Well, when we’re pretty sure you asked, we at TRS Triathlon listen. Luke is a family man, a gentleman, and after his record-setting win last weekend, apparently some kind of super man. Hear all about how his Kona mistakes turned into a crushing victory in WA, and laugh along with us as Luke makes fun of TRS Triathlon publisher Ben Hobbs, in this weeks’s edition of the Weekly Webstey.
Interview with Luke McKenzie, winner of the 2015 Ironman Western Australia
First off, congratulations on your record-breaking victory at Ironman Western Australia! You said on your Facebook page that you were looking for redemption after your Kona DNF. Do you feel like “winning all of Australia” (to quote one article) granted you some measure of redemption heading into the off-season? On a scale of 0 to “finally stopped having Kona nightmares”, how much extra satisfaction did the record time add to the victory?
The Kona nightmares have definitely stopped now. It’s hard not to beat yourself up after a bad race with all the hard work you put into it. I was really motivated to finish the year with a big result and to win, go sub 8 and record the fastest time on Australian soil all in one hit was beyond my expectation! It was definitely very satisfying.
Your daughter Wynne is only about a year and a half old now. Are you surprised at how quickly you were able to shed your baby weight and get back to winning form? If you had to guess, how many times would you say someone has made this same joke to you?
This is a joke? People tell me all the time I have lost weight when I have hardly fluctuated 3 lbs in the last few years. I always have a good chuckle the amount of times people come up to you at a race like Kona and say “gee you’re looking fit” which is code for you look skinny. Who doesn’t turn up to Kona “looking fit” besides Ben Hobbs?
More seriously, do you find that having a daughter to support has added more inspiration to succeed in your career – and/or more self-inflicted pressure? Do you think about your family a lot during a race, as motivation?
I often think of Beth and Wynne while I am racing and I find it definitely helps to motivate me. I definitely feel that strong urge to want to provide for the family even more now Wynne is in our life. I also think it makes the bad days easier when I get to come home to her and I am still just plain old dad – win or lose.
Speaking of family, your wife Beth Gerdes finished 15th in Kona this year, barely a year after giving birth to Wynne. Awesome eh?
Beth had an amazing year. Not only 15th in Kona but her first Ironman victory at Ironman Switzerland was also another highlight for us. I am very proud of what she has achieved since returning to racing. Can’t wait to see what 2016 holds for her!
Sorry, that was barely a question. I gotta loosen up my toque over here. Did you make any nutritional adjustments in WA based on your issues in Kona? Or have you figured out what went wrong yet?
Yes, I think in Kona I didn’t pay enough attention to my usual nutrition plan and got caught up in the race. I was riding really well and moved to the front of the race but then realized 20-30 miles had passed and I hadn’t even touched my nutrition. An extremely rookie move for someone as experienced as me. I then made another huge mistake of trying to get too many calories in at once to “catch up” and that caused me to be sick and start vomiting further down the road. I should have known better and still curse myself. The good thing is I took that lesson away and followed a strict fueling plan and I had he race of my life at IM WA.
Speaking of GI issues, were you disappointed not to have Timbo’s nostril-caterpillar chasing you on the last half of the run? Are you guys fair dinkum* Aussie buddies, or were you secretly glad his thigh-chafing day came to an end? *I added this to see if Google would offer to “translate from Australian”
I am fair dinkum good mates with Reedy and I was disappointed for him he didn’t have the race he wanted. He is such a talented athlete as proven by his 70.3 results but he hasn’t been able to convert that to Ironman (yet). It will take time and patience but he will crack one in a big way very soon.
If you hadn’t DNF’d at Kona, would you have raced WA?
Good question. Probably not. I have raced another Ironman a few times in November/December with mixed results. Kona takes a lot out of you and personally I find it hard to recover. So the DNF turned into a blessing in this case. Can I use the word “blessing” on TRS? I just got myself unfollowed …
Hypothetical question: if you could trade your WA race for a finish at Kona, what placing would it be worth? E.g., would you give up your WA win for a top-10 at Kona? Or would it take another podium finish? Answer carefully, my reputation as a top-notch journalist is at stake here.
Another great question. I am going to lean towards the victory at WA and the sub 8 hour time. To achieve one of my biggest goals in the sport would be hard to trade. Kona will be there again next year.
Now that the season is over, do you and Beth have any big plans for the off-season? Spend some time in Noosa, back to California? How much downtime will you take, if any?
We are going to spend the summer here in Noosa and enjoy some downtime. Lot’s of time at the beach with Wynne sounds like a good plan. We won’t be back in California till next summer at this stage.
Finally, do you have any idea how to pronounce Sarah Piampiano’s last name? Do you enunciate the first “i”, or not? Asking for a friend.
I would go for Pee – amp – pee- arno (in an aussie accent). She had an amazing year and to back up a 7th in Kona with an Ironman victory is impressive!
I’m sure you are itching to enjoy some time with Beth and Wynne, so I’ll leave it there for now. Thank you so much, Luke, and congratulations again!