Joe Gambles – Better Prepared and Ready to Race the Urban Hotel Ironman Melbourne 2013

Joe Gambles looking to replicate Syracuse

With an Ironman title in his first start at Wisconsin in 2010, Tasmanian Joe Gambles is one professional triathlete who has the potential to go on to many more big iron distance wins. On March 24, Joe lines up for the second time in Ironman Melbourne against 45 other male pros in one of the hottest fields assembled for an Ironman this year. In 2012, Joe swam with the lead pack, rode with the lead pack and ran a 2:54 marathon to finish 8th overall in a time of 8:12:46. This was only thirteen minutes behind the very fast winning time set by Craig Alexander. This year Gambles it better prepared than last year and is backing himself to be one of the main contenders.

Gambles will be hoping to run almost fifteen minutes quicker to vie for the 2013 title. Last year he ran with the leaders for the first thirty minutes. They were setting a cracking pace that was almost too quick. In the end only Crowie and Cameron Brown could sustain it. This year however there will be more than a couple of ‘less’ experienced ironmen who will have learnt a lot from last year and could surprise this weekend. Joe Gambles is one of them.

We caught up with Joe as he puts the final touches on his preparation for Melbourne.

Trizone: You have been racing triathlons competitively since you were 16. How did you get started?

Joe Gambles: I started out as a runner and was involved in cross country and little athletics. I grew up around triathlon as my Dad competed and I would go along to watch. I did my first triathlon when I was thirteen and did well so I quickly made the decision to focus on triathlon. I competed in local Tasmanian races and contested the National All Schools triathlon Championships interstate with limited success!

Trizone: Who were your early influencers?

Joe Gambles heads out on to the run in Melbourne in 2012

Joe Gambles heads out on to the run in Melbourne in 2012

Joe Gambles: I grew up watching guys like Greg Welch, Brad Bevan and Miles Stewart who were amazing athletes but with a champion like Craig Walton coming from Tassie I would have to name him as my favourite triathlete. I admired the way he raced from the front and made it a tough race for everyone!

TZ: What was growing up in Tasmania like?

JG: Tasmania is a fantastic place for anyone who loves sport. This is proven by the huge amount of talent that has come from such a small place eg, Richie Porte, Matt Goss. Because of its size kids have access to some of the best coaching and advice from some very experienced and famous athletes.

TZ: After finishing high school what was your focus?

JG: I went to university and completed my degree in Business. Since I graduated, however, I have been a full time athlete. I plan on coaching/managing athletes when I retire from professional racing so the skills acquired alongside my personal training qualifications and experience as an athlete will come in handy.

TZ: What are your most memorable triathlon moments?

JG: Winning Vineman 70.3 in front of my Mum and sister in 2009. Winning Ironman Wisconsin, ‘home’ of one of my major sponsors, Trek, in 2010.

TZ: You base yourself in Boulder when in the USA. Tell us what it is like living in Boulder.

One of the leaders on the bike at last year's Melbourne Ironman

One of the leaders on the bike at last year’s Melbourne Ironman

JG: Boulder is athlete’s heaven. The riding and running is second to none and there are plenty of coffee shops to go around! I really like the fact that you can still have a life outside of triathlon there. The access to fantastic music and culture and great eating make it a fantastic place to live a balanced lifestyle.

TZ: Why the push into Ironman when you are potentially one of the best 70.3 triathletes in the world? With 70.3 you can race more and potentially earn more prize money and sponsorship dollars.

JG: One word….KONA! It’s the ultimate race for triathletes and everyone wants to win it. I like that I can do a hometown race early in the year in Melbourne then concentrate on 70.3’s for the majority of the season and then turn my attention back to Ironman at the end of the season.

TZ: Last year you were confident heading into Ironman Melbourne and whilst you would have wanted to go better than your 8th placing, it was an outstanding effort. What have you done differently this year with your preparation for Melbourne?

