Former ITU Pro David Dellow recently won the 2012 Ironman Cairns with quite a bit of panache and late last year he took the win in Noosa, showing that he is fast and dangerous at all distances.
Slowtwitch: Congrats on that nice win.
David: Thank you. The weeks leading into Cairns were not ideal with an Achilles injury and the flu but to come away with the win and more importantly be qualified for Kona is great.
ST: Did you feel that you were racing in Cairns without pressure?
David: It’s an old cliché but the main pressure on race day always comes from myself. I had family and friends up there supporting me but I’m pretty sure if I had a bad race they’d still talk to me afterwards.
ST: Of course maybe it being so close to home brings up at least some expectations.
David: For sure. When I race overseas nobody really knows what I’m doing, but with Cairns a lot of people from the Sunshine Coast knew I was racing because there were several stories in the paper and on the news leading up to the race. I think after winning Noosa last year lots of people from the Sunshine Coast just expect me to win every race.
ST: How was your day?
David: The swim, run and first half of the bike were fine. The 2nd half of the bike I really struggled. I had some sickness leading into the race and I missed a few key long rides in my race prep so I think that affected my endurance on the bike.
ST: Much unlike short course racing where a struggle pretty much means race over, in long course racing that is not so.
David: Definitely not. Before I came to long course I always overheard Ironmen talking about how they had a ‘bad patch’. It’s so true, Ironman is such a long day that you can’t expect to feel great all day. The key I think is how you deal with the bad patch. Cairns was a good lesson for me because things fell apart on the 2nd part of the ride and I started getting really negative and contemplated pulling out. I know now that bad patches are just going to happen and I have to suck it up and deal with it.
ST: When Brown pulled away early on in the run, what was going through your mind?
David: Initially my goal for the race was to just get a 3rd or 4th which along with my points from Phuket 70.3 and Ironman Melbourne would give me enough points to get to Kona. When Cam pulled away I wasn’t really concerned because winning the race wasn’t my goal - funnily enough.
ST: Does coach Sutton think that is an acceptable attitude?
David: Yes I think he would approve. Sutto isn’t some mad man that expects his athletes to win every race. He realizes that some races serve a purpose like a training hit out, getting some spending money or in my case with Cairns just salvaging enough points to get to Kona. What he would wouldn’t approve of is - me not sticking to my prerace strategy and going of and trying to be a hero on the bike.
ST: Was there a tug of war between you and Cam?
David: Not really. When I caught up to Cam I was having a good patch and I’m sure he was having a bad patch so I was able to get past him and build a lead straight away.
ST: The gap really opened up wide in the latter stages of the run. Was there a moment you felt at peace or not really until you saw the finish line?
David: Cam and I crossed paths at about the 30km mark and my lead was about 4 minutes so at that point I knew I didn’t really have to push super hard so I could just nurse myself towards the finish line.
ST: Was crossing the line with your first Ironman title everything you imagined?
David: The finish line was great at Cairns. The crowd was much bigger than I was expecting and I was able to give my mum a hug and shake my dad’s hand before I went over the line. My parents have been my biggest supporters over the years so to have them standing there at the finish line for my first ironman victory was something I’ll remember forever.
ST: You started your career in ITU racing, is that all completely behind you?
David: I started out in ITU and I will always be a fan of the ITU racing because I’ve been in it and I appreciate just how unbelievably hard and fast it is. I will always have some regrets about my years in ITU racing because I was injured half the time so I never reached my potential in that style of racing. I did reach one major goal and that was to make an Australia elite team which I did at the 2007 Hamburg world championships, it’s still my proudest moment in triathlon and I still have my team jacket from Hamburg hanging at the front of my cupboard. On returning to the ITU you can never say never but after seeing what went on with the Olympic selection this year and with me having some success now I’m happy with Ironman.
ST: Were you surprised at all how the selection went down?
David: Not really. Unlike other sports like swimming the triathlon selection policy set out was open to ‘Discretion’. All this does is open up a world of political crap. At the Australian Olympic swim trials Ian Thorpe didn’t perform on the night and that was that. No arguments, no lobbying selectors behind the scenes and no lawyers. I’m sure Thorpie was devastated but that was it. Now if the selection policy in swimming was open to discretion and Thorpie hired a team of lawyers just imagine the case they could argue for Australia’s greatest ever Olympian, they’d probably still be in the courts and all that would do is drag down the whole swim team and destroy the Olympic experience for the athletes involved.
