The defending champions of SunSmart Ironman Western Australia, Courtney Ogden and Kate Bevilaqua, are preparing to battle out this years race in Busselton in only a few short weeks to regain their titles. They certainly have some tough competition with this years field the strongest ever seen in Busselton.
Will the added pressure of being last year’s winners bring them unstuck or will the home ground advantage of these two locals ensure another victory for them?
Courtney Ogden was satisfied with his win in 2010 and said it was nice to give something back to his local supporters, his Perth based sponsors, the Western Australian triathlon community and most importantly his family and close friends.
Ogden battled four months of injury earlier this year but fought through at the Ford Ironman World Championship Kona in October with a solid result finishing in the top 20.
â€œMy 16th place finish in Kona was the highlight of the year, I certainly wasn’t as fit as I could have been, but I was as tough mentally as I have ever been on race day, and that was extremely satisfyingâ€ Ogden said.
When asked how his preparation has been for the race has been Courtney explained.
â€œAfter basically not racing since Port Macquarie in May this year, competing in Kona was more of an advantage than a disadvantage for me. I finished the run in Kona feeling fantastic and it has allowed me to transition into my Busselton training with a degree of momentum. If I had been going at it hard all year, it may have been a different story.â€
â€œI think, overall, I will have better fitness than I did for Kona, despite an ongoing knee issue and a week off running due to calf lock-up. I am not expecting to be any worse on race day than I was last yearâ€
The depth of this year’s field has certainly struck a note with Ogden and he is a little philosophical about defending last year’s title.
â€œI definitely don’t feel any added pressure just because I am defending champion. There are others in the field that have far better credentials than me and realistically most will not expect me to defend the title. What it does do is provide me with the motivation to train hard, race to the best of my ability and represent my supporters in the best possible way. It will be the first time I will be wearing the number one bib and I will enjoy it I can assure youâ€
Kate Bevilaqua described last years win as the highlight of her triathlon career and has recently been nominated for Western Australian’s ANZ Sports Star of the Year which she sees as a reflection of the increasing popularity and interest in the sport.
â€œI had dreamed of winning an Ironman ever since racing professional and deep down SunSmart Ironman Western Australia was the one in my heart I most wanted the win in! It is my home town and home raceâ€
â€œI am excited about this race! It has been a great year for me, and my training and intensity has gradually been increasing throughout the year. I am definitely fitter and stronger than last year so I am looking forward to see what I can achieveâ€
â€œUnfortunately my race in Kona this year was not the day I was hoping for and I don’t see it having any impact on my race in Busselton. It was my first ever DNF in Kona and I was extremely disappointed having to withdraw at the 150km mark of the bike after four hours of not being able to keep anything downâ€
â€œI feel pressure returning as defending champion but I am not complaining because it is a great position to be in. I am the one this year with a target on my back, I am used to being the hunter rather than the hunted so this years race dynamics may be different for me but come race day it becomes automatic, everyone on the start line has a chance of winning and whoever can put it together the best on the day will be the one to cross the line firstâ€
Both Courtney and Kate are looking forward to being surround by friends and family throughout the course.
Kate said â€œA two hour drive and they can watch one of the most amazing Ironman events in the world. Both were happy to share a bit of advice for the first timers lining up with Ogden stating.
â€œTrain hard. Pain is your friend. The course, although flat, is somewhat enchanting with the jetty, the ocean and the forest on the cycle leg. I have raced quite a few events on the circuit, and, apart from Kona, Busselton is my favourite event. Not only is the race first class, the area of Southwest Western Australia is a magnificent part of the worldâ€
Kate’s advice was all about enjoying the day and savouring the moment as your journey towards completing your very first Ironman.
â€œAlways remember to smile and enjoy yourself! No matter if you finish in nine hours or 16hrs 59 mins you have trained hard and long for this one day, you can be guaranteed there will be many ups and downs but believe how strong you actually are! I get goose bumps just thinking about it and no one can ever take that away from you!