The road to Kona - Interview with Will Clarke

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.

Did you have a strategy to qualify for Kona this year?

“I started the year with no points unfortunately, because I broke my shoulder before last year’s Kona, so my strategy was to get a lot of points early in a Championship race. So, I went to Texas, I had a great race and finished 3rd, which pretty much got me most of the way to qualifying.” 

What is your favourite part of this race?

“I actually enjoy all the hype around the event, it’s the only race of the year where everyone is watching, everyone’s interested and all the best guys in the world are present and it feels special to be part of it. I like the process of trying to be in your best shape possible at the right time and I love a good old gossip at the end of the race about all that went on during battle.”

What are your expectations for Kona this year – will you be in the Top 10?

“You have to aim for a top 10 in this race otherwise you may as well stay at home as a pro. The prize money stops after the 10th place and so does the recognition. I’d like to crack the top 10 this year. I think for a podium you have to be on a bit of a different level, but if you’re able to finish top 10, on your day that can also turn into a top 5.”

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

“I think the physical side is still the hardest, you have to be in such good shape to be successful in the race and that requires a lot of hard graft every day through the year leading into Kona. However, if you’re not mentally strong you’ll never get through the training and you’ll also get found out in the race when the going gets tough. Any good athlete will be very strong mentally and physically.”

Since you are a well experienced Ironman athlete, do you have tips to overcome the jet lag?

“The best advice I can give is to get out to the race or an area quite close by (like San Diego for a race like Ironman Hawaii) with enough time to adjust. We’re talking one day per hour of time zone change for a full adjustment. Then try to get into the time zone as soon as possible, so change your watch as soon as you get on the plane. When you touch down I’d suggest getting out in the day light as much as you can which also helps adjustment.”

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

“9/10. I also need the nerves to get myself in race mode.”

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

“Speak to my wife, debrief with my friends, shower and change, get a burger and fries and drink a few beers. I much prefer the day after race day though, there is always a great party in the evening.” 

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

“Again, burger and fries, but to be honest sometimes this meal is a bit of an anticlimax because often your stomach is messed up from the day.”

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

“My wife, then my team manager to give feedback to the sponsors.”

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

“I’ll usually treat myself. If I make some prize money and I’m feeling flush, then I might go and buy myself or my wife something or maybe take a nice holiday at the end of the year. It often depends on how it all goes, as that effects your mood big time!”