Ironman Kona: Chris Lieto


Chris Lieto was gunning for the victory this year at Kona, but he came in second to Craig Alexander, who won last year, too. Lieto's great on the bike, but he knew he needed to work on his run. He took the task seriously and trained with Ryan Hall in Mammoth Lakes, California. First place didn't happen, but Lieto did manage to bag a personal best, beating out his sixth place finish in 2007. Not bad. And there's always next year.

He spoke with Outside Online after the race about how it all went. To find out more on Lieto, check out our October issue here.

–Aileen Torres

You trained with Ryan Hall. How did that get started?
Through some mutual friends–Josh Cox. And I knew there was agood crew up there, so I went  to go train. We just hit itoff. 

It must be very hard to run with Ryan.
I followed him a lot. Tracked him down, followed hisfootprints. We would do some tempo runs together and some track work together.We wouldn’t do the same interval, but we would be close. It gave me a chance tobe around that environment and get the encouragement of a crew. It wasn’t justRyan. It was a whole group of guys and girls up there.

What would have been a good run for you?
I thought for sure I would have been able to run a 2:52today. It was a rough day. It’s not what I wanted, not what I expected, but I’mhappy with the performance—a performance where I was pushing from the front thewhole time instead of just playing more tactics. More about just pushing myselfand seeing where it was gonna get me. That’s the way I always race.

How did you feel racing against Craig Alexander?
We’ve raced a lot together. We’ve had a sprint finish in thepast. At one point, around mile 20 or 18, when there was atime split, I was doing some calculations in my head. I thought, my god, thismay turn out to be a sprint finish again. But then I hit a couple of toughspots. I mean, this race is really tough. It’s really hot. For me, it was theheat coming on. My quads were also burning pretty bad. You just get stretcheswhere you’re running immensely slow, and your body’s not used to running thatslow. Mylegs took more of a beating.

How did you feel when you knew you came in second?
I didn’t give up when he came by. He dropped me, and he was upthe hill. I figured there’s a chance that he may hit a rough patch again, so Ididn’t give up. I stayed on top of him. I was waiting for him to falter, and hedidn’t. I’m happy with second. I would’ve much rather have been first, but Ihad a good performance, and I had a lot of encouragement from a lot of theathletes out there.

Photo: Chris Lieto and Craig Alexander at the finish line.

The most popular annual Ironman event took place at Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii Saturday, October 10. Outside Online'sAileenTorres covered the race, and she'll be taking a look back at what happened, too. You can check out heraccompanying blog, “Hawaii Adventure,” for tips on what to doand where to stay if you're planning to visit.