ST: Would you like to be in the shoes of the selectors?
David: No way. Being a triathlon selector is a thankless job. The amount of people who like to get up on a high horse, like I just did in my previous answer and criticize selectors is incredible.
ST: Did Macca give you any words of advice on eventually returning to ITU racing?
David: I’ve never spoken to Chris.
ST: What is next for you?
David: I’ll stay at home in Mooloolaba for a few more weeks then head over to Switzerland via the Philippines for the 5150. I’ll be based in Switzerland at altitude with the rest of my Team TBB team mates for a three month Kona prep. I will do one or two races in Europe but I’m sure I won’t be setting the world alight on those days because they’ll just be training hit outs. So the next big goal is Kona and I’m itching to get over there.
ST: Expectations for Kona?
David: This year will be my first time in Kona but my expectations are still high. I think the race suits me with the fast swim, fast bike and hot flat run. All my team mates who’ve been to Kona are getting a bit sick of me I think because all I do is ask them questions about every minor detail about the race.
Something you see in all sports is how nations just get on a role and are unbeatable for certain periods in time. Like the West Indies cricket team during the 80’s, Australia at the 1500m freestyle during the 90’s and the list goes on. Thanks to Craig Alexander, Chris McCormack, Mirinda Carfrae and Michellie Jones Australia is riding the crest of a wave in Kona and I want to get over there and be a part of it.
Another big motivator for me in Kona this year is I feel strongly that unless you’ve performed there your not much chop as a long course athlete. One of the major differences I see between long course and ITU is just how easy it is to hide in the cracks in long course. Because of the nature of long course racing the talent gets spread paper thin throughout the whole year and Kona is the only race of the year when everyone’s there and they mean business. In ITU racing there’s 70 guys on the start at every race and all the best guys are there week in and week out and there’s just nowhere to hide. At long course races I see blokes walking around and they’ve barely got enough room on their shirt for all their sponsors and I just think mate all you’ve ever done is win races against nobody’s in the middle of nowhere. I’m happy with my win at Cairns but I won’t be walking around with my chest puffed out till I perform on the only day that counts in long course – Kona.
ST: Along those lines, how are things with you and Caroline?
David: Things are good. We’ve been together for 3.5 years now. She’s a great girl and I’m very lucky to have her.
ST: Do you train much together?
David: Never. Training isn’t a social occasion for either of us so we are usually on different programs and going in different directions. I think if you live and work with someone it could really test the relationship.
ST: Would there be a fear to get worked over during a workout?
David: Maybe that’s why I never train with her. Getting chicked is bad but if it’s you own girlfriend then well that would be a disaster.
David: Alaska is a milk company based in the Philippines, they’re the naming rights sponsor for the Philippines chapter of Team TBB – ‘Alaska Team TBB Philippines.' The team consists of four pro triathletes, myself, Caroline, Ali Fitch, Matt O’Halloran. The team is also made up of six young Filipino kids from all walks of life. One of the major goals for the team is to develop these young kids into athletes that can compete on the world stage in triathlon. We all came together for the launch of the team in Manila back in April this year. At the launch I met Fred Uytengsu, the President and CEO of Alaska Milk. Fred’s a passionate triathlete himself so having a major sponsor like him really helps.
ST: Does that mean you don't have to worry about milk supply?
David: Definitely not, it’s coming out of my ears.
ST: Are you more of a plain milk man, or are you partial to chocolate milk?
David: Chocolate all the way. I live on the stuff. It’s the best recovery drink in the world and in cold races I even have it with me on the bike.
ST: All well with other sponsors?
David: I’m not exactly beating off sponsors with a big stick so any offers are always welcome but yes I am happy with the sponsors currently tied up with Team TBB – Alaska which I’ve already mentioned, Cervelo, Campagnolo, ON Running, 2XU, 3T and Cobb Saddles.
ST: Anything else we should know?
David: That’s it, see you in Kona.