Big Island triathlon essentially revolves around Kona, the sport’s undeniable golden-child and home to the IRONMAN™ World Championships since 1981.
Compared to other areas with larger populations, however, the Kona triathlon scene is relatively small. However, you will find per capita triathlon involvement in Kona to be quite impressive. Just cruise along Alii Drive or the Queen Kaahumanu Highway anytime during the day and you will undoubtedly come across scores of triathletes in training.
And when it comes to races, the Kona-Kohala Coast is renowned globally for hosting high-quality events with devout support from the community. Listed below are most of the Big Island triathlon and multi-sport event opportunities available for you to get involved with as either a competitor, volunteer, or spectator.
By qualification or “lottery” only. Athletes begin this iconic Big Island triathlon with a 2.4-mile swim in Kailua Bay, followed by a grueling 112-mile out & back bike ride to the northern tip of the Big Island (Hawi), and finishes with a brutally hot marathon (26.2-miles) that culminates in front of thousands of cheering spectators along Kailua-Kona’s Alii Drive. One of the best parts of the event is being able to cheer on many of your fellow neighbors who might be competing. There are also many volunteer opportunities providing behind-the-scenes insights and front-row seats to the action.
An incredible Big Island triathlon held along the sunny Kohala Coast, hosted by the Fairmont Orchid at Mauna Lani Resort. The swim takes place at beautiful Hapuna Beach, followed by a bike to Hawi and back (the hard part of the World Championship segment), finishing with a brutally hot and challenging run – part of which is on the golf course. This event attracts some of the best elite amateurs in the world as it is one of the only half distances offering qualifying slots for the full IRONMAN World Championship in Kona. Check the event website for details as slot allotments fluctuate year to year.
Hawaii’s premier Olympic distance triathlon is none other than Lavaman Waikoloa. This popular Big Island triathlon features a 1.5K Swim, 40K Bike, and 10K Run. The swim starts off at Anaeho’omalu Bay at the Waikoloa Beach Resort, followed by an out & back bike on the Queen Kaahumanu Highway, and finishes with a toasty run on varied terrain – including lava fields and sand.
XTERRA Hawaii Island is a newer Big Island triathlon serving as a qualifying race for the XTERRA World Championship on Maui. The event features a half-mile rough water ocean swim at Hapuna Beach, followed by a grueling two-loop, 10-mile bike course traversing over Hapuna Beach Park State land, and then finishing off with a pulverizing 3.1-mile run at Hapuna Beach Resort.
Peaman Biathlon events have been a Kailua-Kona fixture for over three decades. Events feature free, fun, family-oriented swims in Kailua Bay followed up with a short run on Alii Drive. Geared for all ages and fitness levels, participants range from beginners to professional athletes and include various divisions to choose from. Relays and kid-specific “Pea-Wea” options are available too.
Started in 1992, Team Mango Provides a safe, healthy, affordable, community workout club for all ages and athletic abilities. Featured events include everything from Big Island triathlons, cycling races, trail runs, and more. This is a great opportunity to get involved with local grass-roots triathlons, meet new people, and discover different parts of the Kona Coast through the various event locations.