A living legend in Triathlon, Chris McCormack is considered one of the best all around Triathletes to ever compete and has now won a World Title in three different decades!
Australian Chris McCormack, known affectionately as ‘Macca’, began competing in Olympic Distance courses in 1996. The following year, he won both the Triathlon World Championships and the ITU World Cup Series! To date, no-one else has ever won both titles in a single year again. Never looking back, Macca continued to win and has become the worlds most winning Triathlete over the past decade. In 2002, always eager for a new challenge, Macca shifted his focus to longer distance racing with the Half and Full Ironman’s. McCormack won yet again, claiming victory in both his first Half Ironman as well as his first Ironman. He has since won 13 Ironman titles around the globe and on four occasions he has finished an Ironman under the mythical 8 hours, no two different courses -- a feat no other athlete has ever accomplished, In both 2007 and 2010 McCormack won the Ironman World Championship!
Setting his sites on yet another challenge, McCormack has once again shifted his efforts returning to short course and ITU racing, in hopes of making the 2012 Olympics.
|2-time Ironman Hawaii World Champion|
|13-tme Ironman Champion|
|5-time Triathlete of the Year|
|ITU Olympic Distance World Champion|
|ITU Triathlon World Cup Champion|
|23 National Championships|
|7 x World Cup Champion|
|Goodwill Games Gold Medalist|
|4 x Escape from Alcatraz Champion|
|4 x Wildflower Half Ironman Champion|
Ironman Hawaii World ChampionshipOctober 15, 2009
I first want to thank everyone who sent messages of support through calling me, email, twitter and facebook accounts. I was bombarded and truly touched. I write this from Australia and am finally home with my girls and have to say life does not get any better than this.
Ironman Hawaii 2009 is over and it was a tough day at the office. These Ironman races whether they be in Australia, Germany, Hawaii or anywhere in the world are character building. There really is no other sport that allows someone to really look deep inside themselves for such a long period of time and assess what their real desires and motivations are. You just cant fake it. If you are racing for the wrong reasons, it quickly bubbles to the surface in an Ironman. You cant hide from yourself, and I think this is why these events are so emotionally draining as well as physically. These events build character like nothing else, and my race on the weekend did exactly that. If I was assessing my race on a performance or outcome point of view, then I could be mistaken for saying that my race was a failure. But when you are honest with yourself, and look deep inside yourself I am over the moon with my performance. The race was a huge mixed bags of emotions for me. Ironman never runs smoothly but this years event was extra tough. I have won 12 Ironman's around the world, and tasted the finish line on another 6 occasions. Some of the races I have won have felt easy, some have hurt, but my 2009 Ironman Hawaii was my most satisfying.
I exited the swim over 2 minutes down on where I expected to be. My swim in Ironman has always been a relative strength, and I have always been able to sit comfortably in the front group. This year in Ironman Germany I missed the front group by 3 minutes, and honestly thought this was an isolated incident. When something happens once you can assume that it is an isolated thing, but now here I was again in Kona 2 minutes down on the front group. This is obviously a problem and something that I need to rectify immediately for next year. You can imagine the panic I was in post swim. My mind was all over the place and I knew I had to get my emotions under control. I told myself, "ok this is not ideal. This is not what we had planned. But get it together."
Out of the water I was on the back foot immediately. I knew the pace up front would be fast, but after watching the event last year from the tech van, I knew the real power in this race would start to be asserted at the turn around point in Havi. I knew I had been putting out great numbers in training on the bike, I just had to not panic and allow the race to unfold. In the first 30km of the bike ride we had ridden the bike group back to 1 minute and could have almost got onto the back of the group. I was feeling very good and was looking for some help upfront to help close this gap quickly. I thought, this is my chance and really tried to get the guys in my group to help. I have to say Cameron Brown had the same mindset as me and knew how easy it would be if we could just make contact with the front group prior to the Scenic Lookout at 45km into the race. The German Commerze Bank Team were all with us but sat back and didnt see the urgency in this aggressive move to make up for our lost time. I yelled a few times at these guys but they were happy to relax and watch as the group started to take the time back away from us on the long descent towards Waikoloa. I knew then it was over for the early chase and now it was time to focus on a long more sustained ride through this 112 miles.
