Racing Kona After 50

triathletes at the Endless Pool at the IRONMAN World Championship Expo

The IRONMAN™ World Championship in Kailua-Kona is known as a grueling 140.6-mile course. Still, the event draws its fair share of older triathletes who inspire us with their stamina, grace, and commitment.

In honor of the 40th anniversary of this iconic event this year, we pay tribute to two triathletes who prove that you're never too old to push past old limits to achieve the unthinkable. Both stopped by the Endless Pool at Kailua-Kona in 2016 to discuss triathlon training and the commitment it takes to endure in this challenging sport.

IRONMAN After Retirement

Rob Ladewig has owned an Original Endless Pool since 2005. In 2015, he completed his 30th IRONMAN and his eighth time at Kona, where he’d finish 31st in his division.

"I'd get up at 2 o'clock in the morning and jump into our Endless Pool and swim for 30 minutes to two hours," Rob recalls of his triathlon training while still working at his full-time job! In assessing the triathlon course at Kona, Rob says, "It tough!" And that's the characteristic understatement that you'd expect from a senior triathlete!

Still racing in his late 60s, Rob's motto is, “If you can’t beat ‘em, outlive ‘em.”

Discovering IRON in her Golden Years

Carol Blattspieler was racing her 5th IRONMAN and her second at Kona, where she finished 20th in her division. An orthopedic nurse practitioner, she first came to the Endless Pool through her practice, referring clients to it for physical therapy, before using it personally for “instant feedback” on her swim stroke.

"If you're interested in improving your stroke," she says of the Endless Pools underwater mirrors, "it's going to help you." That's sage advice from a woman who learned to swim at age 30. 

Many professional triathletes, including Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, Lionel Sanders, and Andrew Starykowicz, use their Endless Pools for stroke and endurance training. And these age-groupers also find our swim-in-place technology useful for its amazing simulation of open-water conditions!

We wish the very best to all of this year’s IRONMAN athletes as they take on the heat, humidity, and 140.6 miles of the toughest course in triathlon! To hear more stories from triathletes at Kona, check out our Triathlon Training Video page.

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