Former course record holder and Ironman Western Australia race pioneer Luke McKenzie and defending champion and current record holder Terenzo Bozzone are on a collision course and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Luke dominated Ironman Western Australia in 2015 lowering the course record to 7:55 only to see his best mate Terenzo come along the following year and shred that time by four minutes to record a remarkable 7:51:25. This year’s Ironman Western Australia is set for a Battle Royale between McKenzie and Bozzone, with Ironman’s fastest bike rider Cameron Wurf hoping to throw a cat among the pigeons.
“I am excited about this year’s event. Terenzo and I go back a long way, since our junior days in the late 1990s. So it is pretty cool that we both are having a crack at each other,” Luke said. “Terenzo ensured my course record didn’t last long at all, lowering it with a great performance in 2016 that was wonderful to see. As much as I would have loved that my record stood for a bit longer, I love seeing great performances and he really put in a good one that day.”
“It is cool that he is coming back to try and win it for the third time and I am coming back for the first time since I set the record. There is the potential for a monster battle there between some really old mates. Having Cam Wurf also racing is very exciting. He always races from the front and is the best bike rider in the sport right now, so I think my 4:08 bike course record is definitely under fire,” Luke said.
Luke said that he delighted to have the opportunity to race against his friend Terenzo, who is on the comeback trail following a horrific, life-threatening accident in New Zealand in July.
“Terenzo’s accident really sent some shock waves through our community and being a very close mate of his and his wife Kelly it was very hard times, especially knowing that he has two kids, like myself. I know how something like that would rattle a family considering he was on top of the world one minute and fighting for his life the next. It could be any of us and I am really happy to see him racing because it could have been a career-ending incident for him. He has proven otherwise and it is great to see him back.”
Both Luke and the City of Busselton are celebrating their 15th Ironman Anniversary and they are both up for major celebrations come race day.
“Ironman Western Australia in 2004 against Jason Shortis was my first ever Ironman, so this is my fifteenth Ironman anniversary as well. I did the first and I am doing the 15th so that is a pretty cool spin on things to have been there for the very first Busselton and that it is still going in its 15th year. It is pretty cool to be coming back for that.”
“in 2004, I was at a stage in my career where I was 24 years old and I felt like I was finally ready to have a crack at this Ironman thing after doing the shorter stuff. The rest is history for me. I stepped up to Ironman that day in Busso and came third behind Shorto and Pete Jacobs and thought that this is my place, this where I want to make my career. Fifteen years later I am still doing it. It is a testament to the event that I am still going and it is still going. That is a good thing.”
In reminiscent of the glory days of 2015, Luke is arriving in Busselton in top form and he has a sense of déjà vu in 2018.
“Back in 2015 I had my first DNF in Hawaii and I turned that around and was able to go to Busso and win the race and break the course record. I think having a disappointing Kona that year was a bit of motivation. I knew the season wasn’t over and I had done well in Busso before so I had to put all my eggs into that basket and finish the year on a high.”
“It is similar to this year. I feel like I haven’t had a great race since Ironman Australia back in May. I was on for a good race in Hawaii but I got an unexpected drafting penalty, for not drafting, which ruined my race. The good thing about Ironman WA is that it comes off the back of Kona, so if everything doesn’t go well in Hawaii you still have some redemption ahead of you. I think I have done the same thing post-Kona this year. I have been motivated to put in some really good work to try and get my name back on the IRONMAN Western Australia trophy again.”
“I came home from Kona, recovered and did the Noosa Triathlon. It was good to do a local home race and get a hit out and it set me up for a great race in Taiwan. It shows that the form for the longer stuff is in good shape. If I can bring some of the speed from Noosa and Taiwan and carry that into IRONMAN Western Australia, I think it will produce a good time in Busselton,” Luke said.