Alistair Brownlee adds yet another huge name to an intoxicating mix in long-distance triathlon in 2022.
The British star is ready to return after ankle surgery ended his hopes of bidding for a third Olympic gold in Tokyo, and now his focus is on longer distances.
Brownlee on Ironman scene
Alistair has watched with interest events in recent months as Blummenfelt and Iden have announced their arrivals on the scene at 140.6 miles, and he is both excited and motivated to take on the very best in 2022.
He told TRI247: “In terms of men’s elite racing, long-distance triathlon has really exploded hasn’t it! And it’s great. You obviously want to beat the best people you can and that’s what motivates me to train as hard as I can to race as well as I can.
“So it’s a great position and I also think that in terms of the racing available there are so many showpiece events to look forward to – obviously we’ve mentioned Sub7, the IRONMAN World Championships and then there’s the PTO as well, they’re talking about their tour and having more races that encourage the best people to race long-distance against each other more often, which is just brilliant.”
2022 plans for Alistair
Alistair is of course on the way back after that ankle surgery he underwent during the summer, and is currently plotting his return date, and the pathway to St George and Sub7.
“At the moment I’m not entirely sure. I want to race the World Championship IRONMAN in St George and then obviously the full focus will turn towards Sub7 after that, that’s what is likely going to happen.
“I would like to do something before St George in the early part of the year but I’m not sure exactly what that will be just yet. But probably a half-distance race.”
There has been much discussion and debate about the location of that race in May 2022, after IRONMAN took the difficult decision to move it away from Kona due to COVID concerns on the ‘Big Island’. It’s a move Brownlee understands.
Kona move is common sense
He reasoned: “Kona does have that special pull and draw about it for sure – it’s a mystical sort of race. But I’m not worried about it being in a different place.
“I think being a pragmatist, having a race that definitely can be on because of where it is and accessibility etc is better than having the potential for a race to be cancelled again.
“So I think that kind of pragmatical argument is important. And I think as IRONMAN and the sport has grown, you can keep the race in Kona very special – but in some ways it would be even more special if it wasn’t there every year.”
Alistair of course has fond memories of St George after his dominant performance to win IRONMAN 70.3 there in May 2017, and the switch from Hawaii to Utah is something he will relish.
“I really enjoyed it (the 2017 race). To be honest it’s a good venue for me. It’s relatively hilly and interesting – and obviously humidity isn’t a problem!”
Brownlee’s progress and learning curve at the Ironman distance was halted by the COVID pandemic in early 2020 – his most recent outing remains that impressive victory at IRONMAN Western Australia in December 2019.
The Yorkshireman felt he was making big strides from a knowledge perspective – and feels one more race before his 21st place at Kona in 2019 could have resulted in a different outcome on Hawaii.
“It’s obviously very different from Olympic-distance racing. I felt like I’d come a long way and if I’d have had one more race before Kona I think that could have been a very different race for me – if I was in the place I was by the time I got to Western Australia.
“I did learn a lot and I learnt quickly. It’s a shame I’ve had to have a two-year gap now and I hope that I still remember those lessons and take them into next year.
“Nutrition is really important and getting that right isn’t the difference between a few seconds here or there that it might be over Olympic distance. It could be the difference between finishing or not finishing. I think I’ve only got that better in the last couple of years.”
In terms of goals for 2022, they are exactly what you would expect from a two-time Olympic champion. Take on the best, beat the best.
“I’d say my main focus is Sub7 and trying to win an IRONMAN world title and then the PTO racing at the middle distance, that I think is the most important middle-distance racing in the world.”
The arrival of the PTO on the scene, along with new formats like Super League Triathlon and Sub7, have seen unprecedented investment and buzz around the sport in the last two years. The result is hugely positive according to Brownlee.
“It’s in a fantastic place. I think the more and different forms of the sport at this stage is a really good thing.
“More triathlon is better in terms of engaging the casual fan if you like – and fans in general – the more sport there is to watch and be entertained by is brilliant. And it’s fantastic to see so many British triathletes doing so well across all aspects of the sport.”
You can also read the other parts of our exclusive interview with Alistair: