A few words with Tim Berkel
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Mon Aug 30 2010
Slowtwitch: Tim, what are you getting ready for?
Tim: I’m just coming off a much needed two week break after Copenhagen and am now focused on the Australian season and Clearwater 70.3 in November. I’m also considering giving Phukett 70.3 a go.
ST: Prior to Copenhagen, did you really think people were looking at you as a one-hit wonder?
Tim: Having won at IMWA quite young, and that being back in 2008, there was definitely a level of pressure to perform again. I had heard a few people whispering that I had just gotten lucky at Busso and that maybe I was a one-hit wonder, but I kept reminding myself that I am still young for an Ironman athlete. I guess that sort of talk made winning again at Copenhagen an even sweeter victory, and it was a bit of an ‘up yours’ to the non-believers!
ST: What were your expectations going into Challenge Copenhagen?
Tim: I knew I was fit, having had an excellent training block for the previous 3½ months here in Boulder with my mate Matty White. I also did a bit of bike racing to sharpen me up, including a couple of races with Lachy Morton from Garmin-Transitions, who also lives in Boulder. I knew my form was coming along well as I went 4th, 3rd and 2nd consecutively in my U.S. 70.3 racing program. I could only hope to finish off the sequence with a win, and happily that came together for me at Copenhagen, so I am a happy chap!
ST: The course in Copenhagen seems to be quite fast, does that in general suit you better?
Tim: The course was definitely fast, which really appealed to me. I have in the past been seen to be an athlete who runs their way up the field, so it was a great confidence boost for me to be able to demonstrate a new found bike strength as I attacked the field 120km in, building a 2:58 lead into the run. The bike leg was quite technical, which suited me (and made doing all those damn crit races worth it!). The run was awesome as it went smack-bang through the city, following the old harbour of Nyhavn. The course was lined with thousands of spectators, and the finish line outside the Old Parliament Building made for an insane atmosphere.
ST: You described the atmosphere at the finish in Copenhagen as insane so can you tell us which other races compared had similar feels?
Tim: Ironman Oz and Ironman WA have a pretty good atmosphere at their finish lines! The party gets better as the night goes on, the age groupers finishing late get more of a cheer than the winner! Plus my mate Pete Murry does a great job on the mic, getting the crowd pumped up.
Tim: I think the swim was pretty spot-on, and according to my Garmin, the ride was about 179km and the run was about 41.5km, (although I know it stopped a few times with satellite interruption from the buildings, so thereabouts).
ST: How much time did you spend in Denmark and what did you take away from that country and the city of Copenhagen?
Tim: I got into Copenhagen the Tuesday prior to the race and left early the Tuesday following, giving me a week to enjoy the city, which was incredibly beautiful, trendy and cultured. I loved exploring the historic inner city, and feel lucky to have been able to visit such a unique country.
A few things I took away:
- Bec Keat and I are terrible gamblers, and should be banned from the Copenhagen Casino!
- A pair of stylish boots, purchased during Denmark Fashion Week.
- A terrible hangover and flogging of the credit card at an epic after party put on by the Challenge guys.
- Unfortunately no sightings of Queen Mary, even though we ran past her humble home - the Palace.
- Taking away the Challenge title wasn’t so bad either- got to love bringing home the bacon for once
ST: That is very interesting; I was about to ask you and Bec Keat to bet with me.
Tim: Haha maybe you can teach us a few tricks!
ST: At Rhode Island 70.3 you finished as the runner-up very close to Terenzo Bozzone, and after the race you mentioned that he put the sword to you on the run. Was that run harder than most any other run this year?
Tim: I was starting to feel really fit by Rhode Island and was having a great race coming into the run. Terenzo and Richie took off at the start of the run and it took me a couple of kilometers to get on their shoulders. As soon as I caught them, I hit them both and managed to drop Richie, but Terenzo came with me. I was feeling good and putting surges on him, and I thought maybe I had him - I was feeling good enough to have a bit of a joke and give him rabbit ears in front of the crowd. All of a sudden, however, he started putting the sword to me with a surge going up the last hill, which I just couldn’t match! Running side by side with someone makes it very tough, so yeah it probably has been the hardest run of my U.S. season.
Tim: Yeah, that will teach me to fool around during a race!! Nah I don't think it cost me anything, I seemed to race better when I'm enjoying myself!
ST: Were you content with the race itself?
Tim: I was over the moon to finish runner-up to a World Champion by only 50 seconds. Mixing it with an athlete of that caliber is a great experience and gives me huge motivation.
ST: How about the rest of the season so far?
Tim: I'm really happy with the season so far, as I mentioned earlier I have steadily improved in my placings, with six podium finishes this year (four 3rds, a 2nd and a win). I’m hoping I can add a few more wins to that list by the end of the Aussie season.
ST: What is on schedule for 2011?
Tim: I haven’t’ committed to anything yet in terms of racing or where I’ll be based, so we will have to see how things shape up!
ST: So is Kona not so much on your mind? It would seem you'd have to go points hunting soon.
Tim: I have not read too much into the new rules! I have heard the talk about getting points! But I'm not doing Kona anytime soon, so I don't really need to worry about earning points!
ST: Any sponsorship news for you?
Tim: I’ve been lucky to retain loyal sponsors in Scody, Cannondale, Newton, Oakley, Bont, Compressport, Science In Sport nutrition, Gordon Street Cycles, Aeromax Coaching and Blue Seventy, and their support has been amazing. I picked up a new sponsor this year with Daikin Australia (Air-conditioning Specialists), whose support has made traveling and living internationally possible, so thanks to Dave Smith and the team.
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Tim: Surely you’re sick of hearing about me by now! Haha… I heart Slowtwitch.
Defending champion Tim Berkel and rising Danish star Jimmy Johnsen are primed to take on the second Challenge Copenhagen set in elegant Danish capital. 8.13.11
Tim Berkel stomped the bike and held off Tim Reed on the run to take the SunSmart Ironman 70.3 Mandurah and with it the Australian Championships. Melissa Hauschildt took the women's title over Liz Blatchford. 10.21.12
Tim Berkel won his second Ironman distance event with a PB 8:07:39 and Rebekah Keat won her first Ironman distance race since 2007 with an impressive 8:54:36 at the inaugural Challenge Copenhagen. 8.15.10
24-year old Aussie Tim Berkel recently captured the 2008 Ironman Western Australia title and earned the distinction to be one of the youngest male Ironman champions in the sport's history. The man also known as "Slim" talked to Slowtwitch.com. 12.12.08