Patrick Vernay has 5 Ironman titles to his name and has cracked the top 10 in Hawaii twice now. That is a pretty impressive achievement for someone who has to juggle pro racing, a family and a part time teaching job.
ST: Patrick, your repeated this year as the winner of Ironman Australia. But among all your events what result do you cherish the most?
Patrick: I won five Ironman events but each one was different. It’s hard to say what my feelings were at those moments. But if I had to choose one I would say last year in Busselton (Australia) because I really didn’t expect to win.
ST: What is on your race schedule this season?
Patrick: After Roth it will be Kona, the most important race for me, and the main event for Ironman athletes. After that perhaps Busselton in December as a defending Champion but it’s not sure for the moment.
ST: Do you actually reside in New Caledonia and if so how are the training conditions there, plus the logistics to get to races?
Patrick: Yes I live in New Caledonia. I was born there but I went to France for my studies when I was eighteen. During this time I used to practice triathlon and I really improved when I was in Montpellier. In New Caledonia the weather is very beautiful during the whole year. We have a tropical climate and we have no winter, only a fresh season with temperatures always between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius. So you can train there all year very well. The only issue I have is with cycling there because we always have to ride the same courses. But it doesn’t matter; you only have to be strong in your head.
ST: What is your athletic background and who or what inspired you to race triathlons?
Patrick: My father began to race when I was 15th and I decided to follow his way. I used to practice sport at school but nothing particularly.
ST: Please describe a typical hard training week for us.
Patrick: When I’m on holiday (I actually work part time as a sport teacher with teenagers between 12 and 15 years old) I can train hard and have weeks with 40 hours training. It consists of 800 km biking, 95 km running and 25 km swimming. But I have only four or five weeks like that during the year. Usually I have weeks with 32 hours training.
ST: So do you even have an off-season/ time off?
Patrick: Each year is different. Two years ago I had a son and I had to help my wife look after him. The year after we went to see my wife’s parents in France and as it was in winter it was a bit difficult to train. Last year we bought a new house and we spent our time painting, and lots of other things very different from triathlon. But usually I have a break for only ten days or two weeks.
ST: If you could change anything about the sport of triathlon, what would it be?
Patrick: Ironman distance should be present in the Olympic Games .
ST: How are things going for you in terms of sponsorship?
Patrick: You can’t imagine how it’s difficult in New Caledonia. They don’t see the difference between International Athletes and local ones. That’s why I have to work part time as a sport teacher. Fortunately thanks to my last victories on Ironman distance, I managed to get very interesting materials sponsors like Look, Asics and Zipp. My team Beauvais in France, a bank in New Caledonia (Caisse d’Epargne) and Goro Nickel (a factory which will produce nickel very soon) help me with my trips and to get the money I loose as I only work part time.
ST: Do you follow any other sports?
Patrick: I have no time for this actually and I just read the newspaper to follow all sports results, excepted football, golf, tennis.
ST: Can you share with us some of your food likes and dislikes?
Patrick: I eat everything but I really love chocolate. I like eating hamburgers and French fries even three days before a race.
ST: What about music? Anything you listen to more often?
Patrick: Actually I don’t have much time for this. I only listen to music on the radio in the car when I go to work or when I go to swim.
ST: What was the last book you read?
Patrick: I have no time to read really. I just read books for my child, just before he goes to sleep my wife and I read him a short story.
ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Patrick: Still in New Caledonia, working as a sport teacher or coaching athletes after wining a few more prestigious races until then.
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Patrick: Well, it’s more and more difficult to go and train when your son asks you to stay and play with him. Plus my wife is pregnant again and we will have another son just before Kona. So it will be more and more difficult but my wife really helps me and I know I’ll be able to succeed in several races again.
Patrick Vernay's site is right here (in French)