Fast riding Mitch Anderson

Mitchell Anderson is known to be among the fastest cyclists in the sport of triathlon and he has shown on several occasions that he can deliver all 3 goods. He finally is focusing on the sport of triathlon full time and that may worry some of his competitors.

ST: Mitch, can you talk about your 2007 season and how it went for you?

Mitch: I had a very busy year in 2007, trying to cope with a full time job as a medical intern where I could work up to ninety hours per week, and was sent for three months at a time to far flung country centers like Wangaratta and Horsham, plus put enough runs on the board to keep my sponsors happy. It was not easy on my body, my mind or my marriage!!
I raced only two IM- Australia and West Australia, where I had an average day in the former (4th at Port Mac) and a stellar day at the latter (3rd, in 8h 12m). I rate my WA as my best effort since winning there in 2005. I rode a 4h 20m bike split then dipped under the 3 hour marathon mark. This gave me more courage to pursue triathlon full time in 2008 and beyond.

ST: What is on schedule for you for 2008?

Mitch: I've already raced the Geelong 70.3, where I finished second to former duathlon world champion Leon Griffin. In the pipeline I've got:

IM Australia April
½ IM WA May
IM Japan June
Singapore 70.3 or ½ IM Gold Coast
Kona October
IM WA December

Should be a busy year, with four IM planned. My blue ribbon races are Australia and WA. I'll aim for Kona as my banner race for 2009.

ST: Can you describe a typical mid season training week for you?

Mitch: OK…this is a bit tough, because I have never been a full time athlete until this year! This is what I'm doing now to prepare for IM Australia: 5-6 swims/5-6 bikes/5-6 runs, where the goal for each heavy week is to crack 20 swimming, 500 biking and 100 running. The long bike is 200+ and long run 28-34km. The body seems to be holding up pretty well so far. Previously, I just tried to hit the main long sessions and whatever I had in the diary by the end of the week was a bonus!

ST: How were you fit to your bike? Did anyone help you, or did you find the position?

Mitch: I have made it a work in progress, because I firmly believe that as your body changes, your set-up should change too. I've modeled my current set-up on comfort rather than extremity, as I seem to be able to develop a good amount of power for my weight, without having to get out of the saddle often for comfort. I tried a bit in the wind tunnel early this year, but need to wait until later in the year for this to pay dividends…I actually just did baseline testing. Anthony from CBD Cycles has looked over my position a couple of times to make sure there's nothing alarming to fix.

ST: Would you describe for us how you recover from an Ironman race?

Mitch: MMMMMM….beer! Kidding, it is good to let your hair down for a week or two, but I don't have any more time off than that. I will do an unstructured fortnight after that if I don’t have any races pending. That said, I usually try to schedule a couple of races close together (i.e. Hawaii and IM WA) because it gives you more bang for your training buck being able to do a 3 week ramp up and down for the extra race.

ST: Do you train with anyone on a regular basis?

Mitch: Absolutely, it's the reason I have based myself in Melbourne, Australia for 2008. I get out with the same people I've been training with for the last fifteen years most weekends. They've all got kids and beer guts now (!). I do some work with the 'real' pro's when they're back in town- Luke Bell, Simon Gerrans (euro cyclist)…but mostly it's the old school age-groupers like Damien Angus, Tom Rickards and Sam Hume. These guys rip- they've all done IM P.R. in the 8:40's and finished 2nd in their respective categories in Hawaii.

ST: Do you have an off-season at all, and if so, what do you do during that time?

Mitch: No real off-season…maybe next year I'll try and have a month off in May. I'd like to go to Antibe in the south of France if I had a couple of weeks…but most probably I'd elect to a bit of training if I was on the beach! Otherwise I like staying at home for a few days and riding down to the coffee shop with my wife for a few long machiatos and eggs on toast.

ST: What sports did you take part when you grew up?

Mitch: I did all sports where I grew up in Geelong- I rowed, ran cross country, life saving, cycled, Aussie rules football, roller bladed and swam. I didn’t really excel at any one sport, but always knew I could endure more than most.

ST: What or who inspired you to race triathlons?

Mitch: Actually an ex-girlfriend and Damien Angus. Jane got me into triathlon when I got to Melbourne University in 1994. She and I went and did some 300/8/3 mini-tri and I came second off the bat. I realized I might be good at the caper. I would never have done Ironman had Damien not said to me in 1999, "you've just run the Melbourne Marathon, there's no reason why you can't come and do Forster in 6 months!!" So I gave it a go, and did a 9h7m first effort, again 2nd in my age-group. I was absolutely hooked!

ST: What is your favorite race and why?

Mitch: I love racing in Australia (WA or Port MacQuarie) but Kona is the big one. It's the biggest show on earth and has a mystique that no other race can generate. It also has the capacity to be many different things on any given day- fast, slow, hard or…hard! WA is a cracker course and super fast, with the added bonus of the wine region down south for the week after!

ST: What is going on for you in terms of sponsorships?

Mitch: A lot is going on my friend!!! I have Giant as my main backer, but also receive strong support from my other banner sponsors-,, Nuun, Cannibal, Puma and Shotz Nutrition. Everyone has stepped up to the plate to help me go full time this year and I hope I can repay their kindness with some great results over the next few years.

ST: Do you follow any other sports?

Mitch: Yes, I love Cycling, Australian Rules football, Cricket, Soccer…actually now you mention it I love most sports. I'm lucky to be a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club, so I get to go to one of the best and biggest sports grounds in the world. There's nothing like rolling up to a match with 100 000 people screaming and yelling their lungs out! If only triathlon were that popular…

ST: What is your favorite and least favorite food?

Mitch: Favorite food is salt and pepper fried snapper at a superb Melbourne restaurant 'Longrain'. I could eat almost anything though…
Probably my least favorite food is any combination of meat with fruit- chicken and apricot, ham steak with pineapple…I'm just not into sweet fruit with meat, thank you very much!

ST: Do you have a favorite band or artist?

Mitch: Yep, plenty. Right now I've got a few favorites in my thumps- AC/DC, Kanye West, Razorlight, Audioslave, A Tribe Called Quest, Beck and Bernard Fanning.

ST: What was the last book you read?

Mitch: Orpheus Lost…a bit of a spy/espionage set in Australia and the US. The best book I have read recently though was a book called Freakonomics. It's an examination of statistics by a US economist, but totally off the wall. It really panders to someone like me who wants evidence for everything and anything!

ST: Where do you think you'll be in 5 years?

Mitch: I really hope I'm just putting the finishing touches on my pro triathlon career. I look at someone like Jason Shortis as a benchmark for the way you can perform into your late thirties. The guy opened a can of whip ass on me in WA last year…posting an 8h03! I really think I'm going to get better over the next couple of years as a full time pro, especially my swimming and running.

ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?

Mitch: I'm currently a cycling widower, as my wife (Bridie O’Donnell) has gone away with the Australian Team as the National TT champion on the road. She's hoping to make the Olympic team for Beijing, and will be living and competing out of Italy. Worst case scenario is racing the World Championship in September (she has pre-qualified), so it's a big year for her too! We're hoping to make a posse of pro cyclists when we settle down!

Check out my brand new website, which will have heaps of photo's, articles and updates at Port MacQuarie in race week.