Maui Prep student Jonah Kirkham tops the field in Honolulu Triathlon
NAPILI – He is a young teenager with a gigantic heart and a set of lungs to match. A rising star in the grueling sport of triathlon competition, Maui Preparatory Academy sophomore Jonah Kirkham exemplifies the internal fortitude required in this most revered multi-sport regimen.
Most recently, the 15-year-old competed in the Honolulu Triathlon at Ala Moana Beach Park on May 12. This event features a Sprint Distance of a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike ride and a 5-kilometer run, while the Olympic Distance covers a 1.5-km swim, 40-km bike and a 10-km run.
The USTA had selected the Honolulu Triathlon to serve as the Hawaii High School State Championships for the first time. Young Kirkham, who had already competed in over 20 competitions, entered the Sprint Distance event with 200 others of all ages.
He exited the water after the swim in second place and then moved into the lead in the swim/bike transition. Kirkham maintained this position with a 34.43 bike effort and a 18.33 time in the run to finish ahead of the field in 1:08.27 – 1:13 ahead of second place Ben Zor of Oahu.
Kirkham thus defeated the entire field – including the Junior Division and the Adult category – that competed to capture the Hawaii High School State Championship and the overall title as well.
He now looks forward to the XTERRA Big Island competition on Aug. 24, and then to the feature event of the year: the XTERRA World Championships on Oct. 27 at Kapalua, covering his familiar practice courses next to the Maui Prep campus in Napili.
He looks for redemption at the October race, as in last year’s XTERRA World Championships, Kirkham got out of the water with the leading group, crashed during the bike portion and finished the race in the back of the pack. He thus has some unfinished business to take care of at Kapalua.
Jonah credits coaches Karsten Madsen, the coach of the Canadian national team, and Mike Ritter, Maui Prep and Masters swim coach, for his success so far.
He has also trained with – and is influenced by – Flora Duffy, an ITU and XTERRA World Champion; XTERRA Hall of Famer Dan Hugo; Bradley Weiss, XTERRA World Champion; and Ravosh Sumari West Maui cycling legend.