and nail to get into the race. But I never actually went after Kona or KPR points this year. I just happened to come into form at the end of 2010 and got some early points, and then had decent races at my home events in South Africa. And hey presto! an ‘invitation’. But once I got the invitation, why not just go and ‘see how it goes’ and have every triathlete’s dream experience? Easy answer: it’s stupidly expensive. Kona is a long way from anywhere. And it is a VERY long way from South Africa – polar opposite to be exact, as far as you can get without leaving the planet. And it is not the cheapest place to stay. And there is no ‘financial assistance’ from WTC for Pro’s. And the prize money only goes 10-deep. To sum it up: If I were to go (being, as I am, in less than peak form) the chances of finishing in the top 10 and making some money would be slim. And the cost would be high. I am passionate about Ironman, and Kona, but at the end of the day my triathlon is a business and work on profit vs loss. Some expenses are justified, for experience, to keep sponsors happy, to promote the brand ‘James Cunnama’, etc. Some are just pissing away hard-earned dollars on an Hawaiian holiday.

If my form comes good and I am racing fit in the next few months, I will go to races where I can make some money. And when the time is right, I will go to Kona. Maybe that’ll be 2012. Maybe not. But when I do rack my bike on the Kailua Pier, and jump into the warm Hawaii waters, you can be sure of one thing – I will be ready…

Onwards and upwards…