Norseman bound Bjorn Andersson
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Mon Jun 25 2012
Slowtwitch: Well Bjorn, thanks for your time.
Bjorn: Thanks for the interview Herbert, always a pleasure to talk to slowtwitch.
ST: Should we call you Bjorn or BjŲrn?
Bjorn It is BjŲrn in Swedish, but I use Bjorn when I'm abroad sometimes just because it's easier. Seriously though, it doesn't really matter to me.
ST: It has actually been quite a while since we last chatted - at least officially that is.
Bjorn: Yes, I canít remember when but it must have been several years ago.
ST: Hmmm, it appears the last interview with you was in
March of 2008. So that is indeed way too long of a break.
Bjorn: That long? Amazing how quickly time goes by.
ST: You have quite some trying times behind you.
Bjorn: Iíd lie if I say itís been the absolute best time of my life but itís all part of the game so no complaints. I have had some really good times during that period as well so it was far from all bad.
ST: Was the Jason Goldberg saga the worst of it?
Bjorn: On a professional level definitely. My dad was diagnosed with cancer during the same time though, and passed away a little later in the spring of 2010, so there was a lot of stuff going on at the same time. Seeing someone else deal with far worse problems than I did kind of put things in perspective, and kept me from feeling too sorry for myself over just some lost money and sponsors.
I also have to say that a big part of the Jason thing was my own fault as I should have been more proactive overall. I should also have kept the relation I had already established with my sponsors more active instead of handing everything over to an agent. But of course everything is easy in retrospect...
ST: It is of course also easy for other folks to tell you what you should have done.
Bjorn: Absolutely, and sometimes itís hard to sort through all the Ēgood adviceĒ you get when youíre in the middle of a situation as well. Itís always good to get input from the outside but the difficult part is knowing what to listen to.
Bjorn: Yes, though I had decided not to continue to compete in the same way this year as before I really missed racing and decided to do a few events. Unfortunately I feel like Iím not completely recovered after last year still so I stopped the further plans I had.
ST: And before then?
Bjorn: I did Tristar Mallorca a few weeks prior but crashed on the slippery Spanish roads early in the bike ride so I had to wait until Austria to find out how much I actually sucked.
ST: Talk to us about your current training and fitness.
Bjorn: My training has not been working at all for a while and consequently my fitness is well below par. 2010 was the last year I had a decent season. It was far from perfect but I had some good results, with a 3rd at the European 70.3 championships behind Michael Raelert and Sebastian Kienle probably being the best. I was cautiously optimistic after that and went all in towards the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in 2011 which is where most of the problems I have now originated. I got pretty sick during the night after that race, probably due to a heat stroke, and couldnít eat or drink anything whatsoever with my body temp going through the roof. I then entertained all the passengers on the flight home by passing out and falling backwards in the aisle in front of everyone and continued to have serious problems for about a week. After that I kept getting sick when trying to train and race. Most likely because I tried to get back into it a bit early which in turn probably pushed me over the edge.
Anyway, the last straw was later during the summer after finishing 6th at Challenge Aarhus feeling oddly sick and lethargic during the race. It kept getting worse afterwards, and except for some lame attempts at training I couldnít do anything for about 5-6 weeks. I then resumed training for two weeks and tried to do Challenge Copenhagen, whom I had a contract with, before going to the hospital for testing. The tests revealed I had traces left of pneumonia that had gone untreated for almost two months so with that in mind it was probably a small miracle I actually managed to lead in Copenhagen until 23km into the run. But anyway, after that I felt I had run out of options in triathlon. Body was not working and I would have needed a good season to secure sponsors after the previous issues.
Bjorn: That is correct. Itís perfect timing for me to do a slightly more laid back event and see if I can regain some of my fitness until then. I love that race but I have no expectations result wise this time except maybe getting through it in one piece.
ST: I guess the weather can only be better this time around.
Bjorn: Well, itís difficult to imagine it could be much worse anyway. Those conditions suit me really well though, but unfortunately race organizations seem to compete over holding races in the hottest, most humid and miserable locations around the world. And if it is a little cold and wet itís canceled or shortened anyway.
ST: That isn't the case at Norseman though. Last year when the swim was cold it was moved a bit, but that added 20k to the bike segment. Is that what attracts you?
Bjorn: Normally Iíd be extremely happy with any race adding distance to the bike but in this case 180km actually feels quite enough as it is. I do like that they donít take the easy way out and cancel or shorten the race easily but the main attraction for me is the location and format of the race. Itís something different - which in this case is very positive.
ST: It has been 7 years since that cold snowy day on Gaustatoppen, but that record is still standing. What do you think is possible?
Bjorn: If someone fast shows up I think under 10h easily. When I did it the bike was 190km instead of 180km so thatís 15min already. And even if the cold suits me, I too would have been faster if it was a little warmer. Lastly, despite this being one of the few times I have run ok, I lost major time during the last 5km off road section because of the snow storm and slippery conditions.
ST: Which bike will you be riding?
Bjorn: If nothing unexpected happens a Scott Plasma 3.
Bjorn: If the goal is to go as fast as possible, yes. For that type of steady state climbing below threshold, thereís no reason a TT bike should be slower than a road bike if set up correctly and fully adapted to it. If you have to change pace and respond to attacks a road bike is of course far better but that should never be the case in draft free triathlon. The aerodynamic gains with a TT bike and position also far outweigh any weight penalty compared to a road bike because of the many fast sections of the course.
ST: Tim DeBoom rode a road bike last year and won. Do you think he would have been faster on a TT bike? Or is that really depending on the athlete?
Bjorn: Haha. Well, I would of course never question the choice of one of the best long course triathletes in the history of the sport but I do think a full TT set up is the quickest on this course. Tim was very smart in his equipment choice though, using an aero road bike with good wheels and set up for a good position, so he was probably not giving up much at all.
ST: Do you have any sponsor news?
Bjorn: Not any good news - unfortunately. Itís been a bit rough after everything went down with Jason in combination with my own lack of results last year. I do have to give big props to R&A Cycles who have always been extremely supportive of me no matter what kind of mess I have gotten myself into. Also HED Cycling has always been very helpful so thanks a lot guys!
ST: Anything else we ought to know?
Bjorn: Just a shameless plug of my website for coaching services; www.bjornandersson.se
Bjorn Andersson rode a Hotta bike at Ironman 70.3 California at Oceanside and Devashish Paul snapped a few pics of that old school ride. 4.03.13
Tim DeBoom won the 2011 Norseman Extreme Triathlon in 11:18:47 and with a relatively comfortable margin over Markus Stierli. Susanne Buckenlei grabbed her 3rd title in course record time despite the distance being longer. 8.06.11
We just got our hands on the official 2011 Norseman video and it has some super impressive footage. But we are not only talking about the beautiful landscape and the athletic achievements but also the unique video perspectives. 8.26.11