On a determined pace to Kona

In 2014 Levi Maxwell won his age group in Kona, and earlier this year he was 4th overall at Ironman Cairns. But his focus is set on Kona 2015 and going even faster. Currently he is training in Austria and that is where we connected with him.

Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time.

Levi Maxwell: No worries, it is a pleasure.

ST: When did you arrive in Europe?

Levi: I think it was the 25th of June.

ST: Posts of yours on social media make it appear that you have adjusted well.

Levi: Yes I like it here. It’s very different from home but the people are very nice. I just wish I could speak German.

ST: Did you learn any phrases?

Levi: Ja. I have been doing my best to learn as much of the basics as I can like please, thank you and good morning, just so when I go to a café I can get a Kaffee and croissant no worries. Per tried to teach me for a little while but he gave up.

ST: Are you doing any races while there or are all eyes on Kona?

Levi: I will be doing a sprint distance race here in town for some fun then Challenge Walchsee. Then I head home for Ironman 70.3 Sunshine coast.

ST: Why this European trip in the first place and why Austria?

Levi: It was all just luck and opportunity. Yvonne and Per stayed with my housemates and I in Geelong for IM Melbourne and they offered me to come stay with them to do some training and racing in Europe. I figured it would be a great experience as I have never been to Europe and it will make things easier if I come back here to do some racing in the future. Which is something I would like to do.

ST: When will you be leaving for the Big Island?

Levi: From the Sunshine coast I fly to Kona on the 26th of September. I found last year that getting to Kona two weeks out was ideal.

ST: In an interview late last year you talked about defending your age group title. What do you think it will take to do that?

Levi: A great performance! I think if I can replicate last year's performance with the addition of another 12 months of improvement it will give me the best possible chance to achieve the same, but better if that makes sense.

ST: Where do you think you have improved and how did you go about it?

Levi: Well I definitely have to improve my swim and that was originally the plan until I developed some shoulder issues earlier in the year and then I ran out of time to focus on it. My bike has come on as well with some good consistent training and a differing focus.

ST: Is the overall age group win a goal too?

Levi: For sure. Last year in hindsight, I was disappointed to have come so close and not get it. This year I will pay more attention to the overall and now that I know the course better I think I can have some strategies in place for different scenarios.

ST: Someone asked if age group champions in Kona had to qualify the following year, and I did not know. But I guess you would have the answer to that question.

Levi: No I didn’t have to qualify or validate. I just had to fork out the cash and I was in. I might add it was the most expensive Ironman I have ever paid for due to the Aussie dollar versus the US dollar. I am sure other countries are in a similar situation and its unfortunate as it makes it very difficult to be able to afford the trip and to have the chance to compete in one of the greatest races in the world.

ST: Earlier this year you were the top age grouper at Ironman Cairns in a very fast 8:36:57 and that meant overall age group champ and 4th overall.

Levi: It was a surprising performance. I wasn’t really racing with any expectation more just to do an Ironman before Kona and I had never raced Cairns. I mean, I was in great shape but due to the climate difference and my injuries early in the year I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself to get a result so I was very pleased how it turned out. Except missing out on 3rd overall by 2 seconds!

ST: Well, you surely validated, even though you did not have to.

Levi: I thought about not racing an Ironman before Kona but I was itching to race and I think it’s important to try new things. It will be interesting to see how I perform at Kona having done an Ironman a few months before which for me is a close time frame. And it is more valuable race experience and a training build under my belt.

ST: In Kona the 2:54:17 run split of yours was a PB and now in Cairns you managed an impressive 2:53:03. But were you running full throttle?

Levi: I know I could’ve found 3 seconds faster! [laughs] I think in every race you find things you think you could’ve done better. I had a plan A pace which I stuck to but I think I probably could’ve found some more time between 30-40k as I was in the lead and didn’t really have anyone to chase so I settled in.

ST: Has that race made you think to grab a pro card?

Levi: Going professional was always the plan for me but I wasn’t going to go pro for the sake of it. There are certain things I wanted to achieve as an age grouper before I turned pro and I wanted to have a performance that said “yes Levi you are ready for the big leagues now” and that was Cairns. But I want to go back to Kona and get more experienced there trying to defend a title.

ST: Have others pushed you to do so?

Levi: Yes! I remember after Kona last year people were saying to get a professional license but if I did I wouldn’t have been ready. There is a massive step up from age grouper to professional and I am still young. It was tempting but everyone close to me convinced me another year as an AG would be the best thing for me.

ST: On your Facebook page you shared a recipe for Nutella mousse, and I think that is not the first time you posted about that heavenly sweet delight. Is Nutella your secret source of power?

Levi: LOL now I can't give away all of my secret weapons! It’s no secret to the people close to me that I love all things Nutella, Hazelnut and Ferrero. So often I get tagged in these recipes and may have used a couple of them. Austria is a dangerous place for me! Haselnuss goodness everywhere!

ST: What food items are part of your regular diet?

Levi: I think I have eggs, Oats, a banana, COFFEE and rice with meat and veg (either chicken salmon or steak) just about everyday.

ST: Anything else we should know?

Levi: Since IM Melbourne last year a lot in my life has changed. It was then I decided I wanted to see if I was good enough to try and become professional in this sport and now I think I can. I wouldn’t have been able to come this far without the support network I have and I am forever grateful to have my sponsors: Bizmac LED scoreboards, Anker concreting, Giant bikes, CBD cycles, Mizuno Australia, Hammer Nutrition Australia, HUUB wetsuits, the City of Geelong and leisure link, Compressport, Anthony Garnier Myotherapy.

My performance advisor Jarrod Evans and last but not least my beautiful girlfriend who puts up with so much and is so supportive of my dreams to do the best I can in this sport.