A record number of bikes were on the pier in Kailua-Kona this year - over 2,300, including the largest women's field in race history. 28 % of the field were women.

LifeSport head coach Lance Watson gives tips for athletes interested in qualifying for Kona.

I typically like athletes I coach to refrain from Ironman until after age 25. The early twenties are dedicated to developing threshold (higher output) and biomechanical motor patterns (skill) to maximize long term potential at the longer distances. This can be a part of your overall Ironman World Championship developmental plan.

Alternately, with aging athletes, recovery slows down and staying healthy is key due to increased healing time. The upside is that you have years of training and life experience to tap into which gives you a great foundation. The winner of the senior categories is typically he or she who slows down the least over the golden years! Emphasis is on more aerobic work helps while staying healthy. Smaller portions of intensity contributes to maintaining cardiovascular and neuromuscular stimuli and fitness responses.

Choosing a race

Note the number of qualifying spots available at each race. In some bigger races qualifying spots will go to fifth or beyond, and sometimes spots roll down if higher placing athletes pass on their qualifying spot or have already qualified in previous events. You can look further down into the results at your target race online. You may not have to actually win to qualify. August, September and October races tend to have good opportunities as many competitive age groupers have already qualified and are preparing for Hawaii. Newer, remote Ironman races may also have more opportunity. If you like heat, bike or run hills, or a non-wetsuit swim, these can all be distinct advantages. Choose your course carefully.

Top attributes of Kona qualifiers

Qualifying for Kona is a big goal. Taking your dream and turning it into Ironman reality combines solid training programs with incredible desire. Consider getting an experienced coach with a track record of excellence to help personalize and refine your program, and who will create a high performance support network for you. The first 90 per cent of your potential is much easier to achieve than the last 10 per cent. Like an Olympian or professional athlete, it takes a deeper look at the finer details of your training environment, skills and goals to maximize your lifetime potential.

LifeSport head coach Lance Watson has coached a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group Champions over the past 28 years. He enjoys coaching athletes of all levels. Contact Lance to tackle your first triathlon or to perform at a higher level. Find more tips on Twitter @LifeSportCoach