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Greg and Laura Bennett–touted at Thursday’s press conference as “the fittest couple on earth”–are both slated to race in Saturday’s Challenge Philippines. I sat down with the endurance sports power couple to learn what they’ve been up to over the winter and what this year has in store for them.
Triathlete.com: You two stayed at home in Boulder later than usual this year in order to attend Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell’s wedding–and for Laura to serve bridesmaid duty. Since then you’ve been back in your other home of Noosa, Australia. What have you been up to down under, and what are your plans this year?
GB: Yeah, we had a few dance-offs at the wedding! We’ve been back six weeks training, just easy stuff. In the past we’ve gone to Noosa and done 12-16 week camps and that’s a long, long time of consistency. So when this opportunity came up to come to the Philippines we thought it would be a good way to split the camp up. This is as much a kind of mid-conditioning phase camp break for us as a race. We’ll be here almost a week, have a brutal race in the middle of it, but basically also have some time down from training. When we get back we’ll probably slip from second to third gear in training. And then hopefully in April we’ll pick it up again to fourth gear, and really hit our season in May/June with a focus for September when the championships are. Both of us are fairly similar these days. When we were in our 20s we could hold a peak for a long time, and these days we find that as much as we have a lot of strength and conditioning, our real top-end peak, high-end threshold type work only lasts about four to six weeks. So we have to know when we really want to pull the trigger. We’re kind of waiting for that time later in the year.
Triathlete.com: In terms of championships, which ones are you targeting?
GB: Hy-Vee for me. It’s the biggest money race still. And then if I can pull up for 70.3 I will. But Hy-Vee for me is still the world championship for short course non-drafting, and it would be crazy not to make that a focus.
Triathlete.com: Laura, is the plan the same for you?
LB: You know, I’m still trying to figure that out! Honestly, I really think my career was ITU racing. And so now I’m trying to transfer over into these half’s, but I’m trying to find where my niche can be. My main talent–if I have one in the sport–I think was probably ITU, but I’m trying to figure out if I can be competitive at this longer stuff. I’d love to have a crack at one of the Ironman’s, maybe not so much for a career move but just to see what I can do and kind of test myself. But things keep popping up. I haven’t been comfortable on the TT bike and last year in my running I had a lot of mechanical issues. I get injured instantly, so trying to put that workload into my body, I need all the efficiency I can have. I need to have everything in place so that I can handle the work. I think that’s been my biggest challenge–all the details of going longer, not so much the passion for it or the mental stability for it or the patience for it or wanting to be competitive. All that’s fine, I think it’s just the details. I keep getting all these little setbacks. And it takes time with that stuff–you have to do all the training, and so you need time. So I don’t know–maybe I’ll try different distances in long course, long course world’s or something like that. I haven’t decided yet.
Triathlete.com: Greg, are you planning on doing the iron-distance again?
GB: I would never say never, because I used to say never and then I went and did a couple! I think it’s more that I’d love to do another Ironman, but biomechanically I don’t think my body loves it. I have locked ankles, which helps with power on the bike and even helps I think with three to five kilometer running, and then I can hold that to 10-kilometers and stretch it to 21, but I don’t think my biomechanics are suited to go longer. You look at Crowie or Rinny and they’re biomechanically gifted to that efficiency of running a marathon off the bike. I think I could be a lot better at Ironman than my first attempts–I’ve learned a lot the last couple years–but I’ve also realized that at 42 I’ve had my turn at that. I’m not going to have a career at it. I loved it, but my number one passion is still the Olympic distance. For me, that’s how I started in the mid-80’s. For me, that’s the biggest thing in the sport. And I mean this personally, for me, but I think non-drafting Olympic distance is the most pure triathlon of all. Because if you can’t swim, you lose; if you can’t bike, you lose; if you can’t run, you lose. You have to do all three well. For me it still has that place in my heart. I love Hawaii, it’s fantastic, but if you said, “Greg, would you rather win Hawaii or would you rather have your 2007 year and win all those races, or would you rather win at Hy-Vee–I love my shorter races. I think a lot of guys get caught up in wanting to win Hawaii for everybody else’s sake–because the media love it or the sponsors love it. But do you truly love the feeling of that race? I enjoyed it–don’t get me wrong–but the feeling of running at Hy-Vee in the stadium, with big money and knowing the world’s best showed up to beat me–that’s a highlight. That’s the buzz I love. And that’s what my body loves. So I’ll stick with that.
Triathlete.com: Meanwhile, on Saturday you guys are in for a seriously challenging half-distance course here at Challenge Philippines. Enjoy the day!