This year, Endurance Sports Travel founder and 6-time Ironman champion Ken Glah will attend his 29th consecutive Ironman World Championship race in Kona. An amazing feat that extremely few athletes have achieved since the start of Ironman racing in 1978, Ken's accomplishment is one that speaks to his top-level talent and extreme perseverance. The unrelenting black lava coast of Kona often provides 45 mph crosswinds and scorching 95 degree heat as the backdrop for the drama found in the World Championships. But, those brutal conditions have not stopped Ken from toeing the start line 28 times previously with the thought each time of being the first athlete to finish on Ali'I Drive.
His accomplishment is even more amazing when you learn that he hardly has time to train since he travels around the world via his company Endurance Sports Travel, a full-service Ironman travel agency that gets athletes to races around the world. You can follow Ken on twitter (@ken_glah) as he makes his way around the world for the World Championships in Kona. Here In Kona, Ken was named an "Ironman Legend".
We were lucky enough to sit down with Ken to talk about this achievement:
How does it feel to qualify for the World Championships in Kona for the 29th consecutive time?
Ken: I feel very fortunate to have qualified for Hawaii this year so that I can try for my 29th consecutive finish. I was in moderate shape going into the race in New Zealand and did not race well until later in the run. I actually missed the slot by a place but after one of the older men did not take his slot (Garth Barfoot, a many time EST client from NZ) the math was redone and my age group was next in line for another slot. So, I literally got the last slot in the race!
How have you dealt with injury throughout the years?
I have rarely had to deal with injury in my career mostly because I listen well to my body and for most of the time I have been in the sport I have gotten a lot of massage work done. With the demands of the business and the constant travel my training has not been consistent and I have not taken care to get the massage work my body needs so I did sustain an injury this spring and have run and cycled only a hand full of times from late April till mid-June. I have been a bit more consistent with my running but with more than 3 weeks in Europe at 3 different Ironman races there was little time for cycling. I feel the injury is mostly healed and my goal is to try to be more consistent with my training and to get some massage, stretch more and strengthen some weaknesses that were discovered in physical therapy.
What will preparation prior to Kona in 2012 look like for you?
I won't be able to prepare very well for Kona again so my goal is just to get some consistent shorter rides, run and swims in from now through September when I am traveling and to have a week here and there where I can ramp it up a bit. I plan to go straight to Kona after the trip to the Beijing International Triathlon (a new concierge race that will be held on September 16th as a qualifier for Escape from Alcatraz). This should allow me to get in about 12 days of training before I taper.
Explain the importance of finishing #29.
The only real importance to finishing number 29 is completely personal. I won't be in shape to challenge for the top 5 in my age group but I would like to be fit enough that if I have a good day I will finish without any major issues and maybe be in the top 10 or 15. Finishing number 29 would be nice as it will then make finishing 30 consecutive Ironman World Championships a goal for 2013 and with me being in a new age group maybe I can find the time to get fit enough to really race hard in 2013.
How do you manage EST and dealing with the demands of racing Kona?
The main problem is the travel. I can get in a bit of training when I am home but this year it looks like I will be on the road about 225 days and that is where I have trouble being consistent. I need to somehow carve out 1 to 2 hours or so each day for training and then I would be able to have a reasonable fitness level that combined with a week here and there of higher volume and all my residual fitness from when I started running at 7 years old and doing tri's at 18 will be enough to get me safely through Kona.
How have you stayed healthy and completed the previous 28 Ironman Hawaii races?
Base work, consistency, massage, listening to my body (my injury this year was because of a lack of all these things), taking the necessary time off when I was training a lot and most importantly my love of training and racing. If I had the time I would love nothing more than to train 5 to 8 hours every day!
Check out the Nov./Dec. issue of Inside Triathlon for a 6-page feature article on Ken.