Alistair Brownlee: Sick of missing out on St George but focus shifts to Sub7

An ill Alistair Brownlee pulled out on the eve of the Ironman World Championship in St George – and watching the live coverage didn’t help him feel better.

“Some of the worst days of my career,” was how the two-time Olympic champion described last weekend in Utah as he made the belated decision to withdraw from the highly anticipated competition where he was among the favourites.

“In the space of a few days, I went from believing that I would be completely competitive to having a race that would ideally go the way I would have liked it to go. It was frustrating.

Why didn’t Alistair Brownlee participate in Ironman Worlds?

brownlee finished fourth at Oceanside 70.3 in California in April, after leading for most of the race before fading in the final mile, and was looking to make a full recovery heading into the first Ironman World Championship to have had location outside of Hawaii.

“I was really quite sick a week before Oceanside and was completely wrecked after that run, so he did a blood test and he showed a flare up of glandular fever.

“I kind of improved and thought I was fine. I got back to training and trained well and then a week before St George started to slow down.

“Then I felt really tough and not in a great place to race. I didn’t want to start and not be able to compete.

“I had a decision to make, and I left it until the day before – as late as possible – and it was absolutely heartbreaking to decide not to race. Being in St George and watching the race on Saturday was really difficult.

Alistair Brownlee’s next race

Brownlee’s next target is the Pho3nix Project Sub7Sub8 competition in Germanywhere the competition against Kristian Blummenfelt he will attempt to become the first triathlete to complete the iron distance – a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike stage and 26.2 mile run – in less than 7 hours.

Being 5-6 minutes late might have stressed Kristian a bit, but he ran the race as evenly as possible, which was crucial for him. I think it was really impressive

With Blummenfelt looking imperious, having backed a Fastest Ironman Ever in Cozumel in November with victory on his World Championship debut at St Georgewhat did Brownlee do watching the Norwegian?

“It was just a good, solid performance,” Brownlee said. “A lot of people use the word ‘perform’ when they talk about Ironman, and that’s not to belittle any performance, but it’s just about getting it right in 8 hours – which is really hard to To do.

“His swimming obviously wasn’t great – and I’ll try to use him as much as possible [in Sub7]. But then he didn’t seem to panic on the bike even though he was losing a lot of time. He just moved into a band.

“Being 5-6 minutes behind might have stressed him out a bit, but he ran the race about as evenly as he could, which was crucial for him. I think that was really impressive.

“You could see massive preparation had gone into his nutrition in terms of taking a bottle – his own – at every opportunity he had. Just really solid.

What is Alistair Brownlee’s current form?

Brownlee was beset by injuries trying to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics last year and add extra silverware to his wins in London 2012 and Rio 2016.

But despite struggling in the closing stages at Oceanside and feeling unable to start at St George, he is keen to stress that the overall picture is encouraging.

“The bigger point is that it was probably the best six months of training I’ve had in a long time. I had worked hard, put everything together,” he said.

In the immediate term, Alistair is focused on recovery, while thinking about how Ironman could improve his live coverage of events.

“I’ve never watched Ironman so much before. It’s great that Ironman is showing more races, but I think – even as a big fan – it’s a bit frustrating to watch the coverage. From the point of view of fan engagement, it really hit home.

How could Ironman’s coverage be improved?

“Mostly deep data. There are huge gaps between timing chips, and you just don’t know what’s going on.

“The technology exists easily and relatively inexpensively for people to wear in-car sensors where you can have GPS positioning which could then give you time intervals as well as other data – heart rate and power, for example. example.

“But I think the first step is just knowing where someone is at any point in the race. If you just look at the coverage and don’t look at the Ironman splits [on the tracker]you just have no idea what’s going on behind the person in front.

The bigger point is that it was probably the best six months of training I’ve had in a long time. I had worked hard, put it all together

Moving on to Sub7, the tactics and supporting athlete names for the new concept began to be released.

Each athlete can have a team of 10 support athletes to help them swim, cycle and run in the wetsuit of their choice.

The main focus is on how they will be used on the bike to not only time the fastest 112-mile split possible, but also to keep Brownlee as fresh as possible for the marathon.

“It just makes sense to use as many stimulators on the bike as possible,” Brownlee said. “I worked with a few guys, mainly led by Jacob Tipper and Dan Bigham, to get the best possible team for a 180km team time trial.

“A lot of guys they know – Team Ribble – make it the backbone with a few extra extras like Alex Dowsett and Jon Archibald.

“I’ve been doing a few practice sessions with them and planning things out, and we’re really hoping to refine everything we can in the 5-6 days before we get access to the track itself. Riding this track at High speed will be key. Go as fast as possible without blowing my legs.

“We still have to define exactly how I use people. I will probably use seven people on the bike and have spares. It will be swimmers who can cross to run, and potentially someone who can cycle and run, but we haven’t finalized everything.

Alistair’s brother and fellow multiple Olympic medalist, Jonny, could also be involved in the swimming and running elements.

We still have to define exactly how I use people. I will probably use seven people on the bike and have spares. They will be swimmers who can cross to run, and potentially someone who can cycle and run

Brownlee doesn’t look beyond Sub7, but cites a return to Kona, where he finished 21st in his only appearance in 2019and the Collins Cup PTO races, and Opens in Edmonton and Dallas as targets.

“Obviously I’m going to have to qualify for Kona somewhere too,” he said. “But I’m fully focused on the Sub 7 at the moment, and I’ll see how it goes after that.”

INTERVIEW CREDIT: Alistair Brownlee was speaking as part of his work with American Pistachio Growers. Pistachios are a convenient, portable, no-prep protein snack. The Brownlee Brothers incorporate pistachios into their workout regimen to fuel their active lifestyles and to help refuel and recover before and after a workout.

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Wiley C. Thompson