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Ironman champion Luke McKenzie makes his Challenge Laguna Phuket racing debut this Sunday in Thailand. I caught up with the proud new papa (McKenzie and girlfriend Beth Gerdes welcomed baby girl Wynne in May) to learn how parenthood is treating him and what he’s looking forward to about this weekend’s race.
Triathlete.com: Life has changed for you in a huge way this year with the birth of your baby girl Wynne. I know that your result in Kona was not quite what you hoped for this year–but how does your perspective on your performances change as you look through the lens of fatherhood?
LM: Honestly, the whole season wasn’t great. I scaled back my racing so I didn’t have too much travel or too many commitments with Wynne’s arrival. I knew I would never get that time again and I wanted to be present and enjoy it at the same time. Obviously Beth needed the support through it all as well, so I just selected a few key races to focus on. Looking at it in hindsight I think the lack of racing really hurt me when it came to Kona. I didn’t have all the shorter races in my legs and I felt out of routine with competition. Training on the other hand was going great, so there is a lot to be said for actual race experience. Coming home to Wynne after a few tough races put everything into perspective. I will give everything I have in every race for her. It wasn’t my best year of racing but the motivation going into 2015 is stronger than ever and I look forward to continuing to share the journey with Beth and Wynne.
Triathlete.com: Your own father, Peter (a well-known triathlon coach in Australia) is a wonderful guy and a huge supporter of yours. What is one of the most important lessons he’s taught you in terms of your triathlon career? And what’s one of the most important lessons he’s taught you about parenthood?
LM: Dad has been there since day one. He has seen the ups and down of my career and I can always trust in his advice. He has always reinforced that patience and persistence is key in Ironman racing. As a parent he has been a role model of the man I want to be: hard working, humble, caring and a good family man.
Triathlete.com: I believe this is your first time back to Phuket since 2010. What made you decide to come this year? What are you most looking forward to about the race itself?
LM: I can’t wait to return to Phuket. I didn’t get to compete in 2010 due to injury so it will be my first time racing. I decided I wanted to finish the year with an event that I really want to do, rather than one I had to do for any other reason than for the pure enjoyment aspect. Phuket really fit that criteria for me and I really want to sure that with Beth and Wynne.
Triathlete.com: As a daddy now, will you still enjoy some time at the legendary Phuket after party?
LM: Haha–I hope so! It’s my last race of a long season and I can’t miss the legendary party. Beth is racing Ironman Western Australia the following weekend so I don’t think she will be out too late.
Triathlete.com: Let’s talk about the MO. First of all, hats off to you for joining in the Movember fundraising effort once again. Do you have any concerns about the MO slowing you down during the race–either because it might make you less aerodynamic or because it might be too hot? And fans want to know–will there be a new Men of Triathlon calendar this year?
LM: There will be a 2015 Men of Triathlon calendar. It’s in the works and can be pre-ordered now (menoftriathlon.com). It’s good fun and supporting a great cause! Honestly, my Mo isn’t really that impressive and there isn’t much of it there to slow me down or create aerodynamic drag. Considering my father rocked one for most my childhood you would think I could grow something better!