Training TipsAdvancedRace

How to get prepared for Kona

by Zone3

All races require preparation, but there are a few races requiring more than Kona. Kona is a unique and challenging race, making your preparation process all important. Its warm climate and demanding course make Kona the ultimate test of both your physical and mental stamina, so tailoring your race strategy, training and kit is essential. ZONE3 want to help you nail your Kona preparations so that you’re ready to take on the challenge of Kona come October.


Kona – The 5 W’s


A small group of friends came up with the crazy idea to compete in a 3.8-kilometer swim, a 180-kilometer bike ride, and, if that wasn’t enough, a 42-kilometer run in 1978, all to see who the best athlete was. 40 years later, Kona is home to more than 2400 athletes who earned their spot on the starting line from their season heroics.


Kona is home to the IM World Championships and takes place in the October at the end of every triathlon season. The triathlon season can be a long and tiring journey as it is, and Kona never shows any let up for the incredible athletes that earn their qualification to this prestigious event.


Hawaii's big island, which is on the West Coast, is where Kona is located. It is well-known for the fields of black lava rocks that border some of the bike and run sections of the course. Although Kona may be visually beautiful, we doubt you'll be taking in many of its sights while you're focused on overcoming the challenging tests Kona is asking of your mental fortitude.


To receive the title of "Ironman." This title belongs to the triathlete who performs best across the individual disciplines and crosses that finish line first!


October 6 – 8, 2022


Course Considerations and Training Tips:

Swim: As with all full distance triathlons, the swim distance is 2.8km. However, the water temperature in Kona is far too warm for athletes to be allowed to use wetsuits. Take a look at ZONE3’s Kona Kit Essentials below for more information. It’s also worth noting that Kona is a mass start event, despite the brief intervals between the elite men, elite women and age groupers – everyone will be in the water at the same time and this can become quite chaotic, particularly with how the route is laid out.

  • Tip 1: Swim without a wetsuit. Your wetsuit offers increased buoyancy, helping you to stay above the water more easily and swim faster. Therefore, it’s important to practice similar distances without a wetsuit and build up your confidence before race day!
  • Tip 2: When it comes to the event try not to be overwhelmed by the amount of people in the water, just keep your head down and one stroke at a time. You could practice this by finding alternative training locations that may have a similar atmosphere to the one in Kona.


    Bike: The bike distance is a gruelling 180km and most of this hard work is done down long barren stretches of road, hugged either side by Kona’s black lava rock fields. However, this won’t be the hardest thing you’ll have to contend with on the Bike. Athletes at Kona are all tasked with managing a very tricky crosswind, making the bike section feel even longer than the 180km. The crosswind will slow you down by making you less aerodynamic and doing its best to throw you out of the TT position.

  • Tip 1: Once again, your best bet to cope in these tricky conditions is to make your training as transferable as possible. Practicing in crosswind conditions will only make you more prepared for what you can expect to face at Kona.
  • Tip 2: Your choice of clothing will affect how aerodynamic you are. ZONE3 lead the way in product innovation and our tri-suits are designed to be as fast and comfortable as possible. Two things you’ll need come Kona!


    Run – This is where Kona will really start to show its teeth! After a 180km bike, you’ll begin your last leg (most probably on your own ‘last legs’ too) which is a 42km run. At this point you’ll really be feeling the heat, so staying as hydrated as possible is key to getting yourself over that finish line.

  • Tip 1: Train in the heat – get your body used to working in the extreme conditions you’ll face at Kona.
  • Tip 2: Nutrition and hydration need to be on point in build up to race day! Learn more about the best way to fuel up before race day with our Nutrition Guide.


Kona Kit Essentials:


ZONE3’s Swimskins are the perfect answer to the warm temperature waters in Kona. Our Swimskins are incredibly hydrophobic with an absorption rate of 5% among the lowest in its class. Designed to minimize the effects of drag and allow greater freedom of movement, there can be no doubt that our Swimskins are the perfect choice for Kona this year!

Venator-X Goggles

An essential for any open water race. Award-winning in design and with ultimate all-round visibility and protection, these goggles will provide you with maximum comfort and elite-level performance. You can rely on ZONE3 goggles regardless of weather or water conditions with polarised mirror, photochromatic and tinted lens options.


The perfect training and race-day bag, with separate compartments to keep your kit organised and a waterproof section to keep away from your other valuable items. Rock up to Kona with one of these on your back and people will know you mean business!


As discussed, the crosswinds at Kona are going to try their best to slow you down and throw you about. To contend with this, you’re going need to be as aerodynamic as possible and the tri-suit your wearing will have a big impact on this. Our ZONE3 tri-suits offer the ultimate speed and comfort that you’re going to need in Kona.

Congratulations on qualifying, you’re in for an amazing experience on Ironman’s main stage. Find out more about the event here. Finally, good luck in Kona, go get it!


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