For the majority of the year Sam Appleton chases his dream, training in the US and racing IRONMAN events across the world but any chance he gets he loves to get home to Australia to catch up with family and friends and race high profile Australian events such as IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney (25 November).
Nestled at the base of the stunning Blue Mountains, IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney is Appleton’s hometown event and he is keen to put his local advantage to good use when he takes on IRONMAN New Zealand Champion and record holder at IRONMAN Western Australia Terenzo Bozzone, former IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion Tim Reed and IRONMAN Champion Tim van Berkel.
“I grew up in the Blue Mountains, about 20 minutes from Penrith. But I spent a lot of my time cutting my teeth with the lads out of Penrith Panthers Tri Club, so it definitely feels like a home race to me. I was always active as a young kid, including swimming and school cross country at state and national levels throughout my schooling years. I think triathlon was almost a natural progression from there. I think I did my first triathlon when I was around 13 or 14 and from then I was hooked.”
“I love racing in Australia. I still try and do a few races in Australia every year even though I spend a lot of time in the USA. Australia is home and it is my favourite country to race in. I think it is important as well to maintain my presence in Australia and keep racing at home as much as possible for my sponsors and fans.”
“It is really cool to be able to race in front of friends and family in Western Sydney. Last year I raced and had a tonne of support out there that was amazing. I have done plenty of training out on the roads the race takes place on, so it is nice to have that little advantage over the competition too.”
“I’ve raced at the Regatta Centre more times than I have hot dinners. I know the course well as growing up in the Blue Mountains, I used to train on these roads on a daily basis. It is a flat course but can be quite tough. The roads can be rough at points and it can also get quite hot out there on the road with no real shade to speak of on the exposed paths of the regatta,” he said
One of the most consistent performers on the global IRONMAN 70.3 circuit, Appleton kicked off the year with a win at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong and he can think of nothing better than bookending his year by picking up the 70.3 title in Western Sydney, where his triathlon career started.
“The start list looks great, with a lot of Aussie talent assembled and with Terenzo Bozzone returning to racing. I’ve raced everyone on the start list quite a few times, and particularly raced the likes of Tim Reedy, Tim van Berkel and Craig Alexander a lot. It is kind of fun because we are all good friends off the course, but love nothing more than to beat each other out there. It is good for bragging rights.”
“It has been a good year so far. I have managed three 70.3 wins and a sixth place at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Champs in South Africa. Like every year it has had its ups and downs, but generally, it has been trending more to the up. The form at the moment is surprisingly good as well. I just came off a win at Los Cabos 70.3 in early November, so that is a nice confidence booster that everything is on track for Western Sydney.”
“I am doing Western Sydney and then finishing off the racing calendar at IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo two weeks later. I want to head out there and check out the race venue as its the 70.3 World Champs location for 2020. Obviously getting a win at either or both of these would be amazing and definitely something I am shooting for, but I am also aware that the fields assembled in Oceania are really strong these days.
“I’ve been racing since Feb this year and pretty much done a 70.3 most months since then, and it can be challenging coming up against the domestic guys who have been laying down some serious training over the Aussie winter. These guys are raring to go, so I will have to be on my A game in order to position myself towards the front.”
“After racing Taupo 70.3 in December I am going to have some time off and spend Christmas with my family in Australia. I am very much looking forward to that. I am not sure what the start of 2019 hold for me yet. I would love to come back to defend my title in Geelong as I love the race there and have won it twice. At the moment though I am unsure where I kick my season off,” he said.
As an IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship qualifying race, IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney offers 35 qualifying slots to the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, to be held in Nice, France.