Top 10 and a Kona slot: Big targets for ‘Big Metz’ in World Champs debut

Justin Metzler is into the final stages of his training for his first IRONMAN World Championship in St George on May 7 and he’s in the best possible location, taking advantage of the chance to recce the swim, bike and run courses in Utah as he counts down to the big day.

Outlining his current form and looking ahead to next month, he updated viewers in the latest video on his YouTube channel, featuring plenty of impressive cinematography and titled ‘the training camp’.

“This climate, the topography, the heat, the hills, and the red rock are all so different from anywhere else,” he said.

“We’ve used this as an opportunity to ride the course, run the course and swim in the Sand Hollow Reservoir.”

Learning from ‘T.O.’

And joining him there has been long-time training partner Tim O’Donnell, someone he’s looked up to throughout his career.

“It took a little bit of poking to get Tim out here,” explained ‘Big Metz’. “He has two little kids and responsibilities at home.”

YouTube video

O’Donnell of course was famously runner-up to Jan Frodeno the last time the IRONMAN World Championship was held, back in 2019 at Kona where he became only the fourth man to go under eight hours on the Big Island.

“I feel like I learn something new every day from him,” said Metzler. “I feel like four weeks out from a World Championship, you’re not going to find a guy with much more world championship experience.”

Working on his gameplan

He qualified for St George with a standout second to Sam Long at IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene last year, though this season hasn’t quite gone to plan so far for Metzler, with a 16th place at CLASH Miami.

But he confirmed that he feels fit, strong, and ready to tackle the challenge from a physical standpoint. However, the American believes the most formidable challenge lies in race strategy: “I need to develop my gameplan, and that’s why I’m here. Every time we go out training, I think of my signature strengths and weaknesses and what I can lean on in this race.”

“The one tidbit I’ll give anyone is that this course is really hard. It will expose every aspect of your strengths and weaknesses.

“I feel like St George is a place that I am comfortable with and comfortable with the conditions. One of the reasons we decided to do this camp was others were not going to have the fortune of being here for two weeks.”

And outlining his aims for the event he adds, “I do believe in myself for the top 10 and my one outcome goal that I won’t be shy about is I want to get a Kona slot. There are eight slots and they’ll roll down from those who already have one so I think top 10 will do it for sure.

“A top 10 and a Kona slot would be kind of like winning this race for me – it’s my first IRONMAN World Championship so that would be an insane debut.”

Jonathan Turner
Article by
Jonathan is Editorial Director for TRI247 and RUN247. He was previously Head of Digital / Comms for pro cycling's Team Sky and now spends as much time as he can running with his local club. Swimming is not yet on the radar.