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© Richard Melik / Freespeed.co.uk
Joe Skipper outlines 2016 plans
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Thursday 19th November 2015


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Joe Skipper sets out 2016 schedule: Sub-8 at Challenge Roth is "big aim"

Ironman New Zealand, Challenge Roth and Kona to provide the three key targets of Joe Skipper's 2016 season

Long distance athlete Joe Skipper (www.joeskipper.co.uk) earned an ITU World Championship Bronze medal earlier this season in Sweden, earning himself a place on our 2015 GB World and Euro Champs Roll of Honour. It was also his debut at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, where Joe finished 13th.

A Boardman Bikes sponsored athlete, I met up with Joe last week at their 2016 range launch to look back on his Kona experience and what he learned for future years. We also discussed his 2016 schedule, where a sub eight hour finish at Challenge Roth next July is a big target, "that's definitely the aim for it. I think I can do it", and why he'll be be giving Ironman UK a miss next season.


The first Kona experience - did it live up to expectations?

Most definitely, it completely exceeded it for me. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing for weeks leading into the race - you could tell it had that big race feel, but for two weeks instead of the two days that you would get at a lot of other races. I thought the course was really good. It was harder than what I expected - I thought it was a bit of a dragstrip from what I'd seen on TV, but the course was actually quite challenging. For me it was a brilliant experience and lived up to what I hoped.

Joe Skipper ©Richard Melik / Freespeed.co.uk

Going to Kona is an expensive trip and a long one too, you were there a number of weeks beforehand. 13th position was a strong debut there but obviously is just outside the top-10 prize money positions. Overall, in terms of your development as an athlete do you see that as a good investment and a positive race experience for you?

Definitely - of course you could think, I won't do a race if I'm not guaranteed a top ten, but you can never guarantee that in a World Championships anyway. You could get a mechanical, anything can happen - you can't control what others do on race day, you just have to concentrate on your own performance. For me as well it was also good to speak to other sponsors out there and do a bit of networking, so it helped in that aspect. It will help for subsequent years too, knowing the course and what the race involves - so it will certainly pay off in the future.

Related Article - Joe Skipper's Boardman AiR TTE

What were your main learning points from this year that you'll be looking to implement and improve on when you return in future years?

Definitely trying to find out how to better cope with the heat on the run. I've been in really good running form this year, but I've struggled to do a decent run in the heat. At Ironman Texas I didn't do a very good run and Hawaii was the same, even though in the lead up to those races I'd been running really well. At the ITU World Champs in Sweden when it was a bit colder, I was the fastest runner on the day and so understanding and improving in that area is going to be very important for me. Other than that, working on my swim. I've set up my own, basically Masters swim group back in Norwich and I'm already seeing big gains from that, the motivation from doing good sets, long-course swimming and it's only been for a couple of weeks.

For any Pro wanting to race Kona a key aspect is race planning with the qualifying (KPR) points process. With some good points earned already from Kona towards next year what's the plan for you in that regard going into 2016?

I'm aiming to do Ironman New Zealand in March. If I win it then I'm basically guaranteed to qualify for Kona next year. I've got 1,900 points from Kona this year and for qualification in 2015 you needed about 3,600 to make the first cut. So, a podium in New Zealand with perhaps a couple of halfs will do it.

I want to get that out of the way early because in July I really want to target Challenge Roth and go sub eight hours. That is really my big aim for the middle of the season and I've wanted to do it for ages, but, as you say, there is Kona qualification to consider so it is hard to fit it all in. It's not something to go for half-heartedly, you have to go in 100% for a good result.

At the moment at least, a sub-eight would make you the first British athlete to achieve that. You have proved you have got the speed on the bike with that 4:10:07 bike split in Texas, and in some ways you perhaps got more headlines for that than you did for coming third in the ITU Long Distance World Champs. As a marketing element that's also quite key for you in commercial terms as an athlete?

Yeah - I definitely want to go sub-eight, that's definitely the aim for it. I think I can do it because I've looked at the splits you need and if you can do a 50min swim and 4:15 on the bike then you've only got to run 2:55. I've definitely been looking at it all and it is a big target.

Related Article - Analysis: Joe Skipper's Ironman Texas

Joe Skipper ©Janos M. Schmidt/ITU Media

Any other changes for next year - you mentioned networking and potential sponsors on Kona, is there anything in the pipeline?

Yes, there are a few things in the pipeline and once it is all confirmed I'll announce it on Twitter / Facebook. I'm also looking to make my team, 'Team Skipper' bigger. We're looking at getting some cycling kit and triathlon kit made with Endura and making that an extension under my website. I want to make that a bigger project.

One of the ways that people can connect with you and tap into your experience and knowledge is I know you are offering some weekly training sessions by email - can you tell us a bit more about that?

Basically back in Norwich I coach a group of really committed athletes that train in a group. I coach them and do the sessions myself and basically everyone has been making big gains by doing the sessions, so I thought that if people want to subscribe to the mailing list, I send out six of the sessions we do in a group. There are changes within the sessions which may vary by athlete speed for example, so the sessions can apply to athletes of varying abilities with proper structure.

(To find out more about Joe's weekly training session, contact him via his athlete Facebook page for more details).

I know Ironman UK was one of the few races you did this year that didn't really go to plan for you - it was a race you really wanted to win after several previous podiums. Does that fit into your schedule for 2016 or will you have to pass on that given you are already planning New Zealand, Roth and hopefully then Kona?

No, it definitely won't fit in next year! I've had enough of it for a year or two, and definitely need a break for it! Like you say, I am going to have to go back at some point because I feel like I've got unfinished business with it and it is a race I want to win - but not in 2016.


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