The road to Kona - Interview with Ronnie Schildknecht

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 are known as ‘Mister Ironman Switzerland’, winning the Ironman in Zurich nine times! How different is it to prepare for Ironman Kona compared to Ironman Switzerland?

“It's a totally different build up as you have to prepare and race in a very hot and humid climate. That is why I came to Kona almost four weeks early. It is also late in the season, so I have been racing and training the whole year. The key is to stay fresh by the end of the season which is a challenge and requires a bit more rest and body feeling not to overdo it.”

What was your strategy to qualify for Kona? 

“I knew that after my 5th place in South Africa I needed a top 5 in Zurich. But, honestly, not winning Zurich but qualifying for Kona was at first no really satisfying as I was not happy with my race in Zurich. On the other hand, I am really motivated for Kona and really want to have a result that I can be proud of.”

What is your goal for Kona this year? 

“The goal will be to crack the top ten.”

Did you change/adapt anything in your preparation compared to last year? 

“I came to Kona a bit earlier this year, as I think it is key to get used to the heat and humidity. I hope I will feel a tad better on race day. Training here in Kona already is really draining compared to training in California, where I trained the last few pre-Kona years.”

Being an adept of Ironman, how do you mentally prepare? Do you have any tips to anyone who wants to race his/her first Ironman? 

“I think you need to do a certain volume of training that gives you the mental confidence that you can do it. Of course, there is also a mental aspect of how to attack an Ironman on race day. The key is patience and to stick to your plan. Bad patches will come so you have to be prepared for them. That’s why you do it right? It’s a big test for body and mind. To overcome these lows, you need to really dig deep and that is why that finish line means so much for anybody who ever crossed it.”

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

“Before the start? A ten!”

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

“I think I head for a cooler place inside and have a bite!”

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

“I think after a race like this it’s anything which indulges me. Burgers and fries plus a coke! After that first meal I will also get a recovery shake later on before bedtime to speed up recovery.”

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

“Of course about my family. My daughter and my wife are so supportive and I always miss them when I am away.”

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

“I will spend a lot of time with the family and train a bit less the weeks after Kona!”