IRONMAN Australia returns for the first time since 2019, with 10 professional male athletes set to line up for the 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km run.
Brisbane’s Josh Amberger is the top seeded male in the field, and heads into the event having finished third at his last two IRONMAN events, IRONMAN Cairns in 2021 and 2020.
Amberger last raced at IRONMAN Australia in 2016, where he unfortunately didn’t finish, with the 33-year-old claiming victory at IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie in 2013 and 2014.
Tim Van Berkel is looking forward to returning to IRONMAN Australia for the first time since 2012, with Port Macquarie a special place for him.
“I’m pumped to finally head back to Port Macquarie and have a race go ahead, it’s exciting times,” said Van Berkel. “Port Macquarie is where I actually started my IRONMAN career, I did my first IRONMAN there in 2007, it’s exciting to get back. I’ve done five IRONMAN Australia’s now so looking forward to getting back down there. I’ve had two sevenths, a fourth, a third and a second so it would be nice to go to that top step and get a win.
“Last time I raced there was 2012, I missed the years since because I had a sponsor obligation to race in Asia which clashed with the event, I’m excited to finally get back down there,” he said. “I moved there when I was 21, my parents had a sea change and I followed them, I lived there for nine years once I started working with another coach I moved to Lennox. My folks are there, I have a lot of friends there and I always get good support for this race.”
IRONMAN Australia celebrates its 35th anniversary this year and Van Berkel is looking forward to being a part of the event.
“It’s great to get back, I’ve won an Asia-Pacific title, I’ve won a Western Australia title, the only title I haven’t got is an IRONMAN Australia title so I’d like to get that,” said Van Berkel. “I grew up watching IRONMAN Australia, it’s got great history and I’ve followed it along the way. I’ve done five of them now and I’m excited to get back for it, it should be an epic weekend.”
Tim Reed knows what it takes to be successful at IRONMAN Australia, winning the event in 2016, with the 37-year-old also finishing second in 2019.
“I feel pretty good, it’s been a long time coming for IRONMAN Australia, life moves on in different ways and there was a few times there where I thought I was very prepared for this race but circumstances prevented the race from going ahead,” said Reed. “I committed to doing this race regardless of whatever the situation was at home and personally, I just wanted to make sure that I ticked this box because I’d trained up for it so many times over the past couple of years.
“For me it was the race that got me interested in triathlon, when it was in Forster I watched Macca win there and that sparked the interest in the first place, some of my best friends live in Port Macquarie, I raced there as an Age Grouper, won there in the IRONMAN 70.3 and in the IRONMAN, it feels like a hometown race,” he said. “I’ve probably raced there 10 times over different distances. Just knowing the town, knowing the people, it’s a special feeling every time I race there.”
Reed is looking forward to racing in front of the Port Macquarie crowd once again on Sunday.
“In Port Macquarie the locals get behind the race, you’ve got not a boring course, a lot of races people target these days are the fastest courses out there, which is nice for your time but it’s boring,” said Reed. “Port Macquarie is certainly not boring, there’s always something happening, you can’t lose concentration on the bike and then on the run having those smaller loops through town and the amount of support that you get is pretty uplifting when you’re in fairly significant pain throughout the race, you need that support. Being able to have family there is very special.”
Sunday’s race will have a trans-Tasman feel to it, with Kiwi professionals Jack Moody and Ben Phillips making their way to IRONMAN Australia for the first time.
For Moody, IRONMAN Australia offers an opportunity to race against a different group of athletes, having spent the last two years at home.
“It’s just cool to just race some different people. You know enough race results especially over the last few months with plenty of racing happening in Australia, and you know where their skill sets are, Amberger is definitely going to swim the house down and then Tim van Berkel is strong across all three on his day, but particularly could be someone quite dangerous on the bike, and you’ve got Tim Reed in there, so there’s definitely a lot of talent within that start list,” he said. “It will be cool to see where I stack up. I know my strengths and I’ve been working on my weaknesses a lot over the past two years or so, so just getting more and more progress behind those.”
With the top two male pros qualifying for the 2022 Supersapiens IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, Hawai`i, Moody has his sights firmly set on a podium finish.
“Kona is the goal, that’s what I’ve got my eyes set on for sure,” said Moody. “It would be awesome actually, just to get on an international stage after all these couple of years away and show that the Kiwis haven’t been mucking around and that we are the real deal. I think everyone looks at us as a small country with not much racing, and it’s just this domestic scene, so for us to come over and shake things up and be on the podium, that’s definitely what I’m aiming for.”
Racing at the National Storage IRONMAN Australia starts at 7.08am on Sunday, with the first male finisher expected at approximately 3.20pm.
Karl is a Sydney based father of 3, a keen home improver and an age group triathlete who races on the M5 Acadamies triathlon team, coached by 'The Croc' Brad Beven. A good life balance is incredibly important! Karl is the co-founder of Trizone, works in the commercial joinery industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.