Australian duo Cameron Wurf and Josh Amberger have spoken about their excitement to return to Kona, Hawaii ahead of the 2022 IRONMAN Triathlon World Championship.
The men’s race takes place this Saturday and the two are hoping that strong performances in their specialist fields, bike and swim respectively, will help propel them to impressive finishes in triathlon’s showpiece race.
Wurf thankful for return
The COVID pandemic disrupted the IRONMAN World Championship more than most other competitions, forcing organisers to face countless logistical issues about how to run an international event on a pacific island.
It meant the 2020 championships were postponed altogether, while the 2021 edition only took place earlier this year (2022) and in St George, Utah rather than at the traditional home of Kona, Hawaii.
This is the reason I do this sport
But now the 2022 edition has returned home, and Wurf is over the moon to have normality resumed.
“For me this is the reason I do this sport and the reason a lot of people do this sport,” said Wurf, who races for the INEOS Grenadiers pro cycling team.
“Every year I’ve been so fortunate so I’m not going to complain, the world’s been through an incredible amount of uncertainty but for me it’s been three years without a conclusion to the season, so it feels like I haven’t had an off season for three years.
“The season hasn’t been complete without getting a chance to be here and seeing where you’re at, so I think everyone shares the same feeling.”
Wurf holds the current bike record on the course, setting a time of 4:09:06 in 2018. It means racing on Hawaii has even more potency for the Tasmanian, who is just happy to be competing on the big island.
“It’s just a special place,” Wurf explained.
“At least in the buildup to race day, it’s pretty hard to find someone who’s not got a smile on their face and not happy to be here.
“Words don’t describe it; absence makes the heart grow fonder and there’s no doubt that I appreciate this place more than I ever did in the past.”
Amphibious Amberger’s ambitions
One of the strongest swimmers lining up at Kona will be Amberger, the Australian well accustomed to having to race from the front.
One of the pinnacles of endurance sports
“Kona is one of the pinnacles of endurance sports, it’s a household name with rich history and traditions, and the world is watching,” said Amberger.
“So, as a professional, I feel honoured to be able to start at the head of the race for the fourth time. I’ve never had the result I’d hoped for in years past, but this didn’t diminish the experience.
“I’m racing for top 10, top five or even a podium, but no matter the outcome, I will always feel thankful to be taking part.”
Kona is considered one of the toughest races in the world, and Amberger knows from experience that’s a title it’s fully deserving of.
“Most of my take-homes from previous years have been tactical in nature, as I’ve always raced outside my ability,” he explained.
“The race and the harsh conditions have always got the better of me once the gun goes and the adrenaline kicks in.
“I’ve learnt to be patient and to treat the distance with respect, and I think this more measured and mature approach to IRONMAN racing will pay off in the return of Kona in 2022.”