The confident Clayton Fettell
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Thu Dec 15 2011
Slowtwitch: Nice race in Busselton.
Clayton: Thank mate. It was a windy day out there, but those were the ideal conditions for my race plan.
ST: What was your plan?
Clayton: To go and get it from the start, not hold back, not be conservative with energy and hope that that was going to be enough to get me to the finish line first. I knew that I could lead the swim out and hopefully manage to break away from the rest of the pack at some stage during the 3.8km. With the bike I knew that I had to take it head on and either hold or extended my lead to have a buffer zone between myself and the Ďrunnersí who would be coming after me. And then for the run: survive.
ST: You scored the win a few weeks ago at 70.3 Port Macquarie, so now how does this second place result at Western Australia compare?
Clayton: I was aiming to make it two from two so the 2nd place was a mild disappointment, although having given 110% from the gun going off, putting it all on the line leading the swim and the bike in a solo drive, I proved to myself that I can roll with the big guns in this sport. My efforts in Busselton meant to me, that my dream of one day winning Kona is not unachievable.
ST: We like your confidence, because if you don't believe in it, it will not happen.
Clayton: Training & racing doesnít just involve the body. You need to train your mind like you do your body. If you donít believe in yourself, who else will? People think Iím arrogant but itís actually confidence and belief in myself. I have taken many steps towards improving my mental state over the past year. Identifying and addressing a mental weakness can become one of your greatest strengths. Right now I am in the best headspace Iíve ever been; the will must be stronger than the skill.
ST: Did you know that Timo Bracht was coming?
Clayton: After really struggling through the 2nd lap of the run I knew it was a matter of time before Timo was going to close in on me. I was hearing splits out on the course that my lead was dwindling and all I could think of was this is Ironman- itís not over until you cross the line. I told myself; this is the day I could be Macca in Kona 2010 and I was banking on Timo (aka Andres) finding that big wall during his 3rd lap and for me to find that final gear. To his credit, Timo held consistent through the final kilometers of the run to take the win.
Clayton: I put my hand out and we shook hands and he said; ďCímon Clayton, 2nd place is yours.Ē That however was the motivation I needed to still fight for the win.
ST: How long did you stay with him after those words?
Clayton: I let him go. If I choose to maintain my speed and not do anything stupid like trying to match Timo, I was likely that I could at least hold on for 2nd, if not able to regain the lead with the chance that he had outrun himself to bridge the gap. You never know!!
ST: It appears that your first Ironman distance event was this summer at Challenge Cairns. What did you learn?
Clayton: I realized that this was where my heart was meant to be. The style of iron-distance racing is what I was born to do and where my strengths are greatly emphasized. The camaraderie between ironman athletes is completely different compared to that of the short course racing I used to do. You are completely exposed and thereís nowhere to hide, especially if you are having a bad day. However everyone out there understands this as at some stage or another it will be you having that bad
ST: We understand you liked the result better in Busselton, but how did the events themselves compare?
Clayton: Busselton is flat, fast, hot and windy. Compared to Cairns it exposes you much more to the humid heat. It was much more of a mental battle as thereís not a lot of scenery to distract you from your pain, unlike Cairns. Both races attract world class line-ups for their own reasons; Cairns being a Ďdestinationí race being near the great barrier reef and a hefty prize purse and Busselton potentially being a fast course, good Kona points and you can never fault the Ironman (WTC) level of event organization.
ST: Is Abu Dhabi Tri next for you?
Clayton: Abu Dhabi is my next intended international race. My next three months it will be the sole focus of my training.
ST: Why Abu Dhabi? Does that race suit your style or do you enjoy the exotic location?
Clayton: The distances of the race is definitely weighted towards my strengths: the swim, the long bike in tough conditions, shorter run and the mental battle of the 2.5loops in the wind, the heat and the desert. The location will be interesting. I have a brother who lives in Dubai so it will be a good opportunity for me to see him and for him to come and watch me in action.
Clayton: For 2012 Kona is the A1 race. However, in saying that, I still want to remain a versatile athlete. I will still endeavor to dabble in the Olympic and halves as there are benefits of racing multiple distances as they each serve their own purpose but also the skill of one is always advantageous for the others.
ST: With all those solid results, have you been getting more attention by sponsors?
Clayton: I think with my style of racing, that is, trying to lead for as long as I can, I tend to be in the spot light for large portions of the races I compete in. All though I might not actually win the race I am usually one of the ones getting the most airplay. So in saying this and with the help of Naomi from Amped sports management, sponsors are starting to take notice and fortunately new offers have been rolling in.
ST: Is there any particular area where you still need help with sponsors?
Clayton: At present I have a great support network and a wonderful manager. With a big year ahead planned abroad I am looking forward to hopefully branching out into the US market of sponsorship.
ST: Where did you grow up?
Clayton: I grew up in a small country town called Alstonville. Itís 15km from the coast in the northern New South Wales hinterland.
ST: What brought you to the sport of triathlon?
Clayton: When I was 9 years old my mum and dad entered me into the Lennox Head triathlon, the distances being 300/10/3. After overcoming my first bout of race day nerves I couldnít get enough of the sport. In amongst playing competitive national water polo I also managed to juggle my progression into the North Coast academy of sport in the field of triathlon.
ST: Anything else we should know?
Clayton: The biggest turning point in my life to date has been approaching a lifelong friend, Grant Giles from Aeromaxteam Coaching, and putting my triathlon career in his capable hands. Not only has he changed my outlook on life in general, but my appreciation and hunger for my sport. In addition, none of this would be possible without the support of my wonderful sponsors; Skoda, Vorgee, Blue Seventy, Newton, SIS, Cannibal, Byron Bay Fish market, FSA & Teschner bikes.
Clayton Fettell is currently getting ready to defend his title at the Geelong Triathlon and then it is almost time for Ironman Melbourne. He talks about that and more in a video chat with slowtwitch. 1.28.13
A lethal swim and bike combo allowed Clayton Fettell to take the title of the 2012 Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie in 3:50:15. Britta Martin took the win in the women's race in 4:32:26. 10.27.12
About 10 days ago Timo Bracht added another title to his already impressive resume with the win at the Sunsmart Ironman Western Australia. He talked to slowtwitch about that race, Kona and his plans for the future. 12.13.11
Timo Bracht passed Clayton Fettell with 10k to go and Michelle Bremer took the lead in the first 40k of the bike to win the menís and womenís titles at Ironman Western Australia. 12.03.11