Joe Maloy made history as the first American to win the Noosa Triathlon in Australia, and we had a few words with him about that end-of-season victory.
Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time Joe.
Joe Maloy: Not a problem at all. I’m just glad I found someone to hang out with me!
ST: Congrats on your big win in Noosa. I believe you were the first American male to ever win this race.
Joe: Thanks. Yes, I was the first American, male or female, to win the race. I don't think that's because no American before me was capable of doing it, but rather because we've historically had more non-draft Olympic distance options at home.
ST: How did you decide to race this event?
Joe: A friend of mine on the triathlon circuit, Felicity Sheedy-Ryan, suggested the idea about a month ago. I was already planning on racing the Tongyeong World Cup the weekend before, and I’d heard stories about how much fun there was to be had during Noosa race week. Further investigation told me that it was both a massive athletic event and a massive party- my two favorite things. How could I not go?
ST: Are you much of a party guy?
Joe: Back in the day, “Jersey Joe” was a huge party guy, but “Joe Triathlon” is more about Netflix and chill. No matter the activity, I think it’s important to have fun. If you can’t make the activity fun, then you need to make some time for having fun.
ST: Looking at the field prior to the race, was there anyone you were especially concerned about?
Joe: I wouldn’t use the word “concerned.” I think being “concerned” about your competition implies that you’re worried about them, and that's not the idea. Any time you race a field with guys who have won at the top level of the sport, you know their talents and look forward to the challenge they will present. I was excited to see what facing them would bring out in me.
ST: The swim went well and you were near the front.
Joe: Yeah, I really enjoyed the swim. Previously it was held in the Noosa lagoons, which the locals describe as “nice, but a little sharky.” I even heard a story from Emma Moffat about a sea snake that swam in front of her two or three years ago. The ocean swim was good, and I didn't feel like I was about to get attacked by one of Australia's killer animals. That was a nice bonus!
ST: Did you see any Australian killer animals at any other time?
Joe: Yeah! I saw a big brown snake while walking through the Noosa woods. I also took a stand up paddleboard out to the shark net looking for some action, but they all must’ve known I was coming and hid in the lagoons.
ST: During the bike segment you pulled away, and word has it that you did not want to be the lone American guy in a front pack of all Aussies.
Joe: The word is true! Race officials talked about extending the draft zone from 7 to 12 meters this year, but the drafting rules seemed a little discretionary to me. Even if everyone else was “toeing the line” on the rules, I thought being one of the few non-Australians would make me more apt to get penalized. I decided to be aggressive rather than risk a 3:00 drafting penalty that would have taken me out of contention.
ST: Did anyone try to chase you down?
Joe: I took the lead at about 10K into the bike, and then I’m not sure what happened. I never looked back.
ST: In T2 you had about a 1 minute cushion. Was that what you had hoped for or did you not know what the advantage was?
Joe: I thought I was clear about 20 seconds at the halfway turn, and then the next time gap I got was when they announced I was up a minute at the dismount line. I was surprised at the gap, but I didn't think too much of it. I had put myself in a position to do something special, and my focus was on responding to the demands of the situation.
ST: Did you get splits during the run?
Joe: The fans lining the run course were spectacular. I didn’t pay attention to anything they said, but I fed off their energy. The only time I knew my gap was at the run turnaround, where I gave the chasers a look that said, “You’re not catching me.”
ST: Once you came into the finish chute, it was clear that the win was yours. Were you able to enjoy it or were you delirious?
Joe: I don’t think being delirious and enjoying the moment are mutually exclusive. In this case, they went together.
ST: What did you do after?
Joe: I was amazed at the Aussie hospitality! It was a pretty special atmosphere with nearly 8,000 athletes sharing the town - each of whom faced his/her own challenges to be there. The environment was very much, “When we’re racing it’s on, but once it’s over, it’s over. Let’s have a good time and enjoy the experience.” I think that’s part of what made Noosa such an incredible event. The race itself was serious, but the environment was a celebration of individuals pursuing goals, together. From first to last, every athlete raced to bring out the best in him/herself on the day, and we were all there to help each other accomplish that goal. That’s a really fun process! My post-race activities included cheering other athletes across the line, some drinks and dancing, and then late-night kebabs.
ST: So was it everything you had imagined?
Joe: It was better. I got to watch people of all ages compete in the pre-triathlon races (an ocean swim, a 5K run, and a cycling crit). I also enjoyed a morning open water swim to the race’s floating coffee bar, and met some great people. Oh yeah, there were fireworks, too!
ST: Looking back at 2015, name some of the highs and lows.
Joe: It’s interesting you mention “highs and lows…” This season was a bit of a roller coaster for me, and I did go through some highs and lows. In hindsight, though, the ups (my 16th in Rio and my Noosa win) and downs (struggling to have fun during the spring and being at the University of Alberta Hospital after the Edmonton WTS) have taught me that there really isn’t such a thing as a “high” or a “low.” The highs and lows aren’t part of the process, they are the process. There will be failures anytime you’re challenging yourself, and those failures will suck. If you let them bring you down, though, you’re missing the point. You can’t let them beat you because failing means you’re on the right track. Failure means you’re challenging yourself to grow, and that is the path to success.
ST: So what is next?
Joe: I’m really looking forward to seeing some family and friends during my off season. My buddy Jason is marrying an awesome girl next weekend, and I’m psyched to celebrate with him and Mo. Then I’ll head to the East Coast where I’ll have the opportunity to enjoy time with the family, friends, and sponsors.
ST: How about that Olympic dream?
Joe: The dream doesn’t have a plan. I have an awesome support team, and I’m working with them towards that 2016 Olympic goal.
ST: Anything else we should know?
Joe: I don’t want to go without thanking a few of my sponsors, whose support allows me to keep pursuing my goals and inspiring others to do the same. Andrew and Dani Duggan of Equal Earth have been awesome - helping both financially and emotionally. Dan Dortic from Major Hyundai, who looked me in the eyes way back in 2012 and said, “I’m going to do whatever I can to help you get to the Olympics.” Rob, Ryan, and Jen at ROKA, who support me with the best gear in triathlon. Brady, Dave, Mark, Jack, and Matt from Cadence Cycling, who mailed me the wheels I needed to win Noosa. Mitch Greene, my sports psych who helps me see the forest through the trees. Gino Cinco and the crew at Function Smart Physical Therapy. And also USA Triathlon, Brooks Running, The New York Athletic Club, Brett Jenner from Philly Pro Tri, John and Cortney at fortynine group, Pioneer, my family, and the communities back in Wildwood Crest, NJ, and at Boston College. I’m racing for all of you. I also want to recognize my coach, Paulo Sousa, for giving me an environment with The Triathlon Squad where I can grow as both an athlete and a person. I’m a lucky guy to have too many people to thank in this short space.
I also have some angels watching over me - Melissa Rogers and Douggie Raucci. Your memory reminds me to live with intention and passion, and I know I keep a little of you both alive when I’m out there doing my thing.
The bloody nose picture is not from an encounter in with killer animals in Australia, but ... (you may fill in that sentence below with a Facebook comment)
You can follow Joe Maloy on twitter via @joetriathlon