by Quintana Roo Triathlon September 17, 2019

The countdown to Kona is on!

There are only a few weeks left until the Big Island is swarming with athletes ready to toe the line, so we decided to follow up with a few QR athletes that are racing. See what they're doing to prepare for the 2019 IRONMAN World Championship in Kona and how they are balancing training with everyday life.


Olivier: Road to Kona



I am a French Triathlete, 43 years old, living in Japan with my Japanese wife and 2 kids.

I have some swimming background and have been running during my thirties many marathons in Europe and Japan. I started Triathlon 10 years ago in Japan as I thought I could not improve further my running performance (2h47' in full and 1h19' in half). I am part of Triathlon in Tokyo, a group of passionate Triathletes living around Tokyo, gathering both Foreigners and Japanese.

Starting on Olympic distances, I could improve continuously, particularly on bike (my weakest point as I had a swimmer-runner profile). I am now targeting each race to be in the podium (either overall or age group) in Japan. I started from 2016 longer distance: with my first 70.3 in Taiwan where I got a slot for 2016 70.3 WC in Queensland. In 2018, I competed my 3d 70.3 at Xiamen China in 2018, targeting a slot for 2019 70.3 WC at Nice. I finished 6th in my age group: enough to secure a slot for Nice and then the dream comes true: 3 slots for Kona were to be delivered, 2 athletes passed, one was missing, and the final slot was finally for me. Incredible! I was dreaming to run Kona once but no so early: Kona will be my first Full Ironman! Only sport can bring such joy as it relates to dedication, performance, pain and chance... But the chance still continued: Triathlon in Tokyo informed I got a new frame from QR with my Kona selection. I have chosen a PRfive with Di2. After a bike fit, it became my 2019 weapon.

So, 2019 was dedicated to my first IM training. Busy with work and family, I have a maximum of 15 hours to allocate on my training. I am basically following methodology from Matt Dixon as described on Fast Track Triathlete. I have to adapt to my professional requirements (Sales director for an automotive part supplier), to my family schedule (2 kids of 7 and 9-year-old). My target is to make my training as efficient as possible, mainly alone, listening to my body, pushing hard when it needs to. I have focused on bike. As a result, with the PRfive, the proper bike fit, interval, endurance and strength sessions, bike is now becoming my strongest point in the last races (70.3 JPN 3d in Age group for instance). My PRfive is very stable over 38km/hr and makes me feel I can push further. The Di2 makes the bike adapting smoothly to my condition.

I am of course looking forward to running Kona, even I have the doubt always linked to the first IM. The 14 weeks training block is going well. My family is fully supportive, and the 2 kids are getting also passionate for Triathlon, following me in many competitions and supporting the Elite French team before the Tokyo Olympics.

Looking forward to meeting soon the QR team at Kona.




Erin: Road to Kona



I qualified for Kona last year at IMFL. It was quite a fiasco since PCB had recently been destroyed by a hurricane two weeks before the race date so Ironman moved the race to Haines City. A lot of scrambling and changing of travel plans to make that happen! The new course was really tough with a lot of technical turns / out and backs to make the full distance work on a 70.3 course but Ironman really did a fantastic job and the volunteers were AMAZING! IMFL was my third full so I guess third time really is the charm to pull off an AG win!

I work full time as an engineer in management at ExxonMobil supporting an operations unit so work is 24/7. It’s difficult to manage long training sessions so the majority of my training is broken up in multiple 60 or 90 minute workouts twice a day (sometimes 3 or 4 on weekends) and I always take one full day off each week to recover. My coach (Tim Floyd with Magnolia Race Team) is excellent and is able to plan my training so I get the maximum benefit from an average of 15-16 hours per week. A lot of interval work and three strength training sessions per week focusing on a lot of stability and full body integrated movements. 

Balancing life and work and training is challenging! But I enjoy the grind and seeing how I can improve against my previous self every day. I do think it’s important to remember that life happens too - for example I just spent the last 8 days in Italy for my sisters wedding. I managed maybe one 45 minute “workout” most days but training took a backseat and that’s okay. When I’m back in the states it’s back to the grind! All about #balance.

Read more about Erin taking on IRONMAN after shoulder surgery here.




Greg: Road to Kona



My name is Greg Schaefer, a team member of the Elite Team of QT2 Systems. I was fortunate to qualify in IRONMAN Florida XC age group slot. I have been competing for two years and am super excited for this opportunity to race in Kona. 

I was a Division I college basketball athlete that still had the competitive spirit and wanted to chase down some new dreams. 

I just completed IRONMAN Lake Placid and have since moved to Miami to heat acclimate and prepare for the humidity in Hawaii. 

The road to Kona has been hard balancing a full-time job, family life and two young boys that want me to play instead of train. I constantly remind myself about how many people dream of this opportunity and push through those long tough training days. Very grateful to QR, QT2 and my family for their support. Mahalo!!




Melissa: Road to Kona



My road to Kona is probably a little different than most of the other athletes on this blog!  I didn't qualify for Kona, but instead won a Kona Dreamin' lottery slot this year!  I was automatically entered into the drawing with my Ironman Texas 2019 entry.  I honestly didn't even know this lottery existed until I received an email saying I had won.  I thought it was a scam until I watched the video and heard Mike Reilly call out my name!  Needless to say, I was shocked, and so excited!  