I felt magic on the bike and when Normann Stadler joined me at about 60km into the bike ride, he gave me the thumbs up to keep the pace solid. We were losing time to the front group rapidly but I knew as that group started to disintegrate up towards Havi, that we would eat into their lead on the return journey home. What tends to occur in the front group, is that a lot of the excited new guys do the lions share of the work early on the bike because they feel so good. This enables you to sit in and get carried by the pace. They chase the early swim leaders and the pace is fast. Then you get the second push out towards Waikoloa as the athletes try to win the bike prime that is set up at Waikoloa Village turn off. This section from Scenic Lookout (40km) until Waiakoloa (65km) is really fast as they push to catch the swim leaders and all the guys try and grab the 5000 dollar prime on offer. The contenders for the title get to sit in and enjoy the free pace setting as the guys do all the heavy lifting for you. The climbs to Kaiwahiee come next and this softens the legs of the pretenders who have done all the work. It is here that these guys tend to realize just how far this race is. It is also the point where the side winds start and the heat turns up. It is no longer early morning, and the sun really beats down. By the time you get to Havi, half these athlletes will be dropped and the pace in the front group will drop right off. This is where the strong bikers will make their move and pull lots of time on the group in the second half of the bike course. In years past Torbjorn Sindablle made his move here, Normann Stadler, Faris, Hellriegal, Zach and this year it was Lieto. The pace setting is then left up to the runners and the group always loses big time in the return journey home to the bikers. It was also my game plan this year, and what I had trained to do. Even though we were down on the bike I intended to follow this same principle and bite my time. My bike has always been a weapon, and I allowed it to drop off to develop my run to ultimately win this race. I worked on my bike and it is back to being a huge weapon again. All season I knew this was going to be my trump card, and I was going to blow the guys away with this new approach.No one would expect this. Obviously, the improved bike strength has come at an expense to my swim but this gives me a focus for next year. I would really like to win this race the same way I have won many Ironmans. From the front. This is what I aim to do. Anyway back to the race....
We turned at Havi 4 minutes down on the group. Myself, Norman and Miak Twelsaik really pushed the climb to Havi and my group blew apart. The first casualty was Bert Jammer, then Cameron Brown. I was feeling really strong and after the Special needs at Havi, I put my head down and committed to the chase. We took 2 minutes out of the group in the next 30km and then in sight of Waikoloa I caught my first glimpse of the group on one of the long straights. I was starting to get a few little cramps in my legs here on the bike and was smashing down the salt to keep them at bay. I have a tendency to cramp in these humid races and have found that salt is my key weapon in fighting these off. I was not expecting these cramps so early but they were controllable. I caught the group at scenic lookout and it had all the guys in it. I saw Pete Jacobs and we had a little chat. Pete is a great guy and a young kid with lots of potential. He had a laugh and told me I need to come swim traininig with him next year. I had a chuckle myself and decided to sit in for a little. I was shocked at how slow these guys were moving and thought to myself, - I am out of here. On the climb up to Scenic Lookout I moved through the group to see if anyone would respond. I rode off the front and only Normann joined me. We rode away and I was feeling amazing. Just as I had planned in the race, I was off the front and trailing Chris Lieto but in striking distance. At this point this race was mine. Who could out run me when I am feeling this good, and if those guys back in the group were feeling any good they would have responded to my move. In the next 40km ride home I pushed to open up 3 minutes on the group and to hold Lieto at 7 minutes. This race was mine. Thats what I was thinking anyway.....
I was concerned at my cramping that was starting to become more pronounced. I always cramp in my internal abductors and on the sartorious muscle but it is the inside of my quads. The last 20km of the bike was frustrating. I had run out of salt and was now forced to rely on just Gatorade (all they have on the course) for my salt and just punching my legs to try and release the spasms. It was a little frustrating but I was feeling great and I knew that I had new salt reserves in transition 2. The last 15 km of the bike I really couldn't push as hard as I wanted to. I think we had another couple of minutes in us, but Norman was not coming around and my legs were in and out of spasms. My mindset here was, don't panic, ride out the storm stay controlled and unleash on the run. My last 6 Ironman runs have all been under 2:45. Catch me if you can boys. No need to squeeze any extra time. Stay in control and hold these cramps off with Gatorade. As a bigger guy, cramps in these hot races continue to plague me. My physiology and tests in the labs, have shown me that I am always on diminshing returns. What all my times in the labs have taught me is how to deal with them. This is something I didnt know when I first came to Kona. Turn up the humidty and you turn up my problems. Today was super hot and my problems were coming earlier than expected.
