Corinne Abraham is on stage now
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Wed Apr 03 2013
Slowtwitch: Thank you for the chat Corinne.
Corinne Abraham: You’re welcome - I‘ve have enjoyed many an article from the ST site and it is great to be a part of it so thank you!
ST: How much heavier was your gear coming back from Australia?
Corinne: With all of the additional hardware you mean? Well, you know that winning the Asia Pacific Championships automatically qualifies you for a flight upgrade so it wasn’t an issue… Ha-ha! I wish!
ST: Did you have to buy an extra bag?
Corinne: Actually we don’t keep the trophy, it is retained in Melbourne and my name is engraved on it. I’m good with that, fitting it in the overhead lockers might have been bothersome.
ST: Many triathletes seem to be storage space challenged at home because of all that gear. Is that true for you too?
Corinne: Too true. When my boyfriend and I moved out to France last year we lost our garage workshop space and now we have the bikes, turbo, toolboxes, bikes, wetsuits, skis, surfboard, climbing and mountain gear all in the spare bedroom which is thankfully quite large. It’s not quite the same set up but we’re not complaining. If a bike sponsor would like to trouble me with a couple more bikes, we’d absolutely make it work!
ST: We will keep our ear out for you. When you returned was there a big reception for you?
Corinne: Nah, my feet are well and truly on the ground…. Celebratory lunch yesterday was nice though… dessert and everything!
ST: How long were you actually in Australia?
Corinne: I flew out there just over a month before the race. I had contacted a couple of the local triathlon clubs beforehand and asked if there might be someone willing to host me for the build up to the event. The guys at Hawthorn Triathlon, previously called Xtreme Triathlon, kindly forwarded my request to their members and it went from there. Rob, my home stay host, was exceedingly kind and generous and I know that staying with him will have had a positive impact on my pre-race training and race day performance. I am hugely grateful to all of the individuals and families who have ever hosted me and it is difficult to adequately communicate the huge influence that this has had in enabling me to train and race around the world as a professional athlete. They absolutely make it possible.
Corinne: A couple actually, one of which is kind of racing related but I think it still counts! At the awards dinner on the Monday there were three kids who asked me if I was going to Kona, then proudly telling me that their mum was going to Kona and all giggles that they were going to do a run in their underpants. They were pretty cool. Also, after the race we traveled the scenic ocean road together to visit some friends down the coast. We’ve always had good road trips together and this was no exception, koala, ‘roos and snakes were all sighted!
ST: What was your goal going into the race and why had you opted to race Melbourne?
Corinne: I’ve never wanted to be the big fish in the little pond. For me, if I am going to see how good I can be in this sport, how far I can go and how I compare to the best athletes in the world, I need to be there on the start line with them and racing them around the same course. You can’t do that at the lower ranked races and the Championship races will always draw the deeper fields. This was also part of the reason why I raced in Texas and Frankfurt last year. Also, I qualified to race as a professional in Kona last year but made the business decision not to go - largely for financial reasons. This in turn enabled me to start my 2013 Kona qualification with racing in Arizona and Melbourne. The intention being to accumulate early season points and not arrive at the start line in October tired and raced out.
ST: At what point of the race did you think you could actually take the win?
Corinne: Probably about 3k from the finish. I know that might sound fairly late in the game since I was leading from 145km mark on the bike, but I’m a firm believer that the race isn’t over until you cross the finish line. The marathon is a long way and things can come undone very quickly. I just concentrated on making good decisions; hydrating, fueling, running within myself and let the result take care of it’s self.
ST: What went through your head as you approached the finish line?
Corinne: It felt like smiles all over! It is hard to remember what I was thinking but I knew that Rob my boyfriend was going to be there and it was amazing to be able to share it with him.
ST: Did new sponsors step up for you after Melbourne?
Corinne: Well it’s early days, there has been some good interest and now it is a case of following up and getting the communications going! Watch this space…
Corinne: Ja. As a 6 year old with an older sister I wanted to do whatever she did, she went to brownies and I wanted to go to brownies. My parents had other ideas though and thought I should probably do something else and Judo club was on in the hall across the road from brownies and on the same night; so martial arts for me it was! My sister later joined the club and we were in the National Judo squad from our early teen years. I backed off from the Welsh squad trainings when I was studying for my A’Levels but continued to train and compete locally. Later on when I was at university I took up kung-fu and kickboxing and did tai-chi for some years as well.
