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Tim Van Berkel: The Target Is Firmly On His Back and He’s Ready

With Ironman Cairns just two weeks away, Tim Van Berkel has his eyes set on defending his title. We chatted to Tim about all things Cairns.

“It’s a beautiful course, but it’s very tough. The road surface isn’t that fast, there are so many rolling hills and it can be really hot, really windy or really rainy,” said Tim Van Berkel. “The event has always been great, and now with the prestige of being the Ironman Asia Pacific Championships, it’s even more exciting.”

Van Berkel ran to victory in a new course record of 8:1502 in 2016, and he’s eager to repeat. “It’s one of my goal races of the year,” Van Berkel told Trizone, “I’m the defending champion so I’ve got a target on my back. There’s a lot of pressure on me this year as I haven’t punched my ticket to Kona yet.”

With previous races in Vietnam plus intense altitude training in Colorado, it’s been a heavy block of training leading up to the race, but he’s feeling fresh. “I’m definitely going to be more fresh than last year as I haven’t done a full Ironman race yet this year. I’m also hungrier this year; defending my title is really important to me,” said Van Berkel.

Weather could cause rough seas

The weather in Cairns is known to be volatile; it can either be excruciatingly hot and devastatingly humid, or shrouded in heavy rain and blowing a gale.

The weather causes slippery bike conditions, but it can also mean rough weather on the swim. Last year Van Berkel noticed “the first ten guys out of the water were all Australians, which says a lot.”

Slippery roads meet a scenic course in 2016 – will it happen again?

It was the bike leg that became really challenging for the riders in 2016. Last year Van Berkel said; “conditions on the day were challenging to say the least and the wet and windy weather definitely contributed to some carnage on the bike leg – both Luke McKenzie and Jordan Rapp punctured and Matt Hansen crashed early on. Todd Skipworth went down just in front of me and I nearly lost it twice myself.” This year the athlete is hoping for better weather, although he loves the course.

“The bike course is definitely one of the most scenic in the world. It goes up through the Captain Cook Highway towards Port Douglas, and there’s ocean views on one side and tropical rainforest on the other,” said Van Berkel. Despite the views he’s quick to mention the hills “there are definitely enough hills to make it interesting though!”

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Run leg sealed the deal in 2016, can he repeat it?

While Ven Berkel wasn’t thrilled with his bike, he had an incredible run in 2016, as is eager to repeat the strong that performance again. “I ran well in 2016, and I plan to again. I don’t want to be giving anyone any time,” Van Berkel told Trizone.

Van Berkel has his eyes on the title, but is aware of his opponents. “The swim is going to be fast because Amberger and Fettell are in the field,” said Van Berkel. “I’ll also be on the lookout for Dave Dellow who came second last year, and Joe Gambles. But it’s the Kiwis Cam Brown and Braydon Currie I’ve got to watch out for too!” adds Van Berkel smiling.

Trizone wishes all the athletes success at the Asia Pacific Championships in Cairns on June 11th.