Josh Amberger feels that 2012 is his Hy-Vee year. After taking out the swim primes at Hy-Vee last year and pocketing $20,000 in the process he was swallowed up on the bike and eventually finished 24th and 6min behind eventual winner Greg Bennett. The $151,000 1st prize is a huge motivational factor and Amberger has the ability to win if this is his main focus. He is working on the critical aspects of his racing to put him in a position to win Hy-Vee. Currently Amberger sits in 7th position in the 5150 pro rankings.
After winning Ironman 70.3 Singapore earlier this year Josh Amberger has just posted a 2nd place at the 5150 Triathlon in Klagenfurt, Austria. Amberger finished a close second to Swiss ITU specialist Ruedi Wild. Wild’s run of 31:39 proved to be the difference as Amberger had him in the swim and bike legs.
The only person to match Amberger in the swim was fellow Australian James Seear who finished a solid 6th overall. Seear wasn’t able to stay with Josh on the bike but hung in for a very good result.
Maxine Seear raced in the women’s event and placed 13th overall. She was up against a stacked field of some of the top ITU women.
We spoke with Josh during the week after the Klagenfurt race and wanted to find out what makes this young and obviously talented triathlete tick.
Where did Klagenfurt sit in the plan this year?
“Klagenfurt was important for me. It was awarded more points for Hy-Vee qualification than most other 5150’s so naturally it would be a priority. I raced there last year and loved everything about it; the town, the people, the course and the hospitality. All round, it’s an A+ event. They invited me back so it was my pleasure to return rested and ready for a big hard hit out.”
How did you feel going in to this race?
“I felt good physically and mentally. Physically this year, I’m the the best shape of my career. I’ve really stepped up my training from previous years, and I think this has reflected recently on my consistency throughout the season. The season is by no means over though, so hopefully this trend can continue. I was also sharp mentally because I knew the course from the previous year. It’s a hard course with 2x6km climbs on the bike, and I felt confident to know where to push hard and also relax a little. ”
You have done well at some longer triathlons this year including winning Singapore 70.3. Is the non-drafting Olympic distance your preferred race or will we see you doing more 70.3s?
“I don’t really feel as if I have a preferred format yet. This year I’ve done all sorts of races, from short enduro’s, ITU World Cups, 70.3’s & 5150’s. I like all of them, but there has to be something inspiring about the event for me to be able to enjoy it. I look at things like the course, the town or the reputation of the crowd for inspiration. Ultimately, the race has to be challenging and exciting for me to enjoy it! Ultimately, the triathlete’s that I look up to the most are the ones that can span and win all formats. There’s not many, but I hope to become one in the future.”
Moreover, it seems at this stage the non-drafting Olympic distance event is my strongest format, but I’ve only ever done two 70.3’s so it’s hard to properly assess. I will indeed be doing more longer events, with Muncie 70.3 in the USA in three weeks time, which will hopefully qualify me for Las Vegas World Championships. I’ve also struck a relationship with Ironman Europe based in Klagenfurt, and am thinking of debuting my first Ironman in Klagnefurt for Ironman Austria in 2012.
Whilst most mortal triathletes look at your run and wish they could run as fast we know this is an area that is trailing your swimming and cycling. What work are you doing at the moment to improve your run?
“I was never really taught good running bio-mechanics, despite running at a competitive level for most of my life. I’m not blaming anyone, but I feel this has really restricted my ability to run well in a triathlon. I’ve always been able to run fast fresh, but running off the bike has always been a bit tougher for me. I’ve got a big physiological engine, and have no big issue with run speed. While I’m no Gomez or Brownlee, I can still run. Recently, I’ve come to understand the only way I can experience faster run times is to get my bio-mechanics right, so my focus for running has been on this, rather than specific times and volumes in training.”
With Klagenfurt out of the way and the points in the bank what are your plans from now until Hy-Vee?
“I’ve got Berlin 5150 in 2 weeks (July 1), with Muncie 70.3 one week later (July 7). After this I’m going to Boulder for my first ever block of Altitude training, and likely won’t race again until Hy-Vee on September 2. This is because of my inexperience and insecurities of being at altitude, and also because there are no events around the Olympics in August that fit with my training. I don’t want to be racing much before Des Moines anyway, so this is fine with me. I want to be fresh for this day to give myself the best possible chance to bring home some professional winnings.”
Where are you based right now and why do you base yourself there?
“I’m based in Zurich in Switzerland. I’ve got an awesome homestay here that I met at the Zurich 5150 last year, so I’ve come back to stay with them this year. They give me great hospitality and I’m very lucky because it’s truly one of the most expensive places to be. If I wasn’t here, I’d probably be in the suburbs of some small town in Germany, basically somewhere I could afford to be on my small amount of savings. But here, I’m living in a three story apartment on Lake Zurich, and life is pleasant!”