Pre-Kona Qwik-View with Kiwi Pro Mike Phillips

Qwik Kiwi: Congratulations on qualifying for Kona as a pro for the first time.

Your season thus far has been pretty great with winning 70.3 Taupo, winning Challenge Melbourne and your 2nd place at IM Barcelona with a time comfortably under the 8 hour barrier. This combined with your 4th in Switzerland and 5th at IMNZ and some other good results in various Asian 70.3 events. What have been the highlights of the season for you personally?

Mike Phillips: Barcelona was the biggest highlight for me.  I had been in Europe training and racing for three months. I was in great shape, but Ironmans are tricky to get right and I was still very much a novice. I felt that day I really performed to the best of my ability.

Another highlight was Ironman Switzerland.  It was a last minute decision to race based on my current Kona points. I had just had a break from training and had four weeks to prepare for the race.  On the second day when I started back training, I crashed on a descent in Nice while out cycling. I did some damage to my hip and I was unable to run on it for more than 5km. I had to finish in the top 6 to qualify for Kona, so the pressure was on, but somehow I got the job done.  The marathon was very painful, but I held on to finish 4th. This was another day where I really got the best out of myself on the day.

QK: You hold the record for the fastest IM race on debut, for your 7:52:50 at Barcelona. How did this race unfold for you?

MP: I had a three month stint in Europe culminating with Ironman Barcelona.  It was purely a learning experience for me. I had a great build up and was in the form of my life in all three disciplines. There were about 75 Male pros. I was hoping for a Top 15. The majority of the field were strong runners, so I was hoping to have a head start on the marathon from as many others as possible.

I led most of the swim and pushed hard at the start of the bike. I was at 350W average at the 30km mark, but there was still a large lead group of 12. I decided to conserve some energy and be patient. A Frenchman escaped at 100km and no-one was chasing. I waited another 20km and then went after him. I wasn’t sure whether this was a dumb move or a smart move at the time, but we entered T2 with around an 8 minute lead on the group behind. At the start of the marathon I felt amazing.  At the halfway point I was still leading and still had an 8 minute lead on the group of runners. This is where I started to slow, and the Frenchman passed me back at the 24km mark. I still held on for a 2:50 Marathon and 2nd place.

I actually had no idea I had gone under 8 hours.   I was just treating it like a race and trying to get to the finish before the others!

QK: You are an all round triathlete who is solid across the board. This is set up by a pretty good swim leg. Is there a key swim set that you contribute to this success?

MP: I am fortunate enough to have grown up swimming.  Most of my swims now are recovery swims, as I am still trying to prioritise progress on my bike and run. I like to do a lot of mixed sets, IM, Bands, Pull, Mixed strokes just to try and keep it fresh.

QK: Do you train with a power meter? If so, what type?

MP: Yes, Pioneer.

QK: What is your favourite bike session?

MP: When I am at home I love the Tuesday group ride.  We do about an hour on the flat and then its a free-for-all through the hills back to town!

QK: Do you have a particular run session that is your go to?

MP: I run a lot, so I cover most bases in a week. But my favourite is just a long run around the hills in Christchurch.  The terrain is difficult and it is great conditioning for long distance racing.

QK: Thorsten Radde’s predictions from www.trirating.com puts you as second New Zealander (with Terenzo withdrawing). He also lists you as having an 8% chance of finishing in the Top 10 – not bad for a first time pro. You must find this very confidence inspiring. What are you aiming to achieve (not necessarily results wise but learning/experience wise) in Kona?

MP: I am just approaching it as I would any other race. I have prepared as well as possible, and I will try to perform to the best of my ability on race day. It will however be a bit of trial and error to get it right in Kona as there are so many factors contributing to a good performance here (tactics, pacing, nutrition etc.). If I can get these things right I think a Top 10 is possible.

QK: All the best for the big dance next weekend Mike.  We will all be watching the live stream back here to watch your progress.

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Get more of the Pre-Kona series of Qwik Interview with other top level athletes (including Braden Currie, Callum Millward, Melanie Burke amongst others) here:


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