Tasmanian Olympian Jake Birtwhistle is preparing to test himself at the debut of IRONMAN 70.3 Tasmania in nipaluna/Hobart next Sunday 5 February.
Birtwhistle, who represented Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and medalled at the Gold Coast 2018 and Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, will contest his first ever IRONMAN 70.3 in his home state next Sunday.
More than 1,200 athletes from across Australia and around the world will take on the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Tasmania, with competitors to complete a 1.9km swim, 90km ride and 21.1km run before finishing on the Hobart waterfront.
28-year-old Birtwhistle is looking forward to stepping up to race his first IRONMAN 70.3, with it being in his home state adding to the occasion.
“The Tasmanian race had a big impact on my decision, I’ve been playing with the idea of doing some long course racing over the last 12 to 18 months but realistically I didn’t think I’d do it until after next year, after 2024, until then my focus will still be on the Olympics, I want to get through this next Olympic cycle and give it everything that I’ve got and then after that I imagine I’ll switch over to the IRONMAN 70.3s and then eventually, maybe, IRONMAN, who knows,” said Birtwhistle.
“Being in Tassie, as a Tasmanian, it felt like too good of an opportunity to miss, especially when I was already getting motivated by the idea, that time will come soon when I will fully step up, but for now it’s a bit of an exploration to see what it’s all like and hopefully I’ll enjoy it and that will be the path I’ll lead after next year.
“It’s really exciting, I love Tassie, I’ll always come back here after the season and this is my home, it’s great to get some cool events like that down here, hopefully it will really show to the world, show to Australia, what we’ve got down here and what we’ve got to offer,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great event and I’m really looking forward to getting to have a big race like that in my home state which doesn’t happen too often.”
IRONMAN 70.3 Tasmania will provide Birtwhistle with a good opportunity to see where he stacks up against some of the top IRONMAN 70.3 athletes in the region, taking on the likes of Kiwi Braden Currie and fellow Australians Josh Amberger, Charlie Quin, Nic Free and Tim Van Berkel.
“I’m definitely excited to race, I had these visions of tearing the world up in training leading into it but unfortunately that’s not the case, I’m tracking pretty well for this early point of the year, this will be a really good indicator for where things are at and obviously it’s a big day out for me, over double the normal distance that I race, if all else fails it will be a great training day,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it and am really excited, I’ll give it everything and have a red-hot crack and see what happens.
“I’m going in pretty blindly at this stage still, as I get a bit closer, in the last few days I might ask some beginner questions to some people, I think really I’m not changing too much, my training plan is still exactly the same as it would have been otherwise, I’m just spending a bit more time on the time trial bike which is a nice change,” said Birtwhistle. “The only real thing I need to wrap my head around is the nutrition which is obviously quite a lot different to Sprint and Olympic distance that I’m used to, that will be something that is completely new to me but it’s all a part of the excitement of doing the first one.”
Birtwhistle is hoping for some local support next Sunday to get him through the 113km of racing in and around Hobart.
“I’d love to get a bit of help out there to carry me through the course because no doubt it’s going to be a tough one, I don’t know the roads too well but I’ve heard it’s hilly so I’ll be expecting a tough day which I think will be hurting most people’s legs through the backend of the run,” said Birtwhistle. “I’d love a bit of home support, I know I’ll have my family down there to support and it’s just nice to have an easy race to get to, I can just pack up the car and drive down, it’s going to almost feel like a local race for me but it’s obviously that next level up which is really cool.”
Athletes racing at IRONMAN 70.3 Tasmania will complete a 1.9km swim course in the Derwent River that hugs the historic Battery Point before embarking on a 90km ride with the most vertical gain of any IRONMAN 70.3 bike course in Oceania. The 21.1km run will follow the intercity cycleway out past the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and Princes Wharf No.1 will be the final destination, the world-famous red carpet at the IRONMAN 70.3 finish line.