I jumped off the bike with Normann and we had a chat. He was in a bad way and I tried to encourage him to push on. We have had our differences in the past, but he has calmed over the past few years and we have started to chat a lot more. In the tent I was really trying to motivate him to push on, but I could see his fire was out. I ran out of the tent, dumped some salt tablets and will be honest with everyone here, I thought I was running to my 2nd title. Good luck catching me. 7 minutes down on Lieto, 3 minutes up on Crowie, Henning and Raelert (my main concerns pre race). I was going to win. Everything was now going to plan. I forgot about my bad swim and focused now on holding 6 minute miles for the marathon. It was hot, really hot, and the first few miles I could not open up on the run as these cramps were still bothering me a little. I turned at mile marker 5 feeling great. I had cut 3 minutes from Lieto's lead and was holding the pack behind at bay. I was starting to feel a little sick from all the gatorade I had consumed in the last portion of the bike course, but overall I felt alert, focused and was in a good place physically and mentally. I got to mile marker 8 and my first big cramp hit me. It pulled me up a llittle as I ran down the hill towards LuLu's. I changed my running gate a little, dumped some more salt and once I hit the flatter section it went away. I took a mental note, don't stride out on the down hills. Keep the strides short, and the rhythm high and take the salt in. This was the first time I started to get a little concerned. It was the first cramp that had really pulled me up.
The run up Palani hill is a key section of the race. It is at mile 10 and you then run out into the lava fields. I was 2 minutes 45 seconds up on the chasers Crowie and Raelert and 5 minutes down on Lieto. In training camp, Terenzo and I had run this 16 mile section twice weekly. This was where you win Ironman Hawaii. The run to the energy lab and out. I crested Palani Hill and BANG cramps hit me again. I pulled up a little but with the 1 mile downhill run here it was a real struggle. I was really trying to hold together but the cramps were really bad. I just didnt want to walk. Walking would end my chances at the title and the guys would eat into my lead. In the next mile I lost 2 minutes to both the leader and the guys behind and at exactly halfway through the run, Crowie and Raelert ran by me. Crowie gave me the thumbs up and told me to run with him. It was not a matter of desire it was simply I could not stride out. I watched these guys run off into the distance and at this point my morale was at its lowest.
I really started to think to myself, how am I going to get through another 13 miles like this. It was agony. I was drinking lots of coke and my stomach was really starting to rebel. I knew I had over compensated on the salt and the gatorade and simply had to ride out this storm while my body absorbed the electrolytes I had consumed and sent them to the rebelling muscles. Faris ran past me a little later, and that hurt. We have had our differences and he had a smile from ear to ear as he watched me walking and throwing up . In the space of two miles I had lost 4 minutes. I remember thinking to myself of all the sacrifices I had made with my family this year. I had travelled back and forward to Australia 7 times this season and been away from my kids for a total of 22 weeks out of 52 in the year. I was so sad and just didnt want to let them down. I was getting to this finish line no matter what, but I was not going to just stroll in. I was going to push myself to get their as fast as possible. This race this year was more than just about me. It was personal. Nothing is more personal than having to talk to your kids on a computer screen from training camps. They had sacrificed with me this year so not pushing on was letting them down aswell. I was in a real bad way for a few miles here. I walked a lot, vomitted a lot and was cramping really badly. It was one of the toughest sections of an Ironman I have ever been in before. It was absolute agony. I thought my muscles were going to be ripped from the bone but continued to shuffle and walk and vomit. In that order.
Rasmus Henning and Terenzo where the next guys to catch me. I had thrown up a lot and my stomach was feeling a little better. As we approached the energy lab I knew my run for the title was over, but my race wasn't. I ran with Rasmus for a short period and really started to feel the cramps subside. The electrolytes were absorbed and I was feeling better.My dark period was coming to an end and that sick feeling was gone. I was now 7 minutes from the lead and with 10 miles to run was back in the game. I immediately pushed into the energy lab and went past Rasmus and Terenzo. I remember thinking "Wow" I am back. I went after Faris and by the bottom of the Lab had caught him. I was back in 4th position and was going after Lieto. I was running sub 6 minute miles again and remember seeing the boys at the bottom of the energy lab take a double take at me. I was running again and looking and feeling good. My mindset now was to cross that line and catch as many people infront of me as possible and not let a single person past me. I had just endured 4 miles of hell, where finishing was my mindset. Now I was back, I was going to get to the line as fast as possible and catch as many guys as possible.
