Onno de Boer: IRON MAN Triathlon World Championships Hawaii

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Onno de Boer - Sunset at Hawaii

Xelvin can report with great pride that our colleague Onno de Boer, working at DAF Trucks, will take part in the IRON MAN World Championship in Hawaii on Saturday 11th October. This day he will swim 3.86 km (2.4-mile), bycicle 180.25 km (112-mile) then run a full marathon (42.2 km/26.2-mile) under extreme weather conditions. The coming weeks you will be updated on Onno's journey to this big event via the Xelvin website, but also through our social media channels. Karin, Onno's girlfriend, will support Onno during these trainings and of course on the 11th October.

This week Onno tells us about his preparations on the Island Hawaii, where the IronMan Triathlon will take place and the temperatures are above 30 degrees at the moment. The wheather circumstances are hard and the 11th October is coming closer!


"After our visit to Oahu we arrived on the Big Island now, or ‘just’ Hawai’i. The island consists of three active volcanoes. Amongst them is the largest volcano in the world, Mauna Loa, and the highest mountain of the world, Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is almost 11 kilometers high measured from the foot of the mountain on the ocean floor and rises 4200m above sea level. Because the island has these enormous mountains and has a similar circumference as the Netherlands, we have chosen to split our visit in two. The first week we are at the east shore of the island near the town of Pahoa, 30 minutes south of the town Hilo. From Honolulu we flew on Hilo and visited the town before we drove up to the house. On the local market we buy fresh vegetables and fruit that are locally grown and at the nature shop we buy additional healthy ingredients for breakfast, lunch and supper. On both sides of this island we have rented a privately owned house to be able to cook our own food to optimize preparation. This first house is situated 10km outside of Pahoa, in a residential area where constant volcanic activity in the Volcano Park situated to the south has marked the terrain and caused for dead end roads across the shore to the south where lava has destroyed all infrastructures. It is a spacious home with a large garden and a luxury kitchen. We stay here together with my in-laws for 6 nights.

Upon arrival we run for an hour through the residential area to loosen the legs. An immediate observation is the difference in landscape in this more inland habitation of the island. It is more hilly since land created by volcanic activity has a continuous angle of inclination. Because of the high mountains on a small area of land there are a lot of different climates present. In the east there is a wet tropical climate, which means regular rainfall and mostly fierce showers. We experience this in the first night, heavy thunderstorms pass by. The next morning is a little better but still provides unstable weather when I set out for a pre-breakfast bike ride, after assembling the bikes the night before. I ride down to the coast and back up the hill, a short roundtrip with 200m altitude difference each way. Because of the trees the inclination of the road is difficult to assess, however on the bike you notice by the force of gravity and the applied effort. After breakfast we ride a somewhat bigger loop along the coastline together. Due to the fact that we are close to the most active volcano of the island, Kileauea, we find the consequences of its outbursts of the past 200 years at the coastline. Serene black plains of lava with some habitats on top, there are people literally living on 30 year old lava fields. Places where no fresh lava has flown in recent history show tropical flora slowly taking over and residences are built everywhere. Big mansions overlooking the ocean and placed on the black volcanic stones with the constant sounds of the oceans pounding onto the rough shore. On this side of the island it is impossible to safely swim in the ocean.

For some additional volcanic experience we visit the Volcano Park, which was built around the Kileauea, in the afternoon. At the moment of our visit on of the newest craters, the Pu’u O’o is spilling lava over the island since its original outburst on July 27th. The lava flows, as opposed to other flows in the last few years, not through the park into the ocean, but straight to the town of Pahoa. The flow in approximately 12 km from our home and 3km from Pahoa during our stay, and on calm nights we can see the clouds from the burning forest. Impressive and yet unbelievable, the village of Pahoa seems to be evaporated in a few weeks time. The flow moves approximately 100m a day, so the inhabitants can at least somewhat prepare for the disaster. On Wednesday we visit the park again and run through a part of the Ka’u desert, a plain of volcanic rock originated from outbursts of Mauna Loa about 150 years ago. We also see how 5 years of outburst through a fissure changes the landscape and leaves the crater of Mauna Ulu as a crown on a previously flat plain.

Since I was little I always felt the need to climb mountains. So on Monday we go to the visitor centre of Mauna Kea. We drive up by car from the warm tropical climate in Hilo to the warm temperate climate on 2800m above sea level using the saddle road which connects the east with the west side of the island. In the final part of the ascent the road is too steep for our rental car. Therefore driving to the top is not an option. At the visitor centre we consider our options. We don’t want to hitchhike up, so we decide hike up the mountain the next day instead of the planned 4h workout. These two days the visibility on the mountain is far above average, therefore it is an excellent chance to get some island views from the top. After some short hikes to explore the surrounding area I take the bike out of the trunk of the car and ride down to Hilo in a descent that takes me only 45 mins over 40 km after which I continue the ride to the house. The next day we get up at 4:30 to watch the sunrise near the visitor centre at 6:00 and took care of the first of the obligatory height acclimatization breaks during the ascent. The warm clothes go back in the car after sunrise and we start the ascent in a sporting outfit. At high altitudes the air is dry and proper hydration can be a matter of life and death. We carry 2,5 liters each and quite a lot of food. In stages of about 1h at a time and 10 min breaks in between we hike up. We quickly start to experience the effects of the high altitude, breathing is heavy and a stinging headache reminds us of our bad preparation. We pass through the cold temperate climate and polar climate (tundra) on our way up. The last part before reaching the top might have been (in a completely different manner) even harder than the race this Saturday, but after 3h20 of hiking we finally reach the top at 4200m. We are dizzy and have headaches while taking the last pictures before racing down to avoid getting serious problems with our altitude sickness. We both feel hanging around at this altitude is not a good idea and on top of that the weather is deteriorating. On our way down we are caught in hail, which turns into fierce rain when we descent further to the visitor centre. 6,5 Hours after setting out on our trip (5h hiking time) we arrive back at the car soaked. The views and the hike where great, but we are glad to return to the warmth back at sea level.

The final day on the east shore we bike along the northeast side of the island. Halfway our ride we reach the outlook over the beautiful Waipi’o Valley. This side of the island is a flank of the extinct Maua Kea and the big amounts of rainfall have created deep valleys and some high waterfalls. We might come back to Waipi’o Valley to ride the rim on horseback later during our stay on Big Island.

On Friday it is time to pack our stuff to move to the other side, but not before we have cleaned the bikes in detail. Cleaning the bike before a race is an important part of the psychological preparation of a triathlete. We take the southern route around the island, which takes us to the most southern point of the US due to the position of Hawai’i. We stop for supper at the most southern bar of the US, where we once again experience a cloud burst. The rain is so fierce that the roads turn into waterfalls of their own. For a moment it is a bit freaky to drive through this in the dark, but once we pass over to the west side the weather immediately improves. So now we are located in Kailua-Kona where it is all going to happen. Our house at this side is again extraordinary and the first thing we did after the long drive was cool down in our private pool. There has been a heat wave in Kona for the past month which means temperatures well over 30 degrees centigrade during the day. We will see how this will affect the final preparations this week.

Onno de Boer"

Twitter: @TriOnno

Onno de Boer - Bezoek aan het Mauna Kea bezoekerscentrum Onno de Boer - Mauna Kea beklimmen Onno de Boer - Onto a Lava Lake Onno de Boer - Sunset at Hawaii


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