Categorized | Featured, Multi-sport, Sports

Ultraman Day 1: 37 racers, plus one relay team, start at Kailua Pier

And they're off ... see ya Sunday. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

And they're off ... see ya Sunday. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

UPDATED, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27

The Hawaii 24/7 special correspondent on one of the Ultraman crews reports Stage 1 was tough on all the competitors. A strong headwind around South Point battered the cyclists and their times, with many arriving in soggy Volcano later than expected.

Two or three athletes did not make the swim cut-off.

Stage 2 takes the cyclists from their over-night stay in Volcano up through Hilo.

The 25th edition of the Ultraman World Championships got underway as dawn broke Friday over Kailua-Kona.

Thirty-seven of the world’s top athletes, plus one relay team, jumped into the water at 6:30 a.m. for the 6.2-mile swim to Keauhou, then it’s on their bikes to Volcano. Days 2 and 3 will see them continue around the island, finishing at Old Kona Airport Park sometime after noon Sunday.

Kathy Laska, 36, of Massachusetts, is competing in her first Ultraman, but she has some experience.

She served on the support crew for her dad, David Wilson, in 2001, got hooked on endurance sports, raced Ironman in Kona back in 2007 and finished two Boston marathons.

“It’s harder for him this year to watch her,” said her mom, Janet. “He’s recovering from back surgery, back he’s here for her.”

Laska’s husband, Brian, said it’s not so hard for him.

“It’s fantastic. She works out all the time, so I just get to play golf,” he said.

Compared to the very serious business that is Ironman, Janet said the Ultraman is almost calm.

“This atmosphere is so amazing,” she said. “They just want to finish and they are all here for each other. They are incredible.”

Her dad, David, didn’t admit being nervous.

“She’s done everything right. I hope she just has a good race,” he said.

“You know, when she crewed for me in 2001, she couldn’t bike or swim,” David said. “She really wasn’t an athlete. But I’ve been  doing marathons for 25 years, so I guess it’s in her. I’m so proud of her I don’t think I have the words.”

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Oh, sure. He's smiling NOW. (Hawaii 24/7 photos by Karin Stanton)

Oh, sure. He's smiling NOW. (Hawaii 24/7 photos by Karin Stanton)

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