On Friday, November 25, thirty-eight ultra-athletes will once again plunge into the waters of Kailua Bay to begin what is considered to be one of the world's most demanding individual multi-sport events - the three days of the Ultraman World Championships.

This 6.2 mile swim to Keauhou Bay marks the start of the twenty-seventh annual Ultraman to be held on the Island of Hawaii. Day One of the event is completed on Friday by 90 miles of cycling to Volcanoes National Park. Each athlete is accompanied by a support crew in a well-marked vehicle. These support teams provide the vital aid each athlete will require to complete each day's course within the cutoff time of twelve hours.

The second day begins at dawn on Saturday, November 26, at Volcanoes National Park. The participants will then cycle 171.4 miles to Hawi, via Kalapana, Kapoho, Pahoa, Hilo, the Hamakua Coast and Waimea, finishing at the Kohala Village Inn at the north end of the island, after the climb up and over the Kohala Mountains. After a night's rest, they will lace up their running shoes in Hawi and complete the Stage III double marathon of 52.4 miles on Sunday, November 27, at Kailua-Kona's Old Airport State Park. Arrival time for the first runner could be as early as noon.

This year, the thirty-eight Ultraman World Championship participants come from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Slovenia, and the USA. Nine states are represented, including three athletes from the Big Island of Hawaii. These include two Kona residents, Cory Foulk, who will be participating in his nineteenth Ultraman, Kona lifeguard Laurie Beers, doing her third Ultraman, as well as first time UltraRookie, Susan Smith Nixon, of Kamuela. The women's field of ten will include the winner of the ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability, Amy Palmiero-Winters, who will be the first athlete with a below-the-knee prosthesis to attempt the Ultraman course.

Thirty-five of the athletes have completed at least one previous Ultraman, either in Hawaii, Canada or Great Britain, however it will be the first time for three of the athletes to experience the beauty and the challenge of circumnavigating the Island of Hawaii. Previous participants have called this event the most difficult they have ever entered, yet feel that it is the athletic highlight of their lives. Lasting friendships develop between the athletes and crews, many of whom are volunteers from the Kona community, or are Ultraman athletes from years past. All who complete the course within the twelve hour cut-off times each day are recognized as winners, and the trophies are the same for the first and last person to cross the finish lines.