Chris McCormack building towards Kona at Ironman Cairns this weekend.

Chris McCormack Ironman Cairns

Chris McCormack is back to racing long-course this year

On Sunday 9 June when Chris McCormack enters the water to begin his assault on the Cairns Airport Ironman Cairns he will be cast in a very familiar role. It’s a role he knows well, one he’s been playing for much of his decorated career. You could almost say it’s the role he was born to play, that role is of red-hot favourite.

The 12-time Ironman winner is looking forward to testing out his Ironman legs again after spending much of the first half of last year racing on the International Triathlon Union (ITU) circuit, fighting for an Olympic berth.

“I absolutely loved racing the new wave of athletes in short course. It was just a lot of fun. Competitively I had to accept that this style of racing was entirely a personal thing. I got myself in my own head space and basically focused on trying to get as fast as I possibly could at the distance,” McCormack said.

“It was not what position I came but more how quick I could go. I was never going to be able to compete with the new wave of kids, but I got my 10km run split down to 31 min 07 seconds off the bike and I always felt that I had to ride out my swim loss so my bike ride was hard.

“I was happy with the entire process. I met so many cool young guys and got to see their perspective on the sport and the future of it. I would not trade the experience for the world.”

With the ITU experiment behind him McCormack has his sights set on a strong race at Cairns, and then a solid preparation for the October’s IronmanWorld Championship, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

“I cannot wait until Cairns. I think the main threats will be the young guys in Clayton Fettell and Luke McKenzie who will push really hard on the bike. I like this approach and just hope to keep them in close and deliver an even paced marathon,” McCormack said.

“Knowing how aggressive this years’ Kona is going to be, if I decide to venture down that path, I need to look at how evenly I can run this marathon. If they lay down a hard bike it makes for a tough day in Cairns on this run course.

“I think the way David Dellow approached this race last year is the way to do it. I know New Zealand’s Cameron Brown is looking at returning for the event so he will be a great guy to have if he is fit. I would love to work off him for a strong negative split marathon here. The title is well and truly up for grabs.”

Ironically for McCormack two of the athletes he battled during the ITU season are coming to play on his turf.

Brad Kahlefeldt and Courtney Atkinson are both looking long, and are racing at Ironman 70.3 Cairns.

McCormack believes the injection of ITU athletes will change the face of Ironman racing.

“I think Javier Gomez, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee (the Gold and Bronze medallists from the London Olympics) will change the game when they go long. I love what these guys are doing. Javier in particular really impresses me in his pure speed off his body shape,” he said.

“I think he is perfectly built for long course racing. They will set a standard that is pretty special. Kona is a special beast in itself and success at this event is as much about your physical ability as it is about your ability to deal with weather conditions.

“Do I see much change at this event? No I don’t. But I do see them changing the pace at the marque events in Europe where it all comes down to your ability to swim, bike and run fast. This is where you will see the game change.”

The Cairns Airport Ironman Cairns event is Sunday 9 June, 2013. Race starts from 07.25am.