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Tim Don is still loving it...
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Friday 26th September 2014


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In many peoples eyes, the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant provided the strongest field ever assembled at a middle distance event, in both the male and female races. Great Britain's Tim Don was able to secure another World Championship medal by finishing third in that race to four times and current ITU World Champion Javier Gomez, and second placed 2008 Olympic Champion Jan Frodeno.

With his debut over the full Ironman distance coming up this weekend in Mallorca, I asked Tim bout his race in Mont Tremblant, the tactics involved, his move to the U.S. and how after more than 20 years of racing he is still as motivated as ever, " I bloody love it, it's not a job!", and find that he is still seeking the truly perfect race.

With Kona coming up, it seemed appropriate to ask for his tips for success on the big island too...


Tim, congratulations on a superb third place finish at the Ironman 70.3 World Champs in Mont Tremblant. I've just watched the TV coverage here in the UK, and it's fair to say you looked delighted with your result. Can you sum up your day?

Third in the world I guess at Ironman 70.3! It was the fastest 70.3 I have done, that is for sure. The pace was on from the start. It is always to execute your best performance on the day that counts, which is World Champs day for me. After getting a puncture last year at my first attempt at 70.3 Worlds, it was nice to get on the podium this year.

Being in that leading group on the bike approaching T2 looks as though it was essential in terms of medal chances this year, with such running strength of Gomez, Frodeno and others part of it. You exited the swim about 30 seconds back on Javier - how did the opening miles of the bike unfold, and at what point were you part of that leading group?

My swim was pretty average but I knew I was riding well, and I knew T1 (an 800m run to our bikes), and the first 5-10km of the bike were going to be full gas, ITU style, so I went hard till I caught the lead group simply to get myself in the race as early as possible and I settled in about sixth wheel by about 8km in. I think lots of guys got out of the swim and thought "yeah I am in the lead group, no worries", but were surprised how fast it was. They messed up big time by not committing to the chase from the start and they literally saw the race ride away form them in the first few km's, as with that quality of athlete at the front you've got no chance to get back into the game in 70.3, in my opinion.

How tactical - if at all - was the bike leg? It looked as though Frodeno and Ben Collins (in particular), were pushing the pace strongly throughout to ensure that nobody from behind could catch?

The bike was full on - we averaged over 44km/h for the first rolling 33km into a head wind; the boys at the front were riding hard, no real tactics. I think some of the guys were trying to break away off the front but the speed was so fast it was very hard and that kept us moving well. I was riding hard but knew I was in the right place and I for one did not want to try any hero tactics. This year in all the big races it has come down to running well off a hard bike, not trying to get a gap on the bike and hanging on.

Do you ride with / use a Power Meter - and if so, was there any point at which you looked down and thought "er, this is going to hurt big time!" and have to ignore it?!

I do race with a Power2max - the bike was hard especially at times, but I have averaged more watts in other races this year; as I say I was in the right place for me racing the whole race not just the swim/bike part -I had my race plan as others did, and I stuck to mine.

After such a hard ride, I guess you never know how you are going to feel until you start the run - did you feel like you had 'good legs' from the start?

Yeah, I guess I did have good legs. I had a hiccup in T2 and had to go back twice to my bike. The first time as my timing chip fell off in the swim they made me go back and put a new one on in T2, then for the first time in 70.3 we had 'ITU style' transitions and my helmet was not in my box, so I had to go back again to put it in. I only lost about 25 seconds or so.

I was amazed how hard everyone ran out of T2, not just Jan and Javi. I thought wow, theses guys are all either going to run a 70min 21km or blow up and run a 1.16 - 1.20 with a massive positive split. I settled into my own rhythm and just ran my own pace. I am still learning to race the 21km after a hard bike. I felt good, but not as good I would have liked, but I just rolled with it and built into my run.

Tim wins Rev3 Knoxville

You have been incredibly consistent this season, with lots of wins and podium finishes in every race - is being settled in the US now, with your family - and all the stress that involves in terms of relocating / houses / friends etc - a key element of that?

For sure, Boulder is one of the all round best places for training I have ever trained in. At 1600m altitude with runs up to 3000m, it is amazing. My family is settled, Matilda is at a nice pre-school and Kelly my wife is enjoying living here too. For me it was very important to be consistent in all my races. With all of my contracts but one up for renewal this year I had to show some of my sponsors I could be competitive at 70.3 (seven races, seven podiums), in any field in the world. With only racing seven times sponsors are important, as is performing every time you race, which I think I can say I did this year.

