Ironman Triathlete Pro Kate Bevilaqua interview

Australian pro triathlete Kate Bevilaqua is on course for another appearance at the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona in the Fall of 2012.

It requires a lot of hard work and dedication to earn a Kona spot and Kate has all the tools to do it.

Ironstruck is pleased to have had the opportunity to interview Kate Bevilaqua and learn more about her 2012 season and her goals for the remainder of the year.

Pro triathlete Kate Bevilaqua

Kate is off to a great start in 2012–Image courtesy of Tessa Capistrano photography

–You’re having an excellent year to this point with podium finishes in Ironman 70.3 Busselton, Ironman 70.3 Singapore, and Ironman 70.3 New Zealand (that replaced the full Ironman because of poor weather conditions). Are you pleased with the way things are progressing up to this point?

Yes, definitely, it has been a great start to the year! I have had some fantastic results but more importantly I feel as if my strength and fitness is in a great place. Every year I hope to be stronger and faster than the previous year and there are good signs that my running and swimming are heading in the right direction. Now it is time to take the next step on the bike!

–It must have been a great morale boost to hold off Joanna Lawn in Ironman 70.3 New Zealand and take second place by three seconds. Did that race set the tone for your season as very soon after New Zealand you landed another podium spot In Ironman 70.3 Singapore with a third place finish?

I love racing in New Zealand and go back every year. And now that I am dating a “Kiwi” it is a great chance to visits Guy’s family. The race this year was a challenge for everyone, having trained for an Ironman and ending up racing a 70.3. It was a great surprise to finish second. Every time Jo Lawn and I race you can be guaranteed it is going to be a great battle. She brings out the best in me! When I won Port of Tauranga in 2008 it was a sprint finish between is, less than 15 seconds! That same year she beat me at Ironman New Zealand after we ran side by side together in the lead for more 15km. Then this year, 3 seconds!

Those early season races definitely gave me confidence in my ability and that I should just “go for it” because I have nothing to lose!

–The Ironman is a sport of ups and downs. You had a great race in Ironman 70.3 Busselton but missed winning because of a great run by Felicity Sheedy-Ryan. Was there a point where you thought you had the race won?

Yeah…I still kick myself about that one! 45 seconds was all I needed…I had a mechanical on the bike that could have cost me time, slow transitions. I would have loved to have won my home race. But I was close…I know I can do it! Next year! Felicity had a great day and deserved the victory after an incredible run. There was never a point where I thought I had it won. When I was in the lead with 10km I was thinking “I could win it” but am confident of victory until I cross that finish line. Felicity passed me with 3.4km to go and although I tried, just couldn’t hold the same pace she was!

–As a pro out on the course are you given indications by race officials on the status of your placing among other pro women or in your case in Busselton, how big your lead is or basically do you rely on support crew or spectators or don’t worry about it at all and just run your best race and let the chips fall where they may?

I am definitely aware of what is going on around me, who is where. In front and behind. In Busselton I knew I needed to be a certain amount of time in front of Felicity off the bike if I wanted to win, knowing what she ran last year. I remember getting onto run and thinking it may not be quite enough. But I was going to go for it…you never know! Support crew and spectators were giving me splits to the lead throughout the first 10km, then when I was in front they were giving me splits to 2nd which was a fast charging Felicity. I really appreciate people telling me especially on a course where you can’t see other athletes and have no idea what is going on!

–Tell us a bit about what it was like making the climb to the Hawi turn-around and the downhill on the way back. Reports were coming in during the race that even Lance Armstrong was getting pushed right over to the shoulder of the road.

