The Ironman competitors you need to know

These athletes each have a unique reason to swim, bike, and run to the World Championship finish.

The IRONMAN triathlon distance—2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run—is grueling no matter where in the world it takes place. The king of all IRONMAN races, though, is in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii each October. To qualify for the World Championship, one must finish another IRONMAN near the top of their age group (though there are exceptions). While pro athletes flock to the starting line each year, there are some “regular” folks that beat the odds to earn a coveted spot in the race each year as well. It’s those not-so-average Joes that we’re celebrating leading up to the 2017 race, happening on Saturday, October 14th. Here, meet three—with unique perspectives—that’ll jump in to Kailua Bay this weekend, plus their insights into the evolution of the sport and top travel tips for spectators and fellow athletes alike.

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A love letter to: the river

Blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer thrives in the challenges of the rapids.