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British Olympic great Alistair Brownlee on his ‘new challenge’, triathlon bucket list test and gravel racing love

Alistair Brownlee opens up on his 'new challenge', the excitement of T100 and Alcatraz, and his love of gravel racing.

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Alistair Brownlee is Britain’s greatest ever triathlete – a two-time Olympic champion – but now the 36-year-old superstar faces a new challenge in the latest phase of his glittering career.

Alistair of course will not be competing at Paris 2024 this summer, having ended his short-course career when an ankle injury ruined his bid to make the team for Tokyo in 2021.

Since then Brownlee, an absolute phenomenon who claimed 36 victories and 50 podiums in 78 World Triathlon starts, has been plying his trade over longer distances – both middle-distance and full / IRONMAN.

Those three years since Tokyo have been ravaged by a frustrating run of injuries – notably more ankle surgery and a stress fracture in his hip. While the incredible talent remains, Brownlee admits he faces a new test and realisation.

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Alistair Brownlee on ‘new challenge’

Speaking to ‘Breakfast With Bob [Babbitt]’ (full episode at the foot of this page), he said: “At the moment I feel pretty healthy. It’s been constantly frustrating really – I definitely can’t do the same level of training as I used to be able to. But I still enjoy racing and competing and trying to work out, get everything out of myself that I can and race as well as I can given the constraints I’ve got and that’s like a new challenge.”

Brownlee’s 2024 has so far consisted of a pair of T100 tests, both presenting brutal challenges, in the shape of Miami and Singapore. He finished fifth in Florida before a DNF in Asia after feeling something in his ankle at the bike dismount.

Britain's Alistair Brownlee finished fifth at the Miami T100.
Alistair Brownlee finished fifth in the brutal heat of T100 Miami [Photo Credit – PTO].
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T100 and Escape From Alacatraz

Next up for Alistair is another massive T100 outing, in San Francisco, and it gives him the opportunity to take in an iconic bucket list course he has long wanted to tick off. The famous Escape From Alcatraz triathlon.

“It’s been on my bucket list for a long time so I’m very happy I finally get to go,” he explained.

Apart from the iconic nature of the race, Brownlee will also not have to deal with the brutal heat of Miami and Singapore, something he is thankful for.

“Now I feel like I’m in a good place and I keep getting told this course in San Francisco, the heat is not gonna be an issue, so at least that’s something to take away.”

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Gravel racing a love

Brownlee does not limit himself just to triathlon these days either, and he has discovered a love of gravel racing. He explained why it’s such a joy for him.

“Ultimately I just enjoy competing and I love to be competing more at all different kind of forms of the sport. And gravel is just a great competition outlet for me. it’s hard, it’s a lot like long-distance triathlon in many ways. It takes place over long periods of time.

“I did the big European race a few weeks ago – the Traka in northern Spain, 200km long and super competitive. That took about six-and-a-half hours – just crazy hard, crazy hard power over long periods of time. It’s like triathlon, you’ve got that competitive element and at the same time you’re out in amazing scenery.

“One minute you’re climbing up a mountain and then you’re flying down through a Spanish village, climbing up another mountain or whatever – it’s really cool. I love that exploration, I love pushing myself and I love the competition.”

Brownlee has his eye on some more major gravel tests in the future, and admits he had even pondered heading to the States a week early to compete in the iconic Unbound race in Kansas, which took place on Saturday.

“People keep telling me to do Unbound and I was a little bit tempted to come to the States a week early to have a go. I think if I could add three or four weeks into that, had I thought about it a bit earlier, I probably could have had a good run at it actually. You need to do some specific training for that length of race over 200 miles. I don’t want to go into a 200-mile race without that, be in a lot of trouble over 100miles in and then it’s a long way home.”

Graham Shaw
Written by
Graham Shaw
Graham has been involved with TRI247 & RUN247 since the summer of 2021. Since then he has provided strategic direction for all news and is passionate about the growth of triathlon as a fan sport.
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