Joe Gambles celebrates the win at Boulder last year

Joe Gambles celebrates the win at Boulder last year

JG: I wasn’t ready to race such a high calibre field last year. I didn’t give myself enough time and had too many distractions leading in. This year, I gave myself 4 months to prepare for it. I have worked on my strength in the gym and addressed a few niggles that were showing up over the Ironman distance. I have been training with a lot of top end cyclists and have clocked up a lot more kilometers.

TZ: What was the experience of racing in Melbourne like last year?

JG: Invaluable. I love coming back to races as you learn so much from previous years. It was an amazing experience running next to Crowie and Brownie even if it was for just the first 30 minutes! Melbourne is a great place to hold such an important Ironman race. The Australian public love their sport and are very knowledgeable which creates a fantastic atmosphere.

TZ: Do you have a race strategy for Melbourne that you can tell us a bit about?

JG: Swim with the front group, stay out of trouble on the bike and be ready and alert to respond to any moves by the major contenders. Control the first half of the run and then hopefully all the training I have done will leave me enough in the tank to mix it up at the front!

TZ: Who do you see as the main title contenders at IM Melb this year? (apart from yourself and Crowie)

8th overall in 2012 in a time of 8:12:46

8th overall in 2012 in a time of 8:12:46

JG: Marino Vanhoenacker, Jordan Rapp, David Dellow, Eneko llanos and Brownie (Cameron Brown) if he has recovered well from NZ!

TZ: You have seven 70.3/half iron distance triathlons this year and two Ironman. This is a big load if Kona is your goal race. How will you manage this workload?

JG: Having a solid training base is the key to be able to race this much. I have 4 months of uninterrupted training behind me now so I am not chasing fitness throughout the season. I am now maintaining, monitoring and tweaking.

TZ: What are your long term plans?

JG: Keep racing, keep being patient and win Vegas and Kona!


We asked Joe what his favourite sessions are in each of the three disciplines. He was good enough to share these with us and you.

800 (200 hard/200 easy) 15-20 seconds rest
600 (150 hard/150 easy) 15-20 seconds rest
400 (100 hard/100 easy) 15-20 seconds rest
200 (50 hard/50 easy) 15-20 seconds rest
x2 (first set freestyle, second set paddles/pull)

5 x 8min seated effort on a climb 3-6%. Done in aerobars and cadence 50-60 RPM

75min build run. Increasing pace every 15min down to half ironman pace (eg. 4.30 – 3.30 per km)


We wish Joe all the best this weekend and look forward to seeing him on the podium on Sunday afternoon.


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Joe Gambles website

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Career Highlights

  • Ironman 70.3 Boulder Champion & Course Record Holder (2011)
  • Ironman Wisconsin Champion (2010)
  • 2x Lake Stevens 70.3 Champion (2009 & 2010)
  • Vineman 70.3 Champion (2009)
  • Port Macquarie Champion (2011)
  • Silver Medal ITU Long Distance World Championships (2011)
  • 4th World Championships 70.3 (2010)

2012 Results

  • 1st Ironman 70.3 Syracuse
  • 2nd Vineman 70.3
  • 3rd Revolution 3 Quassy
  • 8th Ironman Melbourne

2011 Results

  • 1st  Ironman 70.3 Boulder – Course Record
  • 1st  Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie
  • 3rd  Revolution 3 Quassy
  • Silver ITU Long Distance World Championships (2011)
  • 3rd  Vineman 70.3
  • 5th Ironman 70.3 World Championships
  • 5th  Revolution 3 Knoxville
  • 5th  Ironman 5150 Boulder Peak

2010 Results

  • 1st  Ironman Wisconsin
  • 1st  Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens
  • 2nd  Wildflower Triathlon
  • 4th  Ironman 70.3 World Championships
  • 4th  Timberman 70.3

2009 Results

  • 1st  Ironman 70.3 Vineman
  • 1st  Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens
  • 1st  Amica National Championships
  • 2nd  Revolution 3 Triathlon
  • 3rd  Ironman 70.3 Boise
  • 4th  Ironman 70.3 Geelong
  • 5th  Ironman 70.3 World Championships
  • 5th  Ironman 70.3 Oceanside
  • 5th  Wildflower Triathlon



Karl Hayes

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.