Dual Rugby International and Gold Coast Titans Rugby League star Mat Rogers has embarked on a new sporting journey after being bitten by the triathlon bug.
After playing 45 times for the Wallabies, 40 games for NSW Waratahs, 8 times for Queensland (League), 11 tests for the Kangaroos and 200 games for the Cronulla Sharks and the Gold Coast Titans the father of four and husband to model and TV presenter Chloe Maxwell has found a new sporting love.
Rogers was training for this July’s Gold Coast Marathon when a training partner convinced him to do the Luke Harrop Memorial Triathlon. “I am a confident swimmer and own a bike so thought why not. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to do another and headed down to Byron Bay to do a longer triathlon. Once done a mate, Clint Kimmins, suggested I come up to Cairns and do the 70.3.”
Rogers has now signed up to do Ironman Melbourne in March 2013 and had planned to do the Port Macquarie 70.3 in October this year. He is now looking at Yeppoon. Roger’s motivation for Port is to go under 5 hours. The bug has bitten!
One aspect of triathlons that puzzles Rogers is the pleasure pain aspect. “I can’t believe how something that hurts so much gives me, and others, a huge amount of satisfaction.”
Rogers went in to the Cairns 70.3 under prepared but wanted to test himself out. “I knew I wasn’t totally ready but it worked out well timing wise and I was keen to see how I would go. The atmosphere was unreal and I took a mate up with me who was just there to watch. He is now hooked and wants to do one.”
On the race, I asked how the day went and what Rogers will take away from Cairns. “I knew it would be hard and it was. I really struggled to run off the bike. I didn’t take in enough nutrition and paid for it for the first six kms of the run. Once I took in enough nutrition and with plenty of encouragement from the other competitors I eventually got my run legs back and kicked on.”
“My focus is more on marathon at the moment which is in July. Once this is done then I’ll start to have a more triathlon focus and learn to run off the bike”.
I asked Mat how his fitness stacks up now compared to when he was playing league professionally. “I am fitter now in terms of running etc. but I couldn’t take the hits you have to take in rugby league anymore because I have lost too much bulk. I am very competitive and will tackle triathlons in the same way I tackled league.”
“When playing league I had to be fit because 12 other guys were relying on me to perform. In saying that on the footy field there are places to hide if needed. You can push someone up in front of you. With triathlons you can stop if you need to because you are only racing yourself most of the time. But in saying that I still want to win.”
One thing that we all know in the sport but is new to Mat was the culture of the sport. “I am impressed with the good nature in the sport. Everyone there racing or supporting understands what you are going through and are encouraging each other all the time. I picked up my bike at 6:30pm on Sunday evening and there were people just starting their runs in the Ironman. It was amazing to think that they still had a marathon to do.”
Rogers doesn’t have a triathlon coach but rings mates Clint Kimmins and Brett Carter (who was the fastest age grouper in Ironman Cairns) for advice. These guys grew up with Luke McKenzie and lean on him a bit for advice no doubt.
We look forward to following Mat over the next year.
For the record Mat finished the Cairns 70.3 in 5:21:21 (Swim 35:48, Bike 2:35:14, Run 2:01:26)