I ran the last 9 miles of the race quicker than anybody in the field, and crossed the line in 4th place. I was absolutely ecstatic. I had no idea who had won the race, and when I crossed the line I embraced Crowie and congratulated him. I saw Raelert and gave him a hug. We have had so many wars in our life it was a smile of respect from both of us. I had beaten Andreas in Germany this year by 24 seconds, and he had just beaten me in Kona by 40 seconds. We hugged and laughed and both congratulated each other. Andreas and I have raced each other since World Cup days in the 90's. He is a great guy. I thought Chris Lieto had won the race to be honest and when I saw him, I went over and shook his hand. My wife Emma was there to greet me and my friends from Las Vegas, LA, Scotty Fairchild my Agent, MG, the Under Armour crew, Dylan, Biestmilch Gang and the Maso family all embraced me. I was actually doing pretty well. I could tell they were sad for me, and I told them all I could not be happier with my race. I might not have won which was what the focus was, but I have probably not ever raced a better Ironman in my life.
If you assess Ironman as a series of highs and lows, then I touched every spectrum in this race and came out the other end just 5 minutes from the win and in 4th place overall. This race to be honest was one of my best considering. I was calm, focused and driven all day and was beaten by guys who simply put together better races on the day than me. I will be back next year again am excited about going to war with them and winning my third World Title. This Ironman Hawaii race has become the single event in my career that I have grown the most in. I have won World Cup races, World Cup series, World Championships, Goodwill Games, Alcatraz's, Widlflowers, National Titles, European Championships and the list goes on and on. I guess as you get older you reflect more from a deeper place on events and look back at where you draw your motivation from. In my short course days I guess I was driven by the excitement and the love of competition and travel. It was so exciting and new and just being in a sport that allowed you to meet your competitive desires and that you absolutely loved was your motivation. I never reflected. I just wanted to win and then think of the next goal and win that. I sometimes think about some of the early World Cup races I won and what I was feeling, and I cant remember. It was race, win and them move onto the next goal. When I moved to Ironman in 2002 I had the same mindset. I just wanted to win. My failings at Ironman Hawaii in my early years really made me slow down and think. It made me go into the labs and learn about myself. This race became my project and an event, that although not suited to my physiology is the race I have enjoyed the most in my career.My family has grown up with this race and more than anything they have become my motivation and drive. I will be back to Hawaii again and again, to endure again what I experienced on the lava fields this year. My family always comes first and we begin our planning now for next year. Tahlia loves school here in Australia, Sienna starts school next year and who knows our family may grow. This being said, as a family we chose this sport and this is what I do. We will plan next season the same way we did this year, as a family and my motivation will continue to be them. I have never been stronger mentally in my life, and I know it is because of them that I can do what I do.
Post race I spoke with my girls on the phone and to hear their voices was great. Its funny how sometimes a child can put everything into perspective for you. I had only been finished for 20 minutes, was sore and tired and my youngest daughter Sienna said to me, "Daddy how many sleeps until you come home. I want to kiss you." I smiled and told her I would be home in 2 days. Here I am back in Australia and I just tucked my daughters into bed. Life doesn't get any better than this. The excitement on my girls face to see me is better than any finish line in the world. Being back with my kids is everything to me. It is the sacrifices and the time away from them that drove me to the finish line this year in Kona and it is embracing these moments with them that puts everything into perspective.
Safe training everyone. I look forward to seeing you all on a start line soon.
December 1, 2012
April 5, 2011
March 19, 2010
February 25, 2010
February 9, 2010
February 4, 2010
December 17, 2009
November 12, 2009
November 12, 2009
October 15, 2009
September 14, 2009
July 9, 2009
June 2, 2009
May 22, 2009
April 30, 2009
April 23, 2009
April 8, 2009
February 27, 2009