“I had my game face. I was ready. I never had any issues in races. I just thought today is going to be no different. I’m going to go out there and have fun with a smile and enjoy the day just like every other race that I’ve done. So this isn’t going to be any different.”
These words come not from a veteran Ironman pro but from age grouper Carolyn Rohde who got a Kona race slot without ever having raced an Ironman. The 29 year-old Investor Relations Manager for Electronic Arts recently completed her journey to the Kona finish line, a journey that started in agony but turned to ecstasy.
atombash.com spoke with Rohde on October 22 about her amazing journey.
Mark Davis: How did you get the opportunity to race the Kona Ironman?
CR: “I was supposed to do Ironman Lake Tahoe as my very first Ironman in September 2014. That race was cancelled five minutes before the scheduled start because of the King Forest fire. It was the right decision; it was super smoky that morning. I don’t blame them for making that call but it was just absolutely devastating to work so hard all year and to prepare for that moment and not be able to race. The World Triathlon Corporation decided to do a lottery and randomly allocate the fifty Kona slots to the Lake Tahoe registrants. In order to be entered into that lottery you had to sign up for another Ironman. I signed up for Ironman Cozumel. I just happened to be lucky enough to be one of those fifty people that got a slot into Kona.”
MD: What was her reaction when you got the news?
CR: “Oh my God! I was so excited, I screamed, I was so happy I didn’t even hesitate accepting the spot. I had remembered watching the NBC broadcast the year before and learning about Kona and the excitement and the passion around it. I would love to do that someday but I’m just not fast enough to qualify. So getting in, it just seemed like the experience of a lifetime.”
MD: Was there a part of you that was scared?
CR: “Oh yeah, absolutely terrified. I knew that Kona was one of the hardest courses and I wanted to make sure that I was able to finish this race. It would have been really unfortunate to get this once-in-a-lifetime Kona entry and then get injured or burn out and not be able to race it. I made it my goal to do everything possible so that I could show up on race day healthy and prepared and finish.”
Next up: Carolyn Rohde’s road to Kona.