(ABOVE VIDEO) Video report on Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi’s participation in the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona. Video by David Corrigan, Voice of Sherry Bracken
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Over 2,000 athletes representing more than 68 countries and 49 states participated in the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro. Its Kona’s biggest annual event.
Hawaii Island was especially interested in the performance of one man in particular: Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi, who has been quietly preparing for this day for years. The mayor was invited to participate after he finished the “Honu” – Ironman 70.3 in Hawaii – a few months back.
Its not easy to find one man in a field of thousands, but Mayor Kenoi has a way of sticking out in a crowd. We first saw him in the dark, early morning hour before the race was set to begin.
The mayor later joined the sea of competitors for the age group start. Doing the honors at the cannon was the mayor’s wife. Takako blasted the start of the race as the mayor himself has done in years past. Kenoi was off on the 2.4 miles swim. His supporters cheered him on.
The mayor finished the swim in an hour and a half. His family was there to cheer him on for the transition to the bike, where a grueling 112 mile ride up the windy Kohala lava fields awaited him.
The bike was a close call for the mayor. He just barely made the 5:30 p.m. cutoff after 8 hours and 38 minutes. We caught these photos of the mayor starting on the 26.2 mile marathon, the final leg of his journey.
The island waited with excitement – and some concern – to hear of the mayor’s progress. This was the scene at the finish line just before midnight, where the age group ironmen and ironwomen received a hero’s welcome. Many were from Hawaii Island, and had inspiring stories of their own, like Eddie Ignacio, who finished the Ironman with 40 pounds of tactical gear on his body, to raise awareness for a law enforcement memorial in Hawaii.
The crowd was whipped into a frenzy with sporadic updates on Kenoi’s progress. Then: Six hours and 15 minutes after he started his run, and sixteen hours and 54 minutes since his wife fired the cannon, the mayor crossed the finish line. His family was there to celebrate… and so were the professional Ironman champions.
The Emmy Award-winning IRONMAN World Championship NBC broadcast will air in the United States on Saturday, Nov. 15.