The road to Kona - Interview with Bart Aernouts

Vifit Sport is a proud partner of the BMC-Vifit Sport pro triathlon team. Seven out of eight athletes of the team qualified for the Ironman world championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. We spoke the athletes about their preparations and expectations for the race. 

You’ve been in the top 10 in Kona three times already, what is your objective for this year?

“I always try to improve on my previous performances in Kona, but It will always be a very unpredictable race. My goal is a top 5 result but I’m mostly hoping to have the best triathlon race of my career in Kona this year. This would be the best start for a great result ;-)”

Did you do anything different in your preparation this year?

“This year I’m working together with a new coach who has a lot of experience in racing Kona – he won the race twice himself and coaches a previous winner as well. So, the whole preparation was of course a bit different and new, but the basics remained the same. I’ll do my last training block in the USA (Arizona) again to adapt to the warm weather conditions. The last 2 years I went to Lanzarote, but I felt the need to try something else this year.”

What do you think is the hardest: physical or mental preparation for an Ironman?

“In Ironman racing the mental strength is crucial, but I feel confident to know how to get ready for this and it won’t cost me that much energy. For me the physical preparation is still the hardest part as I don’t feel I had the perfect day in Kona yet. It’s a lot of hours of work and it will still be a puzzle to get it 100% right.”

Do you have a special nutrition strategy? 

“Yes, my nutrition is always adapted to the race distance and most of all to the weather conditions. Because of the warm and humid climate, I’ll drink more and use a higher amount of sodium during the race. Similar to big marathon events we also have access to personal nutrition during the marathon in Kona and I make use of this opportunity as we don’t have this in most other races.”

Is this in your opinion the most important race of the year, or not? 

“Yes, Kona is by far the most import race of the year in Long Distance Triathlon. It’s the race that everybody knows and where our sport ‘was born’. But it’s also the race where all pro athletes are trying to qualify for and aim for the top spot in their best shape. This makes it not only the most know but also the most competitive race in triathlon.”

How nervous do you think you will be at D-day on a scale of 0 – 10?

“It helps to have some experience and it will be my 7th time racing Kona, but I’ll still be very high on the scale. Let’s say it won’t be a problem to get to 8 on race morning ;-).”

What is the first thing you think you will do when you finish?

“Hug my girlfriend and have a seat somewhere in the shade, enjoying an ice cold drink, and letting it all sink in.”

What is the first thing you think you will eat after your performance?

“After Full distance Ironman events I’m usually not hungry at all. But the first thing I’ll eat will be something savory!! No more sweet stuff after 8 hours of sugar overdose ;-).”

Who is the first person you think you will call after the race?

“This will be my daughter. Good or bad race, it doesn’t matter, she will be great to put it all in perspective and just talk about ‘kids things’ in life.”

Do you reward yourself after such a performance and if so, what is your ultimate reward?

“I do reward myself with some quality time with my loved ones after this race. Leading up to events like Kona they have to miss me a lot and the biggest reward is to spend a lot of time together again. I’ll also take a short break with some days where I’m not even thinking about swimming, biking or running!”