ST: So could you kick someone’s ass if you needed to?
Corinne: It’s been a while…!
ST: Explain to our readers what your background is.
Corinne: I grew up in mid-Wales (UK) running around the fields, cycling to the local stream for picnics and building dens on the hill with my sisters. My parents took us climbing, canoeing, caving, hiking and generally adventuring whenever they could. They are also keen gardeners so fresh fruit and vegetables were daily diet - it was pretty idyllic really! It really instilled in me not only a healthy and active outlook, but also the adventuring spirit, the ability to look beyond the horizon and work towards something that may have seemed beyond possible.
Following school I studied sport science to M. level at University of Chichester and then took a lecturing post at St Mary’s University in Twickenham lecturing in biomechanics to undergrad and postgraduate students. At the university I also managed one of the vocational degree programs and summer schools for widening participation and improving access to higher education. St Mary’s has had a long-standing involvement in the support of endurance athletes, both from a development and elite standpoint and to work in such an environment is inspiring in its self. Without a doubt my lifetime involvement in sport, through participation, my studies and time in academia, has been an excellent grounding for my late entry into training and racing professionally.
ST: Who or what inspired you to try triathlon and what got you hooked?
Corinne: In 2007 I was encouraged to do London Triathlon by a good friend of mine. At the same time I was ridiculously busy with my work at St Mary’s and although I enjoyed the training and the race it’s self, it was not until I went to watch my new at the time boyfriend do IM Zurich in 2009 that I became aware of the long distance triathlon events. With his encouragement I entered into and trained for IM Regensburg (Germany) in 2010 where I placed 1st AG and 3rd overall female. ‘Accidentally’ qualifying for Kona in the process. I think that it’s fair to say that I was pretty hooked at that point!
ST: Did you go to Kona then?
Corinne: Sure. What an amazing experience! I shared an apartment with Nick Saunders (MPRO at the time) and picked up lots of great advice about training and racing, which has all been very valuable since. Coming into the sport in my 30’s and deciding to race pro, I don’t have time to mess about learning the ropes. I try and get advice from wherever it might be available, to learn from others and avoid making the kind of mistakes that you might make from inexperience. Anyway, Kona; my race wasn’t anything stellar performance wise (10h18, no podium) but I loved the experience and having done it once, I’m looking forward to going back.
Corinne: It ain’t over until it’s over! One of the beautiful things about sport is its unpredictability and the way that the outcome of a race or match can change - usually right up until the last minute, or even seconds. In judo, you could be leading on the scoreboard for 4 minutes and 56 seconds, but a lapse of concentration in those final seconds can find you flat on your back and beaten. Of course the dynamic is different in long distance triathlon but the uncertainty and unpredictability are always there. Also from a training perspective, I’ve learnt that tenacity, perseverance and hard work pay off. Results are seldom immediate and that it helps to have a long term vision and expectations for any progress. Again, going back to judo, there were girls who used to regularly beat me in competition when I was 12 and fighting in the-36kg category - which seems almost unbelievable now, who I would then be beating by the time I was 16 and a not so hefty 48kg. So this taught me that situations can change, you can improve with training and hard work, and that you cannot always predict the result based on previous performances.
ST: So what is next?
Corinne: More training! Race plans are undecided at the moment but it is great to have myself an open calendar for Kona preparations.
ST: Is there anything else we should know?
Corinne: Obviously I’m excited about the race result and what it might lead to in terms of developing the business side of being a professional athlete. It is great to have been able to post the times that I did in the bike and the run, but I know that this is only a stepping stone and there is much work to be done and more improvements that can be made. More exciting times ahead!
You can follow Corinne Abraham on Twitter at @corinneabraham
Spain's Eneko Llanos prevailed against a stacked Aussie field (which also included a tough Belgian), while a new star, Corinne Abraham, shattered a field of top women racers with a superb performance. 3.23.13
Eneko Llanos and Corinne Abraham took the wins at the 2013 Asia Pacific Ironman Championships in Melbourne, Australia and here is our picture gallery from the race. 3.24.13
Maine born and raised Sarah Piampiano left a lucrative job in finance with HSBC to pursue triathlon and she is now fully vested there. Earlier this year she was second at Pucon 70.3 and more recently finished 9th at Ironman Melbourne. 4.01.13