Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Race Within: A conversation with Kate Bevilaqua on Ultra515 Canada



Image via katebevilaqua.com

I was surprised last month to check up on the start list at the rebranded Canadian event and see another professional Ironman athlete taking the challenge. I reached Kate at her home in Australia and we talked about why she signed up.

On her reasons for trying the Ultraman distance 

I've talked about doing it for three, four, five years now. The first time I heard about it was five years ago during a trip to Hawaii. It was always an issue of timing. This sort of thing is a major commitment, especially in terms of recovery and finance. But at the end of last year I started planning my calendar and thought 'why not?' I love the challenge. I like events that push me over the edge. It excites me. 

On whether she has plans to compete in Ultraman at some point 

The goal is definitely to win the Ultraman World Championships. Hawaii is special. I like to be there. But if the World Champs were somewhere else, I would definitely want to race there because it's the world champs. It's a special thing to be world champion. 

On whether she'd compete at the world Rubik's cube championships if she had the ability to win it 

No. 

On whether she'd compete in the Ultraman World Championships if she won the Ironman World Championship 

Yes. 

On if she'd compete in the Ultraman World Championships if there was an Ultra515 World Championship and she won it 

No. 

On what the heck it means to be a world champion in the context of her answers to the previous two questions 

It's the sport and the people. You can't take the smile off my face when I toe the line for an Ironman. I'm always nervous the night before a race. I have trouble sleeping. I'm always scared and excited. The Rubik's cube thing isn't the challenge I'm looking for. There's a physical and mental aspect. 

On if she knew that Canada had changed brands 

No, I wasn't aware that Canada was no longer an Ultraman event until I saw your earlier blog on it. I looked at the Ultraman website before registering and didn't see that it had changed, and I never heard back from anyone at Ultraman after I emailed them. 

[Note: I reached Sheryl Cobb after this interview. She told me that they never received an email from Kate and that the rules were changed to reflect the new relationship with Canada immediately after Steve Brown's press release. Here is the language under section 34, "Qualification for Entry," of the Ultraman rules and guidelines on the website: At a minimum it is expected that the applicant will be a former finisher of an Ultraman event (Canada—prior to 2015, United Kingdom—prior to 2014, Florida or World Championships) and have completed an event with at least a 2.4 miles swim, 112 miles bike, and 26.2 miles run or equivalent in the previous 18 months to the Ultraman Event for which they are applying. Other ultra distance events are also considered as qualifiers assuming they have distances equal to or greater than iron distances. (Emphasis added)

My read on this is that Ultra515 still qualifies finishers for the Ultraman World Championships. Remarkably, there is no mention of Ultraman Australia in the rule.]

On if and when she'll be able to walk away from triathlon after a world championship or the end of her pro career 

No. My partner and I will go back as age-groupers. I'm never walking away. It's who we are. We have a coaching company and I'm passionate about supporting my athletes when they qualify for Kona.

Where to from here? 

The Ironman World Championship isn't enough. I'd love to compete in Roth. I want to branch out to ultra later in my career. I want to run in Western States and other events. I think Ultraman is the right distance between Ironman and the really crazy triple Iron distances. I think a lot of professional athletes think about doing the ultra distance, but there are of course financial pressures during your career. I think in fact you'll see more pros going to ultra after they retire.

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