Kevin Mackinnon celebrates the leadership of Diana Bertsch

Ironmanlife: It starts from the top

There's a reason the IRONMAN World Championship is one of the world's premier events, and her name is Diana Bertsch.

By Kevin Mackinnon

Within a corporation that’s growing by the millisecond and a sport that is taking off in leaps and bounds, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Add in a certain cyclist who was bringing a huge amount of attention to each and every race, and life gets a bit crazy. Just as it all seemed ready to completely blow up, Diana Bertsch stepped into my life as I was getting ready to cover IRONMAN 70.3 Hawaii.

“Kevin, you need to just do what you do,” she said. “Let me worry about all the other stuff. My job is to enable you to do what you do best. You focus on writing, and let us help you deal with all the rest.”

That’s what separates Bertsch from pretty much every event director on the planet. Before she came on board here in Kona, it wasn’t unusual for me to walk around during race week and hear people mumble about how other events were as good or better than the world championship. Those days are long gone. This event does our sport justice every October despite challenges that virtually no other major event on the planet has to deal with. (Have you ever tried to ship timing mats and systems to an island in the middle of the Pacific? How about finish line bleachers?)

I’m not the only one who feels the support from this super-woman. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a conversation with her that hasn’t included the word “ohana,” the Hawaiian word for family. You want a team leader? She is the master at building a team full of people who will do whatever it takes to achieve the goal she has set in front of them.

Which is why, during race week, Bertsch manages to strike fear into your heart while also enveloping you with a sense of support. This is a woman with her eye on the prize. She is working her tail off to make sure this race is a huge success. The fear I feel? I am just worried I won’t do her incredible spirit and support justice.

And I’m hardly the only one. I’m guessing you can ask each and every one of the folks working at this event and they’d tell you the same thing. We all want to do an incredible job because we’re bound and determined that our team is going to knock one out of the ballpark.

Like the quarterback of a Super Bowl Championship team, Bertsch helped me stay focused on what I needed to worry about last June. Since then she’s repeatedly proven to me that she’s got all our backs, which is why we’ll all work out tails off tomorrow to cover hers.

She’d expect nothing less of herself and us.


We’ll see you in the morning.


You can reach Kevin Mackinnon at


You can read a great story about Diana Bertsch here.