Girlfriend's Guide to Running Ironman World Championship & More! Kara Deschenes10/18/2012 Get an up-close look at the race that put Ironman on the map - the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i.The island of Kailua-Kona is known for desert-like lava fields that melt into turquoise water.Athletes line the the street for a chance to dine at the famed Lava Java.No wonder Lava Java packs a crowd! Check out the size of that sticky bun!Lava tunnels mark areas where the hot magma once free flowed through the land. Located about an hour outside of Kailua-Kona, Pololu Valley offers adventure seekers a rewarding hike.Pololu Valley features a beautiful black sand beach.A short drive to Waipio Valley (and a four-wheel-drive vehicle) down this steep, winding road results in an unbelievable view.Not too shabby. The treacherous drive is worth it in the end. Waipio Valley, HI Check out this rescue helicopter collecting water to put out a nearby fire.Breathtaking sunset above the clouds on the top of Muana Kai at 13,796 feet elevation.A local race, benefiting PATH (People’s Advocacy for Trails Hawai’i) brings runners down the famous Ali’i Drive one week before the big finish of the Ironman World Championship.During the week leading up to the race, athletes can swim the course and stop by the “coffee boat” for a mid-swim jolt of caffeine. Not a bad back drop for a race expo, right?The Ironman Foundation helps athletes achieve dreams. Some of the featured athletes include a 4-time cancer survivor, a man living with cerebral palsy, and two breast cancer survivors.Kids participate in the “Kei Dip-n-Dash” race a few days before the adult race.Future Ironman World Champions Six time Ironman World Championship Natascha Badmann was escorted in style at the Parade of Nations.More than 40 countries were represented at the 2012 race.Over 1,000 athletes took part in the famous Underpants Run this year. There’s nothing like running in your underwear to ease the approaching race-day nerves.The Welcome Banquet featured a tropical band and fierce warrior decor. Race morning = a sea of swim caps anxiously awaiting the cannon shot signaling the beginning of the race.Athletes thrash forward as quickly as possible in hopes of starting the day out with a fast swim split.Nothing says determination like an athlete who overcomes adversity to chase down a dream.Karen Adyelott was an Ironman athlete before losing her leg in a car accident while riding her bike. After the accident, she is still an Ironman competitor. Athletes transitioned from the swim onto the 112-mile bike course.To end the bike portion, athletes come around the “hot corner” on Palani Drive before setting out on the run course.Three-time Ironman World Champion Craig “Crowie” Alexander fought hard to gain on his competition. He finished 12th this year.Peter Jacobs captured the 2012 Ironman World Championship Men’s title with a finish time of 8:18:37. Jacobs celebrated his victory with his family after crossing the finish line.Americans Andy Potts and Tim O’Donnell finished in 7th and 8th place proudly displaying the red, white and blue.Leanda Cave’s family watches the jumbotron, hoping she will keep her lead to win the title.Leanda Cave won the Ironman World Championship Women’s title with a time of 9:15:54. Caroline Steffen earned second place, finishing a mere 64 seconds after Cave.An exhausted Mirinda Carfrae finished in third place for the women.Andreas Raelert (2nd), Peter Jacobs (1st), and Frederik Van Lierde (3rd) make up the Men’s Top 3.Top 3 Women: Caroline Steffen (2nd), Leanda Cave (1st) and Mirinda Carfrae (3rd). The voice of Ironman: Mike Reilly. Athletes from all over the world race to hear Reilly say, “You are an IRONMAN!”The last finisher: 77-year old Harriet Anderson crossed the finish-line with only 20 seconds to spare.The traditional fire dance marks the end of the 2012 Ironman World Championship race.