Ironman Kona: A Specator’s Perspective

My Kona Experience

I recently traveled to Kona to see my brother Tommy participate in the Ironman.  To say it was an inspiration seems like a vast understatement. The expression “triumph of human spirit” seems more fitting. To see roughly 2,000 people participate in and (most) complete the grueling challenge was awesome. I was incredibly proud of my brother, and in awe the athletes, regardless of age, gender or athleticism. One of the most memorable takeaways from the weekend was the reminder of what a great business we are in — running rocks!

tom gart kona ironman triathlon finish

There were many components of the race that inspired me: First of all, they had more than 6,000 volunteers.

Second, I saw some strong people finish: cancer survivors, athletes with MS, a parent of a child who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, and a woman who had lost a leg after being hit by a car when she was training. Watching the finish, emotions ran high. I truly felt so privileged to witness this event, to see the power of endurance race participants, and to be in an industry where we can make a difference in people’s lives.

Kona, albeit a little crazy, is an example of the relationship between our customers and our stores. As I like to say, we “enhance people’s lives.” As I talked to many participants, I found that they love (I mean, Love) our stores or their own local running shop. This is true customer loyalty. That relationship can exist with any customer, whether they graduate from one of our training programs, get an alignment assessment on a treadmill, or join a weekly social run at our stores. This is why I love the running industry. We make a difference.

— Ken Gart, Running Specialty Group and  The Gart Companies

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