Kingma excels in Ironman
By Kathy Eastwood
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 6, 2013) — Class of 2014 Cadet Kelly Kingma, co-captain of the West Point Triathlon team, is currently in France at the Ecole Spèciale Militare de Saint-Cyr military school as an exchange student, but on Oct. 12 she was competing in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, for the second time. This year, she beat her previous Kona competition time by coming in at 10:29:41 and placing sixth in her division of 18-24 year-old women.
“This is a grueling 140.6-mile course beginning with a 2.4-mile rough water swim in the ocean, 112 miles on the bike over the rolling, wind-torn roads of the Hawaiian lava desert and ending with a 26.3-mile marathon distance foot race,” Kingma said.
As a world championship event and with the exception of a handful of so-called “lottery slots,” racers must qualify for the event either as a top 100-ranked professional athlete or by placing highly in their age category in a number of qualifying races held throughout the year.
“In my case, I qualified by placing first in my age group at the St. Croix half-ironman race in May,” Kingma said.
Kingma described the beginning of the swim race as somewhat chaotic, with more than a hundred competitors launching at the same time.
“At the sound of the starting cannon, swimmers plow though the gentle chop of the surf, clawing and kicking each other in a frenzy to find an open lane of water, if for only a few meters before running atop another swimmer,” Kingma explained. “Swim goggles are knocked off, faces and abdomens are repeatedly kicked and slapped as the first several hundred meters are all about surviving.”
Kingma said the swim course runs parallel to the beach and goes out 1.2 miles before swimmers could round a buoy and head back to the transition area.
“You are on your own against the elements,” she said. “Heat coming off the black tar roads surpasses 100 degrees, the scenery of the black lava field throughout the course is stark and unrelenting and the infamous cross-winds threaten to topple riders.”
Kingma said the first five miles of the marathon go by quickly, helped along by seeing family and loved ones cheering her on.
“From there, one enters a mental zone, shutting out most everything other than the repetition of a mantra to keep putting one foot in front of the other,” Kingma said. “As the miles click by, you fight to keep a consistent stride and to battle back the onset of cramping. It is the last 10 minutes that make this race so challenging and the reward of crossing the finish line so special.”
Class of 2014 Cadet Kelly Kingma is currently in the Semester Abroad program in France but traveled to Hawaii in October to compete in the Ironman World Championship. Courtesy Photo
Kingma said she began competing in triathlons with her father, Gordon Kingma, Class of 1980, when she was about 12 years old and continues to compete whenever she can.
“It has been my honor and privilege to represent West Point and the U.S. Army at the Ironman,” she said. “I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my teammates and coaches on the West Point Triathlon Team.”
News, photos and roster of the West Point Triathlon team is available at www.usma.edu/triathlon/sitepages/west%20point%20triathlon.aspx. Stay current by following the team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WestPointTriathlon.