Jackson Laundry is truly a rising star of middle-distance triathlon, but he has a message for his rivals – there is still more to come.
The 28-year-old Canadian backed up the promise of his improvement in recent years by overcoming a stellar field at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside earlier this month.
Laundry defeated two-time Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee and fellow Canadian Lionel Sanders among others. Despite the high-class opposition though, it was not a result which surprised Jackson.
Laundry on Oceanside win
Speaking to Mark Allen on the GOAT’s ‘Mondays With Mark Allen’ series, he explained: “Certainly a performance I knew I was capable of. I’ve had those thoughts that I was right where I needed to be for the last several races and each one has kind of got me closer and closer.
“This one seems to be certainly a jump up, who knows what’s possible so I can’t wait to get back out and try it again against some of the same guys, who probably want another crack at me!”
Beating Brownlee and Sanders was absolute proof of the rapid strides (quite literally) that Jackson has made in recent years.
“I’ve only raced Alistair a few times, that was probably the third time,” he said.
Ready to beat the best
“The first time he beat me by probably 15 minutes in St George in 2017 – and that was a good race for me at that time. Then we raced in Daytona but he didn’t have a chance to finish, he was injured, in 2020. So this was the first time I was able to beat him.
“And the first time I was able to beat Lionel, we raced many many times. Collins Cup – we didn’t have the same matchup so I don’t really count that, our times were pretty close. But definitely a pretty good feeling to beat him on a day where he definitely had a fantastic run and probably a pretty standard swim and bike for him. It just came together, that’s for sure.”
While Oceanside was the fastest run of Laundry’s career, he came away feeling there was more in the tank had he needed it.
Running to glory
“It was my best run ever – it was a 36-second PB at the distance. Really encouraging because I definitely think I could have had a bit more in the tank had I needed it the last mile or so.
“Obviously I wasn’t gonna be running 1:08:30 but I definitely could have kind of snuck under 1:10. But you’ve got to enjoy the finish when you have a day like that.
“I’ve definitely really improved my run out of all three sports the last few years. I think a lot of experience comes into play, in terms of just running if I were to go to an open running race I actually haven’t got that much faster. But being able to run very well off the bike in a half is what I’ve been able to hone in on.
“I still think there’s room to improve there and I’ll have to because there’s lots of guys running 1:08s and 1:09s now and so that’s gonna be what I’ll have to do as well. Obviously depends on the dynamics of the course, the conditions were pretty fast for Oceanside and I’m pretty happy with a 1:10 low so enjoy for now but certainly not complacent because everybody’s pushing and just getting faster and faster all the time.”
70.3 Worlds the big 2022 goal
The big target on Laundry’s 2022 calendar is the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in St George in October. He finished fifth in the same race last year, and on the same course. It was a performance which showed him he was heading very much in the right direction.
“That was another race that was probably a breakthrough just in terms of my swim and bike getting me into that lead group where I needed to be to be in contention. That was very difficult to do in that race and I was happy to do it obviously.
“I do definitely know I have room to improve on my run on that course. It was pretty good, but I certainly have another couple of minutes that I can improve on. For sure I’m going for a podium this year – it’s a great course for me, I’m experienced on the course and I’m improving every race so that’s kind of the big goal.
“If there’s one race that’s more of an ‘A’ race it would be that, but there’s quite a few big races this year and I’m kind of going to be racing once a month which for me works out to a point where I can recover and train and get ready for each event, so really excited to see what happens.”
While Jackson aced the physical side of things during that big win at Oceanside, he explained that the hardest factor was controlling the mental aspect.
“The whole race was really a challenge for me to stay focused and in the moment, when you’re having such a good day you need to not think about what is gonna happen but you need to think about what is happening and what to do at the moment.”
Reasons for Miami defeat
If Laundry’s seasonal debut at CLASH Miami in early March (he finished seventh behind Sam Long) appeared slightly disappointing to many, not for Jackson himself. There were valid reasons.
If transitioning from a freezing Canadian winter to the blistering heat of South Florida wasn’t enough, Laundry also came into the race off the back of an interrupted preparation.
“I also had a thumb surgery in January after a bike crash – I broke a rib and a a thumb – so I had to have that repaired, that kind of set me back so I’m still on my way up to peak fitness and that three weeks (between Miami and Oceanside) was just what I needed.”
So now Laundry is unquestionably one of the best around at the 70.3 distance, but was there a moment in his career that he knew this was possible? It came in St George last year, but not at 70.3 Worlds.
St George 2021 a turning point
“I think probably the first time I really started believing it was in St George for the North American Championship last year in May. It was similar to Worlds, I was right at the front of the race.
“Had a pretty good run but not what I knew I was capable of and I was only a couple of minutes behind the win. That was the race where Lionel and Sam were in a really good race for the win. I think it was a little under three minutes or something.
“Having that result and knowing that I didn’t have a perfect day, and that I’m just gonna keep getting better, I knew at that point I’m on the right path, just keep going and I will get there.
“You never know for sure but I just believed, just keep on it. And don’t set a timeline, like maybe it’ll be three years before I’m right where I want to be or maybe it’ll be the next race. Things happen at a pace that sometimes you never understand and you have to keep on the path that you’re on if it’s working and just trust it. It’s really paid off, and I still think I’ve got to keep improving.
“That was a fantastic result no question, but everybody is not in peak shape in May. So I had the best fitness on that day but everybody is going to keep getting better and I’ll have to do the same if I want to replicate that performance or do better than that performance in a few races this year.”