Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

Feeling fit and looking for a challenge, or need some inspiration to show up at the gym?

We followed elite athlete Debra Weier from Princeton, New Jersey as she pushed herself to her physical limits in beautiful, tropical Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, during the 2019 Vega Ironman World Championship. What’s it like to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles in one day . . . . especially as a 65 years old woman?

Debra didn’t start participating in triathlons until age 60. Before you think that’s old, consider there were three athletes over age 80! The oldest participant was 86 year old Hiromu Inada from Japan. The youngest was 18 year old Pauline Anouk Chloé Dauvergne from France.

Kona, Hawaii, Iron Man, Triathlon, fitness, debra weier,

What possessed Debra to become a lean mean running machine? A friend told her it would be fun!. (fun?)


Approximately 95,000 athletes attempted to win a slot in Kona, competing in more than 40 global Ironman events. Only 2,451 qualified. (73% men, 27% women)

Competitors represented 75 countries. Athletes from the United States topped the roster at 659, with the largest amount coming from California, Texas, Hawaii, Colorado and Florida. Internationally the pack was headed by Germany, Australia, United Kingdom and Canada.  

swimming, triathlon, ironman, Kona, Hawaii, swimmers, fitness

Thinking of joining the fun? Beware that triathlons are expensive.

There’s the swim, bike, run and nutrition coaching fees, race entrance fees, airfare, hotels and meal expenses, wet suits, special running shoes, a $500 helmet with $500 custom eye shades, shipping and tuning up your $10,000 racing bicycle, and so much more.

Don’t forget the training where you must schedule in swimming an average of 7 miles (11.3 km), biking 232 miles (373.3 km), and running 48 miles (77.2 km) per week. Exhausted yet?


Kona, Hawaii, triathlete, Ironman, bicycle, debra weier, pose

Congratulations to Debra, who managed to wake up at 4:45am and complete the race by 9:30pm in 80 plus degree weather. Best of all, she crossed the finish line with a smile, placing 10th in the 65-70 age group.



Kona, Hawaii, sunset, pacific ocean, waves, palm trees, restaurant lights,

After the race there’s nothing left but to enjoy your vacation in paradise. Those athletes deserve it.

We are all humbled, and will probably feel guilty complaining about our tough yoga class.

More information at www.ironman.com

photographs by Lynn Friedman ©lynnfriedman

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