Ironman Texas was my first triathlon in nearly 3 years, and it didn't disappoint.  I DNF'd IMTX 2014 as my very first Ironman attempt so I had some serious beef with this race.  I ended up having an awesome race and had so much fun!  Coming off Texas I had almost six full months to prep for Kona and so far, I've had a really amazing training block, hitting some paces and watts I haven't seen in YEARS!  

I work full time as a Technical Account Manager for an Oil & Gas software company and am incredibly lucky to have a super flexible schedule.  There are still plenty of 4 am wake up calls, mostly to swim before getting to work.  I've spent most of my cycling training on Zwift.  It's safe, keeps my bike clean, and saves a ton of time!  Running is the biggest struggle currently as I train through the Houston heat and humidity.  I know it's perfect weather for Kona preparation, but that doesn't make it any less brutal.  My coach, Tiffany Johnson, has done an incredible job getting me Kona ready, both mentally and physically.  Her workouts are challenging me in new ways, but she stays so in tune with how I'm feeling that she knows when and how we should push harder or back off.  

Looking forward to meeting the QR team in Kona!!!

Follow Melissa along the way at




Arno: Road to Kona



I qualified for Kona at Ironman Western Australia last December. This year will be my 8th Kona in a row. 

I have been doing triathlon since 1990 and as of today, I have done 37 full Ironman events, 3 Ultraman events and a double Ironman. My best results so far have been to go sub-9 twice at age 47, being an ITU Long Course World Champion and winning a full Ironman (Evergreen 228 in 2017). I also cherish my 3 Ultraman finishes where I ended respectively 1st, 3rd and 2nd.

I am currently on a PRsix – for 2 years, I have ridden QR bikes and wouldn’t change it. I am consistently riding faster than I did on any other bike I owned. My PB so far on a full was at Kona – 4 hours and 37 minutes.

My current set up is:

  • PRsix Army Green with Gold Decals
  • SRAM Red ETAP 1 x 12
  • 454/858 Wheel Combo on Conti GP5000S
  • Zipp Vuka Aero Cockpit
  • Dash Saddle 

I’m looking forward to adding another Kona finish to my list of accomplishments!




Ariana: Road to Kona 



The last time I was on the Big Island of Hawaii, I was 16 years old and had just started triathlon. I had only done a few sprint triathlons at this point, but I already knew triathlon would be a huge part of my life. Many of the souvenir shops in Kona carry Ironman World Championship apparel year-round. I walked into one of the shops and decided to get an Ironman hoodie. The woman that checked me out asked if I knew anyone that had competed in Kona. I said, "no, but I'm going to race here one day". I know she didn't take me seriously, but this was the first time I ever expressed my desire to race on the Big Island. 

Seven years later at age 22, I raced my first Ironman in Vichy, France in 2018. By this point I had raced at sprint distance, Olympic distance, and 70.3 distance Worlds. The full distance was the final triathlon World Championship to check off my list, and I finally felt like I was ready to qualify. I put a lot of thought into where I wanted to race my first Ironman. I settled on Vichy because I felt the difficult, technical bike course suited me. Also, I love doing destination races! I rationalized that even if I didn't get a Kona slot, I would have the experience of a lifetime! Thankfully, my best friend and experienced Ironman athlete Kara was able to come support me! The race was the most amazing, rewarding, challenging experience of my life. I got tossed around a bit in the swim, but I flew through the bike course. So by the time I got to the run course, I had a 40-minute lead in my Age Group. However, the run is my weakest discipline. Every lap of the bike course, my competition was gaining on me. After gutting it out, I finished in first place and maintained a 20-minute lead!

Since qualifying for Kona, so many things have changed in my life. Shortly after Vichy, I won and set the women's record at a 208mi Ultra road cycling ride in West Texas called the NCOM. I graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in biology and minor in business. Most importantly, I applied to genetic counseling programs and got matched to the program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences! Genetic counseling is my dream career, and it's even more competitive than medical school with only 30% of all genetic counseling applicants getting matched into programs each year. It's been very difficult to balance training with graduate school in full swing. Kona is in the middle of mid-term exam season! I've had to adjust my goals for Kona based on all of this, and I'll only be on the Big Island a couple days before the race. This might not be the year that I finish in the top 10 of my age group, but I'm going to enjoy myself to the fullest. I just hope to learn from racing alongside the best in the sport. My long term goal is to pursue triathlon as a professional one day, and I hope that Kona 2019 can bring me one step closer to achieving that dream!




Rich: Road to Kona



I’m very fortunate to say 2019 will be my third trip to Kona - something I don’t take for granted. The effort, training consistency, talent, luck and, most of all, support and sacrifice from my family and friends are the ingredients that have led to the privilege I have to toe the line in Kona on Oct 12th.  

After a long and successful tri season this year, I’m focused on the final 5 weeks leading up to the big day. I’m going to use the time to put the final touches on my training - the last bits of necessary volume, sharpening up my swim technique, rounding out my cycle and running speed, taking care of my nutrition and focusing on maintaining a positive outlook that I am counting on to carry me through my race.  

With all of the above in the bank, it all comes down to solid execution, smart racing and my speedy PR6. Can’t wait!



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