Ironman

Get to Know a Kona Age Grouper: Gareth Hodgson

“My first goal for Kona is to enjoy it. It’s been three years of hard work to come from a total beginner to where I am now."

As you inevitably become gripped with Kona fever, you may be wondering what you can do to nab a spot at triathlon’s crown jewel. Every day leading up to the 2017 Ironman World Championship, we’re profiling age group athletes who’ve earned a ticket to the sport’s grandest stage so you can read about their journey, race plans, personality, gear—everything it took to make these athletes Kona material. Read their stories here and then get ready to cheer for them on race day.

Name: Gareth Hodgson
Age: 30
Location: Ceredigion, Wales, UK
Occupation: Small business owner
Race bike: Cervelo P3 in black and white
Sponsors/supporters: “I am a member of Sarn Helen running club, Ystwyth Cycling Club and also race for a racing team from south Wales, Team CRANC. I am currently sponsored by CrancCylcesport, Whittle fit coaching, BRAV Endurance, GG Designs, Ivor Thomas and sons and Greeper Laces.”
How I qualified: “I qualified for Kona in my local Ironman Wales in Tenby”

His Kona goal… 
“My first goal for Kona is to enjoy it. It’s been three years of hard work to come from a total beginner to where I am now, and I think I would be a fool to base the first trip out there solely on my performance and pressurize myself. My second goal as always is to empty the tank , give it 100 percent, and hopefully get a PB.”

His Kona fueling plan… 
“Fueling for me won’t change a great deal apart from the extra fluids needed from the obvious heat. Three Clif energy bars on the first half of the bike followed by two bags of power bar, power gel shots for the second half of the bike eating a little every 20 minutes. I will also be taking on salt stick capsules throughout the day. For the run, I usually have a cup of energy and a gel every 5k , finishing the last 10k with anything I can I get my hands on to be honest. I have yet to experience the heat out there and will get more of a detailed hydration strategy sorted after a few days training out there.”

Preparing for Kona’s conditions… 
“Nothing ground breaking here I’m afraid. For the past six weeks, I have been doing a low-intensity brick workout once a week in a heated room at home at around 30-35 degrees Celsius, gradually building the duration up to around 160 minute sessions for my last one. There’s plenty of wind here on the west coast of Wales, so I’m hoping this factor won’t hinder me too much, and I fly out a couple of weeks before the race so hopefully this will give me some time to acclimatize.”

The one thing that made the difference in qualifying…
“This is an easy one: discipline. There are a lot of top athletes out there and the sport is growing fast. If you cut corners, you’ll probably find out about it come race day.”

Advice for Kona dreamers… 
“Work hard and stick at it. I’ve yet to experience the actual race, but that moment your name gets called out for a slot is pretty special.”

Average sleep per night…
“It varies. Having two young children, it all depends on them I guess. The maximum I get on a regular basis is eight hours, and the least probably around five hours. It’s far from perfect, but it seems to work—just.”

On balancing responsibilities…
“Outside of training, I think I have the same responsibilities as many age groupers out there: work and family. I am a small business owner along with my wife printing and embroidering clothing. This has its positives and negatives regarding time management, but between the two of us we seem to get the job done. My other commitments are our two young children. One 21-month-old boy named Gruff and a six-month-old girl names Sian. I usually train early mornings, followed by breakfast with the family then get stuck into the work. We work from home so fitting a turbo session in mid-day or a short run is a pretty regular occurrence. Training usually takes up most of my evenings with a quick hour with the kids before bed, but not always. Sunday is our family time. I’ll train early morning and then spend the rest of the day going for a walk or have a trip to the park with the little ones.”