Cameron Brown is once again focused on the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman New Zealand and this soft spoken Kiwi has virtually owned this race and taken the title there on 10 occasions. We had a few words with this great athlete who will turn 42 this June.
Slowtwitch: It is good to hear from you.
Cam Brown: Great to talk with you Herbert
ST: In addition to racing, what have you been up to the last few months?
Cam: I’ve just been busy training hard for Ironman New Zealand, it’s the 30th anniversary of the race so it’s going to be a great week looking back at the history and seeing who’s come back to race after all these years. Also just busy with the family and my boys sport (BMX, trampolining, triathlon, swimming and mountain biking) so there’s not much time for any down time.
ST: If you had down time, how would you fill it?
Cam: Usually by doing nothing! Just totally relaxing and just spending time with the family, plus a few sleep in’s!
ST: You mentioned Ironman New Zealand and it is almost upon us.
Cam: Yeah it’s getting very close now and I’m in taper mode and trying to rest up. It will be a great week with lots of things going on in Taupo pre-race.
ST: Does getting ready for another season as a Pro Triathlete feel a bit like being in the movie Groundhog Day.
Cam: I was watching that movie again during the Christmas holidays and sometimes the training does feel like that but I couldn’t imagine doing a kiwi summer without doing Ironman New Zealand. I love training at home over our summer time and would be pulling my hair out if I couldn’t do it! I also love travelling every year to different races and seeing the world, it’s been a pretty amazing job - over 26 years now. I don’t want to get a real job yet! Hopefully a few more years left in this body.
ST: I think I have known you know for about 18 of those 26 years.
Cam: Back in the days when you looked after me at Litespeed as their sponsorship manager.
ST: Man that was so long ago.
Cam: Yes nearly 15years ago, a few less grey hairs!
ST: And you have been with Avanti a few years now.
Cam: This is my 5th year riding Avanti, their head office is only 5km down the road so it’s great to have them so close to me. My first triathlon bike when I was 16 years old was an Avanti super sprint back in 1988 so they have been around along time.
ST: What do you think you will be doing once you are calling it a day in teems of racing as a Pro?
Cam: I would love to stay involved in the sport either as a coach or just working in the industry, you have to find something to fulfill that gap. Hopefully I can keep doing this for a few more years!
ST: Your boys are reported to be heavily involved in BMX racing. Do you enjoy seeing them active and competitive?
Cam: It’s great that they love sport! They have the New Zealand BMX Champs in 6 weeks time so there busy training for that, we had the World BMX championships in Auckland last year - which they competed in. It was indoors and it was incredible. Braeden [12yrs] has the Auckland Triathlon champs in two weeks time so he’s training for that plus mountain biking while Josh [10yrs] has BMX, trampoline, swimming, soccer to get ready for so we are busy every day after school taking them to training.
ST: Did you do some BMX racing when you were their age?
Cam: No none at all, although every kid in NZ had a BMX bike including me and we would go down to the local track and muck around. But I never raced - the sport has really grown here since it has become an Olympic sport.
ST: Clearly BMX racing isn’t just for kids. Have you tried it more recently?
Cam: No it’s pretty scary, I just stick to the mountain biking as it’s a little safer!
ST: Do you see them eventually wanting to step in dad’s footsteps?
Cam: We just let them do what they want to do, and try not to be pushy parents! I’d love to see them eventually compete in triathlons as a full time sport but at the moment they enjoy just doing everything.
ST: Looking at the younger generations of Kiwi triathletes, is there anyone in particular we need to keep an eye out on the long course?
Cam: Terenzo Bozzone is the real deal but there’s a big gap after him. It’s also the same in the Olympic distance with no one really stepping into the foot steps of Hamish Carter just yet. Hopefully in the near future someone will come through soon.
ST: What about Tony Dodds and Ryan Sissons?
Cam: Yes they are the only two at the moment but after those two there’s a big drop off.
ST: You finished 6th at the 70.3 Asia Pacific Champs in a very competitive field. Were you surprised by the depth of that field?
Cam: It was a great field, we had about 20 Aussie pros on the start line so that makes it tough plus Jan Frodeno the 2008 Olympic Champion, 5x World Champion Craig Alexander and Former World Champions Bevan Docherty and Terenzo Bozzone.
ST: Talk about your race.
Cam: I had a pretty good swim and came out with Craig Alexander, Tim Berkel and Tim Reed, we were about 40 seconds down off the front pack and tried catching them over the first 40km. We got within 15seconds before they surged again and we ended up coming off the bike about 1:40 down. Tim Reed took off like a rabbit chasing and Crowie followed, it took me a while to get the engine started but I slowly started reeling the guys in and caught Crowie and then Tim back up and the we then started catching the guys that were dropping off from the main pack. With 5km to go I was 5th running with Tim and we were really starting to gain back some time. In the end Tim got me in the sprint but I was extremely happy to get 6th in that field. I was only 46 seconds down on 2nd place and catching the boys in front so it was pleasing to see the form is there for Ironman New Zealand and running a 1:12hr for the 21km. I had my worst ever season last year after being sick for most of the season, I decided to cut my season short and had 7 weeks off in September last year doing nothing and it has worked wonders with my comeback. I feel refreshed and motivated again for a big 2014.
ST: What is the next big target after Ironman New Zealand?
Cam: At the moment all I’m thinking about is Ironman New Zealand, on Sunday morning after the race I’ll start planning what’s next!
ST: Is Kona still heavy on your mind?
Cam: I’d love to head back there again but will just see how March 1st goes first!
ST: You had 5 top 5 finishes and 2 runner-up spots at the Ironman World Championships. That is clearly impressive, but are there any thoughts of one having gotten away?
Cam: I had some fantastic races there from 2001(2nd) 2002(3rd) 2003(3rd) 2005(2nd) 2006(8th) and then a 5th (2008) but there hasn’t been much success in the past few years. Probably one of my best races was in 2008 when I was riding well but punctured with 60km to go, I had to ride on a slow leaking tubular for the next 45km before finally getting a wheel change near the airport, I ran up to 3rd and then slowly died a slow death, that puncture had just taken too much out of my legs. I’ve either been injured or sick on race day since 2009 so it’s been a frustrating few years to say the least. I know I still have a good one in me and would love to go back and give it one more shot.
ST: How much more competitive are the fields now compared to when you started?
Cam: There are more professionals that’s for sure and the races keep getting quicker and quicker with the ITU boys switching to 70.3 and Ironman’s but the old guard are still going pretty well when you consider there age, all over 40! Like Craig Alexander, Chris McCormack, Ritchie Cunningham, I think I’m the oldest at 41(42 in June) I never thought I would still be racing as a pro at that age.
ST: All well with your sponsors?
Cam: Yes I have a fantastic group looking after me with Ignite architects, 2XU, Avanti bikes, Suzuki, Fuelbelt, Oakley, Schwalbe tires, Token wheels, Balance nutrition, Vital Greens, Keywin pedals, Vision aero bars, Nike, Fizik.
ST: Which Fizik saddle are you riding currently? Because I believe when I last saw your bike you had a Selle SMP Stratos.
Cam: I’ve been trying the new Fizik Arione Versus VS and loving it
ST: Any other thoughts?
Cam: Wishing everyone a great 2014.