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Interview with Sam Betten – Subic Bay 5150 Champion

Australian Sam Betten is a regular at most high profile triathlon races in Asia, he is coming off a win at the Regent 5150 in Subic Bay, Philippines, finished 7th at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam and later in the year you will be able to see him in action at the Ironman 70.3 Cebu. We talked to Sam about his background, plans for the future and his thoughts on the Asian triathlon scene.

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  1. We have seen you regularly in Asian races. But can you tell us about your background in the sport? How did you start in triathlons and moved up until now, when we all watched you to win 5150 Subic Bay?

My background in the sport started when I began to do some running races at school as well as swimming at my local swimming club. My dad had got me into cycling as well and by chance a local triathlon club formed at the swimming pool next to my school. After signing up with the triathlon club I kept training and racing, slowly coming through the ranks and racing ITU events. I experienced some early success in the sport being crowned the Australian Triathlon National ITU Junior Elite Champion two years in a row. I have only made the change to non-drafting triathlon events in the last 3 years after racing ITU short course triathlons since I was 17 years old. My first overseas racing was doing the ITU short course triathlon events in Japan and China when I was a teenager.

My passion has always been for non-drafting long course triathlon events and so after racing in ITU short course events for many years I wanted to try something new with long course triathlons. My first ever Ironman 70.3 I finished 2nd after leading the swim and then setting a new bike course record by extending my lead during the cycle leg. I just really enjoyed the whole race and the challenge of racing for 4 hours.

After Cobra IM70.3 last year I choose to make the commitment to SunRise Events & continue to race in Asia. The racing is always hot and hard but the support you receive on the course is amazing. It has been great to have the opportunity to race in Asia and see the sport of triathlon growing year after year. It is fast becoming one of the best places to race in the world and I am proud to have the opportunity to be apart of it as a professional athlete.

  1. What’s next for you in terms of racing and what are your medium and long term goals in the sport?
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My next race in Asia will be Cobra Ironman 70.3. I finished 2nd at this event last year and I will be hoping to improve on this result in 2015. Medium term I want to keep racing and training hard and building my results every year. Each year I am seeking to improve just like every other triathlete out there. After having several Ironman 70.3 podium performances I am really hunting for my first win at an Ironman 70.3 race.

My ultimate goal in the sport is to one day win the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. This has always been a dream of mine and is honestly something I think about when I am out training during every session. To win a World Championship would be amazing and I look forward to my journey towards this big goal of mine. I believe that by racing in the Philippines and all over Asia in the hot temperatures during the races there will prepare me well for the hot and humid climate in Hawaii.

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  1. Talking races in Asia, in Vietnam Ironman 70.3 you were with the lead pack until the run, then struggled to finish in 7th. Now that the race is behind us, anything you would do different to change that result? What advise would you give to age groupers that are planning to do this event next year?

Heading into the race I knew that I had a good shot at a podium finish. I felt great in the swim and lead out of the water going onto the bike. I stayed with the lead group on the bike and was feeling pretty good heading out onto the run. After the first kilometer of the run, I fell apart completely due to the extreme heat. Being a bigger athlete (194cm tall, 79kg) I know that my body does not typically handle the heat as well as a smaller built athlete. Physically I know that there was not a lot more I could have done on race day in Vietnam.

Looking back I should have chosen to wear my SCODY A.I.R Sleeved Tri Suit which would have covered my shoulders and arms more than my usual sleeveless tri suit which I wore on race day. For me this plays a big difference in keeping me cool with the fabric on the arms holding some moist which means I can pour cool water on my race suit to help keep my core body temperature down which is especially helpful during the run leg.

After Vietnam 70.3 I learnt this equipment lesson and so for Regent 5150 wore my SCODY A.I.R sleeved race suit and went on to win the race. It is small changes like these with you equipment which I know has helped me to handle the heat better. It’s been a learning experience for me but I think now after trying a few different options with my race day clothing and equipment I am better educated in handling the heat.

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My advise to the age group athletes racing this event next year is you need to remember that heat management plays a huge part in being able to race well at these hot races. You need to keep you body cool whether that be with a sleeved race suit to shield your arms from the sun or freezing your drink bottles the night before the race to make sure when you get to your bike they are still cold. Other things you should consider is wearing a hat and sunglasses during the run to protect you from the suns rays and heat.

 

  1. Where are you based throughout the year and can you share with us a typical training week? What type of load do you do and which is your favorite training session on each discipline?

I base myself in Brisbane, Australia for most of the year, which makes travel to Asia for racing quite easy as most flights are only around 8-12 hours of total travel time. I have changed things up a little bit this year however as I flew from Regent 5150 to spend about 4 weeks in Europe getting myself ready for the ITU Long Distance World Championships.

With my training I don’t do any crazy big millage in training and prefer to just stay consistent with my training. I typically swim 4 times a week with each session being around 5kms. I ride on average about 300kms and run anywhere from 60kms up to 120kms depending what phase of training I am in. My favorite training session would have to be riding at home where I live in Australia. Generally I stop for a coffee during my longer rides and just enjoy being out there riding my bike. I really enjoy most sessions and love seeing the improvement in my training week after week.

With swimming there is a big lake close to where I live which I really enjoy swimming in and for the run training I have some amazing running trails in the forest just a short drive from home. I really love training in Brisbane, Australia and feel like it allows me to get the training I need done.

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