Supporters energize Ironman athletes via signs

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KAILUA-KONA — From cunning to loving, inspiring to silly, Ironman supporters showered their athletes with creative messages of encouragement in what has become its own tradition around the annual triathlon.

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KAILUA-KONA — From cunning to loving, inspiring to silly, Ironman supporters showered their athletes with creative messages of encouragement in what has become its own tradition around the annual triathlon.

Yes, it’s a championship race, but it’s also a party, and every party needs pizzazz.

And from costumes to a chalk-covered Alii Drive, fans brought color to the course — as they do every year.

“I’ve been planning this all for months,” said Kate Turney, who was cheering on three friends — as well as every other athlete who passed her — from Kuakini Highway with a megaphone, a sparkly dress and three signs meant to get a chuckle.

“You’re almost there,” read one sign she showed runners who were miles and miles away from actually finishing. “#FakeNews.”

A triathlete herself, she said a little joke and cheer can go a long way.

“I know when you’re right in the hurt locker, when you’re really digging deep, you just want somebody there to shout your bib number and give you a cheer,” she said. “And then all of a sudden you think, ‘Well, actually, maybe I can go for another few hundred meters.’”

“Pain is just the French word for bread,” read another of her posters, the idea for which she admitted she stole from the internet.

“I love it. I think cheering is brilliant,” she said. “I just want to make people laugh, give them something else to think about.”

Jeff Sass paraded around the course dressed as Elvis, a tradition the Tennessean picked up some years ago running a race in Graceland dressed as the King. Turns out, everybody loves Elvis, and spectators and racers alike request songs, give him high-fives and “a kiss here and there.”

“They love it,” he said. “Everybody is smiling. People love Elvis.”

But not everyone is going for the joke. Plenty of meaningful messages were etched up and down Alii Drive. Every year, spectators decorate the oceanfront strip with colorful notes of support, encouragement, love and inspiration.

Ryan Duckworth colored several giant bees on the street for his brother, Rory, who qualified for the race for the first time and overcame a blood clot, as well as being hit by a car during training, to make it to the starting line.

The bees were a nod to their home, Utah, the Beehive State, and the notes of encouragement under the drawing doubled as puns — unbeelievable. They were also big and coloring them took some effort under the hot sun.

“I’m going to PR my support today,” Ryan said, sweating.

Farther along Alii Drive, south of Lunapule Road, Aneta Stenglova drew hearts under her boyfriend’s nickname, Soukey.

Petr Soukup, a Czech Republic racer, was gunning for a top finish in the 30-34 age group and the notes were meant for motivation, a surprise Stenglova wanted to leave on the roadway outside the condo in which the couple was staying.

“Because I love him,” she said. “It should help him to achieve his dream, his lifelong dream.”

She then drew a giant heart across an entire lane.

“Big love,” she said.

Kathy Saugstad, on the other hand, left a message for a stranger.

A snowbird, she’s been coming to the race the past half-dozen years. She always wanted to write on Alii Drive and this year she was determined to do it. About 10 days ago, she met an Australian racer and they conversed briefly. The man told Saugstad his name and bib number, and that was all she needed.

“Go, Dougal,” the message of support said to the racer who had no idea it was coming.

“I just picked him out,” she said. “I’ve always thought about doing the chalk thing, but I’ve never really done it. I thought this year, I’ll do it.”

“Go, go, go,” a lot of other messages read. Go Norway, go Deutschland, go my everything. “Tap, tap, tap,” read another message, which was meant as a reminder to racer Jo McLaughlin to keep her feet turning as she kept a 5-minute-kilometer running pace.

“It’s the sound of her feet,” said husband Brent Robinson, who left it. “Tap, tap, tap.”

One sign rooted for Vegan Jen, but went on to say she had crabs. Another drawing was meant as a directional sign, one arrow pointing to the finish line with the other pointing toward beer at the Coconut Grove bars. And there were plenty of flags.

None bigger, perhaps, than Gareth Edwards’ from South Africa. So big was the cloth, he tied one half to a speed limit sign pole and then stretched it out and held up the other side with his arm above his head. The black, green, gold, red, white and blue are eye-catching, and that’s exactly the point. His wife, Tracy Maikham, knows to look for it. It’s a small reminder of home but also a can’t-miss.

And sure enough, she saw it on Kuakini Highway and Edwards shouted to her in his native language, Afrikaans, which drew a smile from the racer as she passed.

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“I told her it’s only going to get worse from here,” he said, unpacking his flag, which he planned to hang again, soon. “And that I’d see her out on the run course.”

Email Tom Hasslinger at thasslinger@westhawaiitoday.com.

