XTERRA Pro Will Kelsay is racing the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships in Oak Mountain State Park Alabama this weekend and we had a chat with him to see what he is up to and if he is ready.
Slowtwitch: Thanks for your time Will.
Will: Totally my pleasure. I absolutely love talking about this new style of racing and what it could all mean for the future of off-road triathlon.
ST: It seems you got here early to check out the course and the local culture.
Will: Wouldn’t miss it! I love this race. The people, the course, the south is just good olde fun. I’ve had the same homestay for the past 5 years named Jerry and he’s total hoot. We are laughing nonstop with all his “Jerry-isms.”
ST: Any thoughts on the bike course here at Oak Mountain State Park?
Will: This is one of my favorite courses in the country. The trail system that’s been developed in Oak Mountain State Park is stellar. Anyone who enjoys mountain biking or trail running would love these trails. With the new lap style of racing (for the pros), it’s really important to learn the course inside out, forward and backwards. It’s a very tight windy single track that is nonstop turning. Knowing as many of the turns as you can, exactly what tire pressure to run, when to eat, when to pass, even when to blow a snot rocket, is going to be key to gaining those valuable seconds. If you can’t ride a mountain bike, it’s gonna show. This ain’t no dirt road racing.
ST: Hard tail or full suspension?
Will: I rock the full squishy 29er. Absolutely love it. The 29er rolls over everything and the full suspension gives me the confidence to attack any obstacle head on. I also feel that the full suspension helps to save the legs a bit for the run. It’s worth the extra weight.
ST: Last year I think you did not start at the ITU Cross Worlds. Why this year?
Will: Last year I missed qualifying for the 2011 team by 9 seconds. I was bummed I couldn’t join the boys in Spain, so when I had the opportunity to do it on one of my fav courses, I was all over it.
ST: How has your training been going so far this season?
Will: Absolutely breakthrough. I’ve been training with a new coach and a new group of guys now for just over a year and a half and the results are starting to show. I had an early start to the race season in March with XTERRA Guam, XTERRA Philippines, XTERRA Saipan, and the Tagaman Triathlon, and really feel that I’ve got all my ducks in a row now after that. I’ve quite excited to see what the solid physical and mental training is going to produce this coming weekend.
ST: For obvious reasons many eyes will be on Conrad Stoltz. Are you glad that the attention is not on you, or do you think you would do ok with that kind of pressure?
Will: I think I would quite enjoy that pressure. When you have been doing this as long as he has (or at least this is what I tell myself), you develop an immense confidence in your abilities. If I was in his shoes, I would see every race as an opportunity to challenge myself to perform the way I know I can and see if I can push it step further. Being out front, and having that bull’s eye on your back, can usually facilitate making that next step forward.
ST: Looking back at 2011, what would you consider the highlight?
Will: Definitely my Triple 6 adventure. I was fortunate enough to get to do 6 XTERRA Triathlons in 6 weeks in 6 countries around the world. USA, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, and Canada. There are so many stories and photos from that trip, I could write a short novel.
ST: Ready to make this race your 2012 high light?
Will: It’s only the tip of the ice berg! I’ve got my eyes on the podium for this race, and several others. I also have trips back to Mexico and Japan in the works. They were so much fun last year, such rich experiences, that I want to do it all over again.
ST: Anything else we should know?
Will: Hey kids - Stay in milk. Don’t do school. Drink a glass of drugs a day…. Or something like that…
One quote that is quickly becoming one of my favorites and I hope everyone can take to heart is – “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”