Ironman legend Belinda Granger talks Triathlon in Asia and her plans for the future
Belinda Granger from Australia is the most well known professional triathlete doing the Asian circuit. The 15 times Ironman Champion, has won most of the main races in this region including Ironman Malaysia, Laguna Phuket Triathlon and last Sunday on june 7th, took the title at 5150 Subic Bay, Philippines.
We interviewed Belinda about the triathlon scene in Asia, how she is transitioning from a world class athlete to retirement and what her next plans are in and out of the sport.
AsiaTRI (AT): After a highly successful career in as a professional triathlete, you’ve recently retired from professional racing and are now working with Challenge Family as their Pro athlete Liaison. How exactly do you plan do help them and what is your role?
Belinda Granger (BG): I ‘officially retired’ at the end of last year, however, I am ‘sneaking’ in 5 more races this season but don’t tell anyone. I took on the roll of Pro Liaison for Challenge Family in mid January this year. It really is a role purpose built for me. Having been a pro myself for the past 18 years I have a very good understanding of a pro athlete’s needs. My goal is to provide as much assistance as I can for the athlete and make sure their racing experience is a great one.
My role includes signing athletes up to races and being their ‘go to’ person if they have any enquires or questions about a particular event, to negotiating contracts on a single and multi-race level. On the flip-side I am also there to assist the race directors and ensure that they get a the best possible pro field that they can at their events.
You are racing all Sunrise events this year (Ironman 70.3 Vietnam and both Ironman 70.3 races in Philippines), any other events that you plan to take part this season? And what goals do you have for these races?
It is no secret that I adore all of the Sunrise Event’s races. I have been supporting their events for years now. Fred and Princess and the entire team at Sunrise Events do the most amazing job and their races are among the most professional and well-run in the world.
This year I am doing all of their races which include the inaugural Vietnam 70.3, Subic 70.3, Cebu 70.3, Subic 5i50 and Bohol 5i50- so five races in total. To tell the truth my only goals at these races are to support Fred, Princess and their entire team and to give back to the sport of triathlon and to just enjoy the sport I love with the amazing Filipino triathletes- they are the best triathlete fans in the world and I always have the best time when I race with them all.
You have won the most prestigious triathlon events in Asia and raced here for decades. How do you see the growth in the triathlon scene in this part of the world and its direction its taking?
Honestly, I have never seen growth like it- it is just crazy. I still remember when I first raced in Asia- it was pretty much just ex-pats that were racing, but now it is everyone. You look at countries like the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, even India, and they are all hooked on the sport. Japan has always been a big fan of triathlon but now all of these countries in South-East Asia are right up there with Japan in terms of participation, it is really wonderful to see. And we have such an amazing array of races to choose from.
As a pro athlete in the past you had no choice but to travel to the States or to Europe to make a living in triathlon but now you can base your entire year in Asia-Pacific and race all year around if you want to.
Talking about training a little. How much training are you still doing these days? Can you also share what was a typical work load from a typical ironman load of your major wins?
I will continue to train for the rest of my life….I am not going to lie- I am as addicted to this sport as anyone. Triathlon is a way of life for me and just because I am not really racing anymore doesn’t mean I am going to stop training. Of course I don’t have quite as much time to train these days as I used to but I will always fit two sessions in a day- one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
My body, both physically and mentally, just does not function properly if I don’t train…..over 20 years in the sport will do this to you. A typical workload when I was racing at my best was about 30 hours a week. When I was training with Sutto (Brett Sutton) we usually trained three times a day- it usually started with a swim session then would include either a double-ride or a double-run or one of each. It usually worked out to be 6 swim sessions, 6 bike sessions and, more often than not, over 6 runs a week.
I didn’t really ever take a day off on a regular basis. I had easier training days and even active-recovery days, but there were not many occasions where I took a full day off- I would even go out training the day after I raced an ironman. I still remember winning IM Canada for the first time and the next morning I got up and went for a run…..I didn’t do it because I had to, I did it because I wanted to and it felt so good to do it.
Other than the work with Challenge-Family, and the more casual racing and training that you are doing, what else keeps you busy these days? Are you doing any coaching or working with old sponsors?
Obviously most of my time is now spent in my role as pro liaison for Challenge Family, however, I am also still working very closely with my clothing sponsor- Jagged and my bike sponsor-Ceepo. These are two companies that I am very passionate about. I genuinely believe in their product and I want to help promote it to the world.
They have also been so good to me and have been the most amazing companies to work with. I will be heading to Kona again this year to work with Ceepo at their expo booth and I can’t wait.
Another new company that I am now involved with is ‘Cranktip’ which is a new pedal system. These guys are amazing and so forward thinking. I love seeing just how far our sport has come in terms of technology.
One thing is for sure….life will never be dull and it will always involve swim, bike and run!
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