Honu 70.3…unfortunately not the best day for me. I was on a high from the great start to the season and wanted to keep the momentum going. I was in good shape, but just lacked the confidence riding in those conditions. I rode Hawi earlier on in the week with my race wheels on and couldn’t believe how strong the winds were. I was scared! I didn’t think I was going to be able to stay on my bike! I changed my front wheel back to my training wheel, which helped a bit. But to be honest, the damage was done…in my head! My tiny 48cm frame was being crucified from right to left, all over the road. I was proud of myself for hanging tough and finishing with a great run but it made me realise it is time to toughen up. I will be ready for anything next time I get to Kona…hopefully in October!

–Do you think the Kona Ranking Points system is resulting in far too many injuries and even training accidents as it puts extra stress on those pros who have their sights set on Kona? Mary Beth Ellis is a great example. Last year I watched her cross the finish line in Ironman Canada for her third Ironman win in about a six-week time period. I remember thinking at the time that it would be very tough for her in Kona and of course it was.

Yes! I can understand the concept behind the system but still think it needs some adjustments so we don’t burn out as Professional athletes. It favors those who finish in the top 10 in Kona every year. They get a lot of points, then only have to race one Ironman to validate then focus on Kona again. All fresh and ready to go! If you are a new Pro, or didn’t race Kona the previous year, or just had a bad day, you really must race multiple Ironmans. Some probably too close to Kona, have less time to prepare, are tired when you get there, then just make it through on race day. Too many times now I hear athletes mentioning races they are doing “because I need the points” not because they love the race or the destination! Races are also suffering. Ironman Australia was a huge deal and our Australian championships. With a 1000points ranking only 3 Pro Women raced this year!!

–Do think Mary Beth has a shot at a podium finish in Kona 2012? You can bet that she will be going in far more rested. She is very lightly raced this year yet is holding down 16th spot as of June 14th.

Absolutely! She was on fire last year, but the demands of getting enough points for Kona definitely resulted in a very different day in Kona for a lot of athletes. She has been smart this year, accumulated points early and will be ready for the “big dance” in October!

–As successful a year as you are having you are currently sitting in 24th spot in Kona Ranking. It seems the competition just keeps getting tougher and tougher, but still just one big race and you could secure yourself a spot. After all, you out-sprinted Jo Lawn in New Zealand and she is sitting in 5th spot in Kona Ranking so obviously you have the ability to do very well against the top female pros. Do you have a race in your schedule this year that you consider a key race as far as Ranking Points and making it to Kona?

I know…it is a little frustrating to have raced so well so far this year…but I am on the border for the first selections in July and there are still so many big points racing coming up especially in Europe. So yep…another Ironman. I am racing Ironman Coeur D’Alene next weekend which has 2000 points so a good day and a top 5 finish should give me the much needed points to push me up the rankings. Then I will just have to wait and see!!

–What are your thoughts on Chrissie Wellington and her accomplishments since she won her very first attempt at Ironman Hawaii? Also were you surprised at Chrissie taking time off from Ironman competition and do you think she will come back?

Chrissie is not only an amazing athlete but an incredible women and role model. It is fantastic to see her doing so much away from Triathlon in support of a healthy lifestyle and in particular women in sport. Good on her for taking the year off from Ironman competition. Sure…it will change things for a lot of women racing in Kona this year, but I bet she will be back!

Finally, have you and your partner Guy Crawford booked your accommodations in Kona for the 2012 World Championships and do you plan on going no matter what?

Tough one!! We have been looking lately and trying to find something, no luck as yet! But hopefully we will in the next week or two and will just have to go ahead and book it. Pay a deposit and fingers crossed one or both of us will be racing there. Not sure if we will go no matter what? It is an expensive trip to make and we may be better off racing else where at the same time if we don’t qualify for Kona. But lets just say…that isn’t really an option at the moment 🙂

Our thanks to Kate Bevilaqua for doing this interview for Ironstruck.com. Be sure to follow her quest for Kona 2012. The journey continues for Kate Sunday June 24, 2012 when she tackles Ironman Coeur d’Alene and top pros Heather Wurtelle, Meredith Kessler, Sara Gross, and Christie Sym.

Best of luck Kate!

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