Categorized | Multi-sport, Sports

Ironman: Catching up with Macca and Bozzone

Terenzo Bezonne and Chris McCormack get on track ahead of next month's Ironman. (Photo courtesy of Ironman)

Terenzo Bozzone and Chris McCormack get on track ahead of next month's Ironman. (Photo courtesy of Ironman)

(Dawn Henry interviews Chris McCormack and Terenzo Bozzone, special from www.ironman.com.) 

Chris McCormack and Terenzo Bozzone take time out to chat at Lava Java in Kailua-Kona, just a month before the 2009 Ironman World Championship. McCormack and Bozzone had come directly from the Ironman 70.3 Philippines to spend a few weeks training together on the Big Island.

Q: What brings you to Kona at this point in the season?

Macca: I want to get comfortable with the island again. I usually race the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii [in late May] and spend a couple of weeks here then, but I didn’t come over this year. So I talked to Terenzo and he was game and so we decided to come now.

Bozzone: I love Kona. I love the heat. I love the small town, and the atmosphere that you feel when you’re here and it’s not October. Right now, everything’s quiet. Everything’s relaxed.

Q: You’ve both come to Kona straight from racing the Ironman 70.3 Philippines held on August 23. You raced together for much of the race, with Cameron Brown, Pete Jacobs and Timothy Marr in the mix. In the end, Terenzo crossed the line in 3:51:25 and Macca took second in 3:52:18. What was your experience like at this inaugural race?

Bozzone: It was a hot day. Very, very hot. The race was a great experience. The organizers did a great job in the way they put on the event and the way they treated all the athletes.

Macca: They treated us like gold. It was one of the greatest races I’ve ever done. The crowds were enormous and cheering.

Bozzone: Ultimately, the race came down to the run. Macca took off out of transition, but eventually I caught up to him and we ran together during the first lap.

Macca: We thought we had a good gap on Cameron. On the second lap, I thought I would let Terenzo go a little, get some fluids, and catch back up to him. Then I hit the wall. I saw Cameron behind us and I wanted to stay ahead of him.

Bozzone: I felt the heat, too. I blew up with 5 kilometers to go. I could see Chris and Cameron running behind me. I felt like I was running in slow motion. I just struggled across the finish line.

Macca: My regret is that I talked Terenzo into doing the race! I had told him before the race, “Come on, come to the Philippines! It’ll be great!” The thing I remember about that race is that it was hot. It took us a few days to recover from it here in Kona. But now we’re feeling strong. We’re getting in some big sets, putting in a big volume of work.

Q: Terenzo, what do you learn by spending time in Kona training with Chris?

Bozzone: Chris has been great in talking about nutrition, and how to race here. I’ve done two Ironman races this year, and while going from the 70.3 to the Ironman distance is a step up, coming to Kona is another step after that – the heat, the winds, the course, the competition, the pressure.

For me, Kona is ultimately where I’d like to succeed. So I want to learn as much as I can from Chris and try to have a good race and see if there is a potential for me to do well here.

Q: And Chris, what do you get out of training with Terenzo?

Macca: He’s a good training partner. He challenges me. I see him and I think, “You’ve got it all ahead of you.” I’m so envious. I wish I was 24 again. When you’re 24, you’re not thinking of the end. When I see a guy like Terenzo, I know he’ll be around when I can’t do it anymore and I’ll be telling my kids about him.

Q: Terenzo, you won the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 last November and then went home to New Zealand and raced your Ironman debut at the Bonita Ironman New Zealand, coming in second behind Cameron Brown. How did the jump up to the Ironman distance feel?

Bozzone: It was great. I’ve always been a big mileage guy, so there wasn’t much difference in the mileage, just more consistency. I was excited to be there. I’ve always gone to watch Cameron race. I knew he was going to be tough to beat and he still is tough to beat – he hasn’t been beaten – but he broke the record to win, so I felt like I gave him a good run for his money. In Germany (the Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship), I had a hard day at the office. I know with Ironman, if you do it well, you can have a good day. If you don’t do it well, you can have a horrible day.

Q: What would you like to get out of your first Ford Ironman World Championship race?

Bozzone: I’d just like to have a good race. I want to soak it all in, get the vibe of the race. I don’t expect to have a race without mistakes. I’m hoping that the mistakes I make are small enough so that I can fix them for future races.

Q: Chris, how are you feeling going into Kona this year?

Macca: My strength’s good. I’m fresh mentally. It’s impossible going into the day to say whether you win, lose or draw, but I think it’s going to be hard to beat me. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be an interesting race. There’s lots of good competition.

Q: You’ve been racing the Ironman World Championship since 2002, and you were 2007 World Champion. How do you keep yourself motivated to come back and give it your best each year?

Macca: I’ve been in the corporate world and I know it’s bloody hard. What I do, I’m blessed. I would do triathlon for free. I’ve always said that. I didn’t do triathlon to make a lot of money. I did it because it’s a sport I enjoy. I’m a competitive individual and my motivation is just to keep doing it for as long as I can. There’s a finite time with sport. My motivation comes with the idea that while I can do it, I might as well be the best that I can be.

Q: What advice do you have for Terenzo and other first-timers on October 10th?

Macca: To enjoy it. Remember that you’re lucky to be here. There are so many triathletes who have been trying for years to get here and you’re here.

The first few Kona races, I didn’t enjoy them because I was too caught up in it. It can take a long time to get comfortable here. There’s so much out there around the World Championship race. You’ve heard so many stories, you come in the first year and you worry about everything. There’s a lot time to think about how hard it is during the race. The wind cuts into your face. It’s a long way back from Hawi. And you can see how far it is back to town!

I had to relax into the race. Finally, I decided just to ride past the Kohalas and enjoy the wind on the way back, to come into town and run by my family. I didn’t get as caught up in the results. And I had a great race. Sure, it’s going to be a tough day. It’s going to be a tough day, I’m still going to be very, very competitive and I’m going to enjoy the opportunity while I have it.

Q: We’re sitting outside here at Lava Java with the Pacific Ocean behind us. You swam the course this morning. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Macca: Training here in Kona is a wonderful experience. If there are athletes out there who never get to Kona to race in the World Championship, they should come out to Kona and train on the course.

— Find out more:

www.ironman.com

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