The day after the Ironman World Championships in Kona, I meet a man at the dump who let it be known that he was very happy that the competition was done and everyone was going home. He then went on to complain how much he was inconvenienced (the dump, where I met him was closed one day). I mentioned that I was very grateful for Ironman. As a local small business owner, I did a lot of Ironman printing and signage. It was very good for my business, I told him. He then grumbled, “but think of all the restaurants that had to close” (for one day).
I did. In fact, I know the owners of a lot of these businesses. Not one of them was complaining. If fact, like Kona Impact, they were grateful for the extra business in the two weeks prior to and the days after Ironman.
Indeed, every business owner I know likes Ironman. The period from September to Christmas is a slow time for visitors to the island, and since the island keiki are in school, their parents aren’t spending much either. It’s just a quiet time, a time punctuated by the two weeks of Ironman when nearly every condo is booked, the restaurants busy, and every business associated with them has more work. The room cleaners have work, as do the taxi drivers, car rental agents, food suppliers, street cleaners, store clerks and just about everyone else in town.
Sure, we get it that some people are annoyed by the cyclists riding two and three abreast on the streets, and, yes, it’s a bit hard to get around on the race day. But, balance that with impact of having 1,000+ athletes and their supporters in town for at least a week, often longer. Also consider that over 3,000 local residents volunteer race day and the effect that has on building a better community and the Ironman Foundation makes very generous grants to many local organizations.
So, the next time you hear someone bad mouthing the Ironman World Championship, consider that there is a huge amount of workers, suppliers, volunteers, non-profits and business owners that disagree.