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A second wave of professional athletes is arriving in town in Phuket, Thailand in advance of Sunday’s Challenge Laguna Phuket triathlon. Several of these athletes came together on Wednesday morning at Thanyapura, Phuket’s world-class multi-sport training center, for a breakfast and Q&A panel. The event was open to the public and emceed by a duo of Ironman champions, Jürgen Zack and Chris McCormack. Here’s a sampling of what the athletes had to say:
Rasmus Petræus (DEN)
On the best Phuket race strategy.
“I think it will all come down to the run and making sure to hydrate and cool down all along the way. Watch your pace so you don’t go out to hard in the beginning and then blow up. If you can stay on the bike [many age group athletes unclip and walk up the daunting hills] I think that would be important because it’s also not too easy to walk up them. You just have to try not to go too fast at the start of the hill. Take it at an even pace and just keep moving.”
Radka Vodickova (CZE)
On her Phuket preparation.
“I had a long season. I started racing in February and now it’s almost December. The preparation went good, but I’m not sure if the body still feels like really racing. But Phuket is my favorite race so I’ll just try and do my best here.”
On changes in her life since she raced here last year.
“I did two changes this year. I changed first my boyfriend and later my coach as well–so big changes! I’m happy!”
On her chances against rival Melissa Hauschildt.
“I think Mel is arriving tomorrow afternoon. Maybe if her bike doesn’t arrive I could beat her!”
Belinda Granger (AUS)
Her advice for Challenge Laguna Phuket rookies.
“Do not go out too quickly because I can guarantee you won’t come home too quickly! The heat and even more so the humidity will kill you. Make sure you’re drinking electrolytes all week, not just water. You’ll start suffering and cramping on the bike and the run if you do not hydrate enough. On the bike I would start with two bottles of electrolyte, and then you can get water out on the course. You can never get enough to drink here, especially enough electrolytes. I’ll go through four drink bottles on the bike this weekend. Also make sure you’ve got the right gearing. I’ve got a 28 and I’d use a triple if I could!”
On how to tackle the Phuket hills.
“The biggest problem is a lot of the hills have moss and are wet and slippery. You need to try and ride the hills in the saddle, otherwise your wheel will slip and you’ll fall off. I don’t actually need the 28 normally, but if it’s really slippery that’s why I have it–so I can stay in the saddle the whole time. For us pros the road is empty, but there are many more people in the age group so it gets crowded on the climbs and you don’t have the luxury of trying to weave across the road. If you do come off the bike, don’t stress about it. Just pop your shoes off, run up, put them back on and go.”
Parys Edwards (GBR)
On the challenge of going out too fast on the run.
“It’s a problem for me, too. Recently I had a race where I was in second off the bike and I was so excited because for the first time I had a bike marshal. I decided to go for it–and had the most spectacular explosion! Since then I’m totally reliant on my Garmin. With my coach I’ve set myself a pace and I have to stick to it. If you haven’t got a Garmin, you can use your heart rate, or you can use markers on the course like the aid stations or the kilometer markers. Plan the times that you should be at those markers and if you get there faster, make yourself back off.”
Patrik Nilsson (SWE)
On racing in Phuket on the heels of his success winning Ironman Malaysia.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I like racing in the heat. I enjoyed that in Malaysia, especially on the run, and I know it will be the same here. I will really try to drink a lot, especially electrolytes, because you have to in order to survive.”
Carole Fuchs (FRA)
A first-year pro, on her experience living and training in nearby Bangkok.
“Living and training in Bangkok is a bit difficult. It’s very polluted and you have to take a car to get to any bike venue. Always when I am in Bangkok I am thinking: When can I leave to go to the provinces or to go to Phuket? My job is sitting in an office for nine hours, working as a lawyer. Normally I would get up very early and train in the morning and then train again after work–so I would not be very fresh for work! But now I have managed to change it to part time, as my boss is very good and supportive of me, so I work and then come to Phuket for long weekends to train.”
Allen Steen Olesen (DEN)
On his transformation from a swimming background to a strong cyclist.
“The swimming background was way back for me and I was eight or nine kilos heavier. Now my coach has made me lose weight, so I’ve lost some of my swim fitness. It’s hard to keep when you don’t have as much power. As for the cycling, it’s not new for me. I grew up biking 20 kilometers each way every time I had to go to the pool. Then I really started riding more seriously when I was 15 years old and it’s been easy to increase that fitness.”