You've been in the sport for a long time now - and perhaps one of the few 'veterans' who started off as an enthusiastic Junior Age Grouper, who then got more keen, got faster, got older, turned Pro... and yet you still seem to have the excitement / fun element that you had 20 years ago?! How do you keep so motivated, yet still performing at the highest level?

It is Triathlon - I bloody love it, it's not a job, I have been racing since 1992. Anyone reading this will know what I mean; pushing your body, your mind, racing, travelling, the training lifestyle. It's a way of life for me, I am very lucky to have it and the older I get the more I appreciate it, especially moments like getting third at World 70.3 Champs. Hell yeah !!!!

©Delly Carr / www.triathlon.org

Of all of the races you've done over a long career, what would you regard as your single best performance (whether you won the event of not) - the day when physically and mentally everything was a close to perfect as you've ever managed?

I guess winning World ITU champs in 2006 was right up there as was my World Junior title way back in 1998 - that set me up as a true PRO, not relying on funding like lots of athletes, I was totally outside the system then. Maybe that truly perfect day is yet to come, that’s what I train for and race for That Performance.

Tim Don wins ITU World Champs 2006 ©Delly Carr /ITU Media

One of the things I see with you is that you've always mixed up races - you've done (and won) at Aquathlon, Duathlon, you've raced Powerman, large domestic races, raced on the track, road 10k's and been brought up as a youngster on local events like the Thames Turbo Sprint and Hillingdon swim-run-bike etc - is doing 70.3 now just another extension of that, keeping things fresh?

Totally keeping it fresh; big races, small races... I love racing in the UK too. This is the first year I have never raced in the UK in my whole career and I am gutted. I was planning to race UK 70.3 but had to pull out at the last minute as my daughter was very ill. The old club system was great, all the top juniors racing week-in, week-out, not hiding and just doing time trials to get funding. I was learning my skill Triathlon racing, and having a great time as well !!!

Tim Don ©Dave Tyrell

Talking of new challenges... this coming week you have Ironman Mallorca. With your year so far, I'm assuming that the 70.3 World Champs was your key goal, so what are your expectations / hopes for your first Ironman? With a late season Ironman in 2014 does that mean - should things all go to plan - that Kona 2015 would on your radar?

100%, the 70.3 World Champs was my A race. This (Ironman Mallorca), is just a case of get a low key one under my belt and get some more points for Kona 2015. If I can manage a top four then I should be in mathematically with a few good 70.3 races next year. I really want another crack at the World 70.3 next year in Europe as I feel I am still developing as an athlete in that area. Hell, I have not done the Ironman yet so let's see how I go and also what I learn about myself and racing the distance .

I know you've been out to Kona before and watched the race - as a triathlon 'geek' (compliment!), how motivating is that for you as a goal for the later stages of your career?

Kona or no Kona, I don’t need that big motivation - I love lining up against the best in the world and racing them, not team tactics etc, just good old school triathlon racing how ITU used to be and Ironman and 70.3 are for the moment

As you aren't racing Kona this year... who are your tips for success in the Men's and Women's Pro races?!

Big question. Jan Frodeno, pure class. Ivan Rana dark horse, watch him run. Most of the Euros racing too, Freddie, Bart, Tyler... it is pretty open this year. I think the swim and first 40k of the bike are going to be fast so the swim is very important.

The women, I would love to see a GB 1,2,3 !!! Daniela Ryf is on fire, Xena is in shape, Liz, Jodie, Rachel, Leanda... there could be a big lead group and if they push hard, Rinnie will have to run a 2h50min....oh wait she does that already !!! It's going to be great to watch... that is, if Ironman have live coverage !!!!!

Finally, I know you've also been combining your own racing with some coaching of athletes too - how has that been working out, and if anyone wants to get guided by 'The Don', where can they find out more?

I am loving the coaching, the guys are great to work with, so motivated and balanced how they juggle family / work / training and racing - I take my hat off to all the age groupers, I really do. At the moment I am full as I like to keep the numbers down to give quality. If you want to follow me check out my Twitter / Instagram / Facebook page.

Thanks Tim - and best wishes for Mallorca

Cheers John!


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