By Anna Cleaver
Clark Ellice or â€˜Clarky’ as we know him, is a talented and passionate New Zealand athlete, who thrives on racing in front of a home crowd. This weekend Clark returns to Auckland for the WCS. His last race in Auckland proved to be an incredibly successful one, with a 3rd at the Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championships. We are excited to see what this talented Taranaki boy can produce this weekend.
It is only April, but Clark has already racked up some great results. Stand out performances include 6th at the recent Mooloolaba ITU World Cup and a very impressive 3rd at the Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championships Auckland.
Anna Cleaver: Clark, congratulations on a very impressive opening to your 2013 year. You have shown your diversity as an athlete by adding a 70.3 success to your repertoire. Will we see you on the 70.3 circuit more this year, or will the focus be the ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) and 5150 events?
Clark Ellice: I will mainly focus on ITU racing, however I do plan on doing another 70.3 in the states for some additional prize money before heading to Europe. I also plan to do another 5150 race and the Hy-Vee Des Moines 5150 Championship in September
Anna: There are several New Zealand men on the start list for this weekend’s WTS opener. To help your non-drafting fans understand how ITU racing works, do you race as an individual or do team tactics play a big role with your fellow kiwis?
Clark: Some teams do have planned tactics to work together. I will work by myself. I will try for a strong swim so I make it out with the lead group and hope those leading guys work hard with me to push the pace on the bike.
Anna: You have established yourself as one of the leading males in non-drafting Olympic distance racing (5150’s). Both the drafting and non-drafting races are constantly changing. Recently WTC announced it is reducing the prize money on offer at the prestigious Hy-Vee 5150 Championships, yet ITU announced an increase in prize money on offer for the WTS racing. How did you respond to these changes and does this impact your plans for the year?
Clark: The prize money drop for 5150 isn’t great news but it is still a good prize purse and the ITU increase is a welcome one! It’s not changed my plans for this year, I still plan to race the same amount of ITU events and Des Moines
Anna: The goal of Olympics 2016 is a firm one for you. Given your ability to race across various distances and drafting/ non-drafting formats, is it tempting to deviate from this goal given the many races on offer? Or do the various races compliment your ultimate goal?
Clark: 2016 is my focus right now so I will do the races I need to ensure I get there. The Commonwealth Games next year are also a goal. There are other races such as 5150 ad 70.3 which I have potential to get prize money in so yes it is tempting, but you have to be true to your dream, mine is Rio. There are opportunities to mix up my racing to work with my strengths, IRONMAN 70.3 Auckland for example was perfect timing, I was biking the miles then so it fit into my training well
Anna: Auckland fans got behind the racing on this course last year and were treated to a stellar performance by Kris Gemmel, where he broke away on the bike and finished with a strong run for an emotional win. Can we expect a similar break-away in this years race, given the nature of the bike course?
Clark: I think this course definitely has potential for a breakaway if not more than one. With only 30 on the start line I think we can expect some splits quite early on. It’s a course that suits strong athletes
Anna: You ride a very unique bike. The Neil Pryde bikes aren’t familiar to many. I believe Neil Pryde is a New Zealander himself. It seems like a perfect brand fit for you. Tell us about the particular bike you will be riding this weekend.
Clark: Ian Scott from Profile Design got me in contact with them. He knows me and with my body build the bike fits me really well. I’m really happy with the set up
Anna: Everyone wants to know. What does it take to beat a guy like Gomez?
Clark: Surname Brownlee!
New Zealanders love to get behind their athletes. All the best for this weekend and enjoy the electric atmosphere that your local kiwi fans are likely to provide!
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Anna Cleaver is a former New Zealand champion swimmer and now professional triathlete who has just stepped up to Long Course.