Friday, March 20, 2009

Q&A with Mirinda Carfrae: The World Champ Is Setting Her Sights on Kona

Written by Liz Hichens
Photos by Brad Kaminski

The 70.3 and Ironman World Champion Gear Up For a Battle in Kona 2009

Q&A with Mirinda Carfrae: The World Champ Is Setting Her Sights on Kona

Written by Liz Hichens

Carfrae will be competing in Kona in October. Photo by Brad Kaminski.
With Chrissie Wellington dominating the last two years at the Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, many have raised the question as to who will challenge Wellington in the 2009 race. After sticking strictly to half-Ironman distance races, former Ironman 70.3 world champion Mirinda Carfrae is adding her name to the list of contenders who will challenge for the top spot in Kona.

We sat down with Carfrae to talk about her decision to take on Kona, as well as how she will approach her season leading up to the big event.

Triathlete: How do you feel coming off of 2008?

Carfrae: I was pretty disappointed with the Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Clearwater and how that ended up, but last year was a mixed bag and I did have some good results early last season. In the first ten races, I was on the podium nine times and that was great. Having said that, I would trade all of that for a world title. Looking forward, I'm pretty excited about this whole season with the Ironman World Championship in Kona being the big goal. It is a different focus for me than it has been over the last few years and I'm very excited for what's to come.

Triathlete: What will your race schedule be leading up to Kona?

Carfrae: I will be doing a lot of 70.3s again. I'm racing Ironman 70.3 California at Oceanside, St. Anthony's Triathlon, and St. Croix Ironman 70.3. Then I will have a heavy race schedule in June with Revolution Three, Eagleman Ironman 70.3, and Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake. After that, I'm going to be getting ready to do Kona.

Triathlete: Do you enjoy having a heavy racing schedule?

Carfrae: I love racing. I think that was one of my problems last year. I definitely needed to sit down with my coach and say, when are we going to get quality training and rest, and when is the best time to race? I try to get in as many races as possible without hurting my training program and my improvement.

Triathlete: Why did you choose this year to go after Kona?

Carfrae: I always had in the back of my mind that 2009 would be the year that I would do Kona. I'm 28 this year, so I figure it's a good year to give it a shot. Most women peak in their low- to mid-30s, and I definitely think you can stay strong into your late 30s and 40s. I didn't want to do Kona too early in my career, and I enjoyed racing the 70.3 series. I'm ready to take the big leap.

Along with Wellington and Sandra Wallenhorst, Carfrae is part of Cannondale's trio of female triathletes competing in Kona this year.
Triathlete: Will you focus on one area over another leading up to Kona?

Carfrae: I think the bike will be the focus for me. I feel like women's racing in Kona has really taken a step up over the past couple of years. We've got Chrissie, who has really raised the bar, and there are a bunch of women who can run sub-three-hour marathons and are still riding very strong. I think if I can have a strong swim and a really good bike, I just need to be there on the run.

Triathlete: Leading up to Kona you are still focusing on the half-Ironman distance races, will your training throughout the season be any different?

Carfrae: I will be upping my long ride and my long run. With 70.3s you can really get away with training with the mindset that you're training for an Olympic-distance race. The half is so much closer in distance to an Olympic than it is to an Ironman. The last few years I have been putting in longer runs and rides just to see how my body would handle it. I always knew I would do an Ironman.

Carfrae is still considering competing at Clearwater after Kona. Photo by Brad Kaminski.
Triathlete: Will you still be doing Clearwater?

Carfrae: I would like to think so, but everything is geared towards Kona at the moment and I will reassess after the race. I feel like I probably will race Clearwater, but anything can happen in Kona.

Triathlete: How do you feel about Cannondale's recent announcement that Chrissie Wellington will be riding Cannondale for the next three years?

Carfrae: I love Cannondale. I've ridden on their bikes my whole career. Any athlete of her caliber who wants to ride a Cannondale shows the high quality of the product. Any way that we can get Cannondale in the spotlight is a good thing and I'm all for it. I also get along very well with Chrissie. I think she's great.

Wellington saught the advice of Carfrae when making her decision to go with Cannondale. Photo by Brad Kaminski.

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