The Ironman World Championship is widely considered to be the pinnacle for the sport -- the Super Bowl of triathlon, if you're into that lazy comparison. It's a day for the world's best to compete for 140.6 miles in the hardest single-day race on Earth, and in some of the sport's most grueling conditions. It's a day history is made, legends are written and minds and bodies are pushed past what was previously thought capable.
But it's also a day when the spirit of triathlon in on full display -- positive thinking; making the impossible a reality; competing against rivals while at the same time, recognizing you're both in this sufferfest together.
Triathlon is growing, and that brings with it consequences both good and bad, but as long as moments like these continue to happen, the sport will be just fine.
12 Best Examples of the Spirit of Triathlon at Kona:
1. Just before they raced against each other for 140.6 miles, Meredith Kessler and defending champion Leanda Cave had time for a hug.
2. Pro Caroline Steffen sacrificed valuable seconds of her race to pick-up a bike helmet she knocked over.
4. Mirinda Carfrae broke Chrissie Wellington's record at the Ironman World Championship. And who was cheering on Carfrae during the run? Chrissie Wellington herself (that's her on the bike):
5. Carfrae eventually caught some of the pro men, like Luke Bell and defending champion Pete Jacobs -- who both stepped aside and cheered her on as she passed.
6. Chris McCormack, a two-time Ironman World Champion, was unable to race this year because of mono, but that didn't stop him from spectating -- and cheering fellow Australian and three-time winner Craig Alexander.
7. Kona can humble even the world's greatest, including defending champion Pete Jacobs. He walked some of the race with Luke Bell, and the two eventually crossed the finish line together.
8. During the pinnacle of their sport, teammates Yvonne Van Vlercken and Leanda Cave took a brief moment during the run to encourage each other.
9. What's your excuse?
10. Hines Ward finished about an hour ahead of fellow celebrity competitor Gordon Ramsay ... and then waited around to greet him at the finish.
11. Doesn't get much better than finishing your 100th career Ironman with your son.
12. At the very least, the sport can offer some unique motivation.