People

Gustav Iden: Get to Know the Youngest 70.3 World Champ Ever

Long course tri’s newest star talks Norwegian confidence, Insta followers, and more.

Gustav Iden may only be 23, but his athletic resume is as lengthy—and as impressive—as his more experienced competitors. Though he’s been a fixture on the draft-legal ITU circuit for years, Iden only recently raised eyebrows on the non-drafting scene with his convincing win over heavily favored Brit Alistair Brownlee at September’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice, France. Iden is now turning his attention to the 2020 Olympic Games, where he hopes to secure Norway’s first ever triathlon medal.

“When I was a kid, I got into competitive cycling because my father was the head coach of the local youth cycling team and my brother and sister were on the team. He didn’t want us sitting around inside. I thought I’d be a professional cyclist and race the Tour de France one day, but I also loved running. And in cycling, running is looked down upon because it’s thought to ruin your legs.”

“Before triathlon, I won a gold medal in cross-country (running) competing for Norway’s junior national team. I also competed in the 2,000-meter steeplechase on the track. That’s probably where I got my speed from. I didn’t start swimming until I’d already been recruited by the national triathlon team. I’ve come a long way with swimming, but still have much to improve on.”

“I’m still living at my parents’ house in my home town of Bergen, Norway. Most of the time, I’m away at training camps or traveling for races. Living in my own place would be a waste of money. And Norway has centralized all of the triathletes here in Bergen, with great training facilities. It’s very convenient to live at home.”

“Bergen is on the west coast of Norway, so we don’t get all of the cold weather and snow that other parts of the country do. We actually get a ton of rain. It’s not ideal weather for training, but we have become very efficient on the trainer, and we have a beautiful indoor pool here. And I don’t mind running in the rain, you get used to it.”

“I am a very confident athlete. In this part of our country we are known to speak what we mean and to believe in ourselves. I did think I could win the world champs. It was still a huge boost, but it wasn’t like it was a shock for me as it seemed to be for the rest of the world!”

“Before the world champs, I had about 8,000 followers on Instagram. Now, I have more than 32,000. During the race, my brother shouted at me from alongside the course: ‘Keep it up! You already have 700 new followers!’”

“I was in Japan for a training camp and found a cap on the side of the road. I thought it looked pretty cool, even though I didn’t know what it said because the writing was in Taiwanese. I wore it on the run at the world champs, and people watching in Taiwan went nuts! The hat comes from a small temple there. Now the temple has sold out of the caps—and I have a ton of new fans from Taiwan.”

“I want to get Norway on the podium at the Olympics in Tokyo next summer. And then, I’ll focus on Ironman and doing well at Kona. That will be my end goal.”

Gustav Iden’s Favorites

Pre-race meal
Bread with Nutella
Training Destination
Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain
Race
Lausanne World Cup
Pre-race music
Progressive house and electronic
Idol
Norwegian cyclist Thor Hushovd
Book
1984 by George Orwell
If I weren’t a triathlete, I’d probably be:
A teacher