Bulls Kona 2014
The Bulls trio of Bob Schloegel, Mike Malfer and Jim Myers set out to represent the Bulls at the pinnacle of our sport, the 2014 Ironman World Championships in Kona.
For Bob, this was old hat. For Malfer, he seemed to be on an unstoppable trajectory towards Kona. And for Myers, we had full confidence that both the Kansas City Royals and Jim Myers would appear in a world championship in the same year. And yet, hard work paid off and the three found themselves in the heat scorched lava fields of Hawaii.
According to Myers, "there are races that are hot. There are races that are humid. There are races that are windy. Only Kona is that hot, humid and windy. Ocean swells and sustained 22-26 mph winds (with 40 mph gusts) on miles 15-95 of the bike. Fighting a headwind out AND back on the Queen K was not expected." Evidently, Malfer was not daunted by the race conditions, describing the course as "flat, cold and no wind."
Even in these difficult conditions, the Bulls gave it their all. First in for the team was veteran Kona Qualifier, Bob Schloegel. There is some speculation as to whether this would be the last Kona appearance for the big guy. When asked this question at the J, Bob responded "Well, guys, I mean - that's how rumors get started." Then he announced his retirement. Later, the subject of Vineman came up and Bob said "Well, guys, I mean . . . that's a great race." And so, there is hope, particularly since this 2014 performance still tops the Kona races of his more youthful days.
Well guys, I mean, Bob pretty much kicked some butt this year at Kona, taking 9th place in his division with a time of 9:58:59. That beats his 2000 Kona time of 10:08:38 and 2001 at 10:00:55. This was Bob's 12th Kona appearance since 2000. His best time was 9:24:59 in 2011 which was good for 4th place in his division, a year in which he won his division at Ironman Lake Placid for the 2nd time.
Mike Malfer was second in with a time of 10:20:46. That included a 5:20 bike and a 3:38 run. The fact that Malfer qualified with an IMTX time of 9:38:23 shows how difficult the conditions at Kona can be. Mike was excited about his first Ironman World Championship appearance. Almost as excited as he was to do the famed "underwear run" at Kona. According to Malfer, "I am still on the underwear high. Now, that was the real race."
For Jim Myers, Kona capped a whirlwind, breakthrough season. He started the year on the sidelines, failing to register for Texas in time. He did no local races and only one early season event in Arizona where he almost got lost in the desert. Then, June happened and Myers excelled at what appears to have been the last Ironman 70.3 Kansas (come on - WTC, I hate Lawrence but that is a great race) and rode that into consecutive World Championships at Mont Tremblant and then Kona. Jim finished in 11:25:42 with a bike of 5:52:12 and a run of 3:51:56. Amazing considering he had just wrapped up his 70.3 Championship appearance a couple of weeks earlier.
When asked about his first Ironman Kona experience, Jim said, "Experience was second to none. Really neat to finally see all those things we’ve been watching on NBC for year. Practice swims at Dig Me beach and coffee at the floating coffee bar. Riding on the Queen K. Running in the Energy Lab. All of them were awesome. The underwear run was “interesting” as well. A nice older lady from Canada offered to let Malfer pet her beaver. Yes, I have photos of that exchange as well but I’m not putting those out for public consumption."
Of course we were all wondering whether Jim would make it through the swim. Jim said, "Practice swims were great, however, the swells really picked up the afternoon before the race. That night I laid awake ALL NIGHT listening to the waves pounding the lava shore beneath the balcony. Even pharmaceuticals couldn’t get me to sleep. Race morning, Mike and I were relaxing away from the crowd on a more secluded area of the pier and watching the safety boats head out. A volunteer walks up and says 'Pretty rough out there. The race organizer was really worried about it this morning' Malfer just looked at me and laughed. My swim went exactly how you all would expect after those comments."
Nonetheless, Jim had a great race along with Mike and Bob. Congratulations, Boys. And, well, I mean, let's do it again next year.