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Supporters energize Ironman athletes via signs

  • Michelle Alexander from Denver holds up an "IRONMEN are sexy" sign as athletes cycle by during the Ironman World Championship Saturday in Kailua-Kona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
  • Ryan Duckworth colors a message for his brother on Alii Drive Saturday. (Tom Hasslinger / West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — From cunning to loving, inspiring to silly, Ironman supporters showered their athletes with creative messages of encouragement in what has become its own tradition around the annual triathlon.

Yes, it’s a championship race, but it’s also a party, and every party needs pizzazz.

ADVERTISING


And from costumes to a chalk-covered Alii Drive, fans brought color to the course — as they do every year.

“I’ve been planning this all for months,” said Kate Turney, who was cheering on three friends — as well as every other athlete who passed her — from Kuakini Highway with a megaphone, a sparkly dress and three signs meant to get a chuckle.

“You’re almost there,” read one sign she showed runners who were miles and miles away from actually finishing. “#FakeNews.”

A triathlete herself, she said a little joke and cheer can go a long way.

“I know when you’re right in the hurt locker, when you’re really digging deep, you just want somebody there to shout your bib number and give you a cheer,” she said. “And then all of a sudden you think, ‘Well, actually, maybe I can go for another few hundred meters.’”

“Pain is just the French word for bread,” read another of her posters, the idea for which she admitted she stole from the internet.

“I love it. I think cheering is brilliant,” she said. “I just want to make people laugh, give them something else to think about.”

Jeff Sass paraded around the course dressed as Elvis, a tradition the Tennessean picked up some years ago running a race in Graceland dressed as the King. Turns out, everybody loves Elvis, and spectators and racers alike request songs, give him high-fives and “a kiss here and there.”

“They love it,” he said. “Everybody is smiling. People love Elvis.”

But not everyone is going for the joke. Plenty of meaningful messages were etched up and down Alii Drive. Every year, spectators decorate the oceanfront strip with colorful notes of support, encouragement, love and inspiration.

Ryan Duckworth colored several giant bees on the street for his brother, Rory, who qualified for the race for the first time and overcame a blood clot, as well as being hit by a car during training, to make it to the starting line.

The bees were a nod to their home, Utah, the Beehive State, and the notes of encouragement under the drawing doubled as puns — unbeelievable. They were also big and coloring them took some effort under the hot sun.

“I’m going to PR my support today,” Ryan said, sweating.

Farther along Alii Drive, south of Lunapule Road, Aneta Stenglova drew hearts under her boyfriend’s nickname, Soukey.

Petr Soukup, a Czech Republic racer, was gunning for a top finish in the 30-34 age group and the notes were meant for motivation, a surprise Stenglova wanted to leave on the roadway outside the condo in which the couple was staying.

“Because I love him,” she said. “It should help him to achieve his dream, his lifelong dream.”

She then drew a giant heart across an entire lane.

“Big love,” she said.

Kathy Saugstad, on the other hand, left a message for a stranger.

A snowbird, she’s been coming to the race the past half-dozen years. She always wanted to write on Alii Drive and this year she was determined to do it. About 10 days ago, she met an Australian racer and they conversed briefly. The man told Saugstad his name and bib number, and that was all she needed.

“Go, Dougal,” the message of support said to the racer who had no idea it was coming.

“I just picked him out,” she said. “I’ve always thought about doing the chalk thing, but I’ve never really done it. I thought this year, I’ll do it.”

“Go, go, go,” a lot of other messages read. Go Norway, go Deutschland, go my everything. “Tap, tap, tap,” read another message, which was meant as a reminder to racer Jo McLaughlin to keep her feet turning as she kept a 5-minute-kilometer running pace.

“It’s the sound of her feet,” said husband Brent Robinson, who left it. “Tap, tap, tap.”

One sign rooted for Vegan Jen, but went on to say she had crabs. Another drawing was meant as a directional sign, one arrow pointing to the finish line with the other pointing toward beer at the Coconut Grove bars. And there were plenty of flags.

None bigger, perhaps, than Gareth Edwards’ from South Africa. So big was the cloth, he tied one half to a speed limit sign pole and then stretched it out and held up the other side with his arm above his head. The black, green, gold, red, white and blue are eye-catching, and that’s exactly the point. His wife, Tracy Maikham, knows to look for it. It’s a small reminder of home but also a can’t-miss.

And sure enough, she saw it on Kuakini Highway and Edwards shouted to her in his native language, Afrikaans, which drew a smile from the racer as she passed.

ADVERTISING


“I told her it’s only going to get worse from here,” he said, unpacking his flag, which he planned to hang again, soon. “And that I’d see her out on the run course.”

Email Tom Hasslinger at thasslinger@westhawaiitoday.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.