Cameron Brown finished five times in the top 5 at the IRONMAN World Championships in Hawaii, and that includes two runner-up spots. He returns to Kona again this year but with a new mindset.
Slowtwitch: Cameron, thank you so much for your time.
Cameron Brown: Always a pleasure talking with you Herbert.
ST: I saw on social media that you are currently in Noosa Heads, Australia to get ready for the big show. Why Noosa Heads and how much longer until you leave for Hawaii?
Cameron: I've done many of my Kona build-ups here and the Gold Coast. New Zealand weather is pretty bad at this time of the year as it just rains so much and is only around 15-18c. The training here is great, amazing pools, trails and roads. I'm here for three more days and then home for two and on to Hawaii.
ST: Will you ship yourself via Amazon?
Cameron: Ha ha, hopefully there is an increase in sponsorship and prize money with Amazon coming on board. It would be nice to see the top 20-30 athletes earn prize money.
ST: That would be nice to see, wouldn’t it?
Cameron: Yes it would be nice to see an all around increase. I remember in 1986 at IRONMAN New Zealand the total prize money was $50,000, this years race in Taupo was $60,000. It really should be $150,000-200,000 for each IRONMAN race.
ST: You are looking ripped and ready. Do you also feel that way?
Cameron: The training has gone well and I've done some big mileage and stripped off a few kilos. Hopefully the next few weeks I'll freshen up and start to feel really good.
ST: Someone asked you recently about your bike and run fueling strategy, and you answered “most of the time it involves a pie and coke stop.” I think there are some options along those lines on the way to and from Hawi.
Cameron: If I ride for 5-6 hours I always stop for a pie and coke in NZ or Australia, sometimes you just want real food instead of gels. Race day is different but when you have been in this sport for over 32 years you need to enjoy it as we suffer enough in training. I have a sweet tooth and enjoy my food but still eat healthy as well.
ST: What for example would you take with you on the bike in Kona and what do you grab from the aid stations
Cameron: I use my own gels and drinks, and I'll pick up special needs at Hawi with another 2 bottles plus a bottle of coke.
ST: How has your preparation for Kona evolved over the years?
Cameron: I've always been a big mileage person as it has worked many, many times but it's not all just miles, some hard tempo speed work is always in there. My recovery rate isn't the same like 10-15 years ago so I usually space out my hard days a lot more and when I feel good I go for it. But if I haven't recovered from the day before then it is into recovery mode.
ST: Do you feel pressure and if so how do you deal with it?
Cameron: Not this time around, I'm going into it with a different attitude. If I do well that would be fantastic, but it's all about being happy with my performance on the day. I've had some great races and some shit ones and with the new qualification system coming in next year it is going to be a different story for many professionals getting to Kona in 2019.
ST: How do you see this change playing out?
Cameron: It will be very tough. Each IRONMAN event only has one spot with the regional champs having three spots so I can see a lot of good athletes missing out or having to chase races all around the globe.
ST: The last few years have been dominated by the Germans and even with Jan Frodeno out they seemingly still have plenty of weapons.
Cameron: Yes they have always been super strong in Hawaii but with Jan out it has really thrown a spanner in the works with who could win it this year.
ST: Given the field as it is now, how do you think the men’s race will play out?
Cameron: I've watched the last few years as we were on holiday there supporting friends, and athletes I train, and it's always fascinating watching the race from the sidelines as its just a smash contest on the bike with people surging all day long and then watching some very tired athletes run along the Queen K after biking far too hard and many blowing up.
ST: Come on give us a prediction.
Cameron: I'd say Kienle, Lange, Sanders will be up there but the race is a lottery some years. You might have someone finishing in the top 5 last year and the next year there finishing 30th, just look at the tri ratings and you can see all the past performances.
ST: And what is on your race plan?
Cameron: To have a race I can be proud of. My last 5 years in Kona were filled with either getting sick, being injured, or stung by bees the night before the race. In 2015 my bike was left in transition alone as I was too sick to race and start so I want to go in this time around healthy and strong.
ST: I think you did your first race in 1987 and you are still competing at the highest level 31 years later. Not many folks can say that.
Cameron: I have a real passion for this sport and just love it. Don't get me wrong as there are some days where I'm not enjoying it with having a off day training or riding in the middle of winter, but then there are so many great days where you are racing or training in some incredible part of the world and visiting cool places. The last couple of years I've really tried to do some different events and see new countries.
ST: How much longer do you think you can push this hard?
Cameron: As long as this body keeps going. I don't rest as much as I use to as if I have to much time off the first run back I get injured, so it's more about active recovery for my body and keeping it moving to avoid a major breakdown!
ST: Where do you see yourself next?
Cameron: I'm coaching around 8 athletes, two are racing in Hawaii and I see myself doing more of this in the future, and I'll race as long as I can.
ST: Is there anything else we should know?
Cameron: No, that is about it Herbert. Wishing everyone racing Hawaii a great day.