Anne Thilges - runner, triathlete, and Luna wearer - wrote up a blog for us on her experience at the Ironman Thriathlon World Championships. Thanks Anne!

I am thrilled to be able to guest-blog for the Monkeys at Luna Sandals. Please return often, forward to friends, and leave nice comments so the good folk at Luna do not regret giving me the opportunity!

I get to tell about wearing Luna Sandals at the Ironman Triathlon World Championship race in Kona, Hawaii this month. That was such a fun experience! But first let me explain why my Lunas were the best footwear choice on the Queen K that day…

Luna Sandals are the ideal footwear for Ironman racing – and for all triathlons. Kona is hot; that’s for sure! My feet kept cooler than any other competitor because my toes got to feel the ocean breeze and any water that fell upon my feet only served to cool me more. I saw runners out there with socks and shoes and it made me hot just looking at it! Why so bundled up in hot weather? If those same competitors were out, just walking around that day, they would have been wearing flip flops. Why not the same cool footwear on race day?

The reason other racers were wearing socks was to protect from blisters. My good friend, Nurse Rae Ann, did a foot check just after the race and gave me the “all clear”: No blisters, no blood. Feet felt good. Triathletes’ feet swell during the bike segment and those swollen feet rub on the insides of tight-fitting shoes. My feet got to spread out and relax after the bike, with no constricting shoe uppers. Also my feet got to dry out, being exposed to the fresh air. Triathletes’ feet are wet from minute one in the swim, don’t dry during the bike, constrained in bike shoes, and are prunes by the time the run comes along. Then with all the water being dumped upon us during the marathon, it is no wonder those poor Ironman feet get blistered. The runners I went by sounded like they were running on wet sponges because their cushioned shoes just held onto the water. My feet were able to dry quickly and I stayed comfortable. I fully expect to see many others running in Lunas at next year’s World Championship race!

Oh, and I must note that wandering around town after I finished my race, I still wore my Lunas because they still felt good. I noticed that no other racers were wearing their running shoes…. In fact, most had changed into flip flops – not so unlike my Lunas!

As for my Kona experience…. I love it that the World Championship is not just a one-day event. It is a full week of fun events and building excitement. Every day, more and more people dropped into town and the crowds got crazier. The highlights each day were swimming out to the Coffees of Hawaii catamaran for free coffee, meeting with my PacWest Athletics race team at the sea wall to people-watch, and participating in the underpants run. Yes, of course I ran in my Lunas. Oh, and it was at the coffee boat and the underpants run that I got to see two of my favorite men in triathlon, John and Bevan of IM Talk. They were very interested in seeing me run in my flip flops. Being from New Zealand, they gave me the nickname, Anne “Long Thong” Thilges. They knew I’d cringe at the idea of running in my thongs!

The Ironman World Championship race is such an impressive production! I have seen photos of the swim start and I can’t believe I was a part of that. Watching the arms and legs churning up the water looks scary in photos and it’s never all that much fun in the water, either. However the warm water and gentle swells made up for any bullying that was going on. I started just underneath the starting cannon and I think I regained my hearing by about the half-way mark. Whoah! That boom woke me up!

Cycling down the Queen K Highway is indescribable. At times, one can see for miles ahead: A never-ending string of cyclists, tucked as aero as possible for the rides of their lives. I kept my head down as much as possible but not so much that I could take in the landmarks: Waikoloa Village, where I stop for food during training rides, the turn at Kawaihae, where my friend Leslie was cheering (despite her contempt for the heat!) the bushes full of hibiscus, indicating that Hawi was not far way and along with it a respite from the blustery, swirling winds! I loved bombing back down the hill from Hawi and welcomed the sight of the Kona Airport, indicating that I would soon be running in my Luna’s.

Finally the run. This is my favorite section because I get to be close to the cheering crowds and drink all the Coke I want; and I like to drink a lot of Coke during an Ironman! I don’t touch that stuff on any other day but during Ironman it is yummy stuff. I love that the kids of Kona come out to help us at the aid stations and they are so enthusiastic - giving me cups of ice and telling me I am “hard core” (because I am running in slippers!) I don’t know why anyone would complain about the Energy Lab. It is beautiful running down toward the shimmering Pacific Ocean, and again more kids: The aid station way down there was being managed by a local middle school. What a great community!

I was almost disappointed to be finishing… But the sun was setting and I wanted to get in before dark (spurn the glow sticks!!) I spent the rest of the evening eating ice cream and cheering the most enduring of racers in to the finish. I love everything about Ironman racing!

Thank you Luna Monkeys – I love my Leadville Pacers!

I absolutely welcome your questions about wearing Luna Sandals during triathlon racing. I have completed over 25 Ironman races and they are the best of my footwear choices. Look for me in my Lunas on November 27 at Ironman Cozumel.

Do what you must; just make it great!

Anne “Long Thong” Thilges aka Flip Flop Girl

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