(Photo credit:  Ingo Kutschehttp://sportfotografie.biz)

Malte Bruns was the first amateur home at the 2015 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. 24th Overall Malte’s splits looked something like this: swim – 57:05, bike – 4:46:39 and run – 3:02:21 for a total time of 8:52:30.

The young German also broke his age group world record on the way to becoming the age group Ironman world champion for 2015 and he joins us on this edition of The Kona Edge to talk about his journey into triathlon.

Transcription:

BRAD BROWN:  We head to Germany now and joining us is the 2015 Ironman Age Group World Champion, Malte Bruns, welcome onto The Kona Edge, thanks for joining us today, it’s good to catch up.

MALTE BRUNS: Yeah, thanks for having me.

BRAD BROWN:  It’s two opposite ends of the world essentially. I’m sitting in Cape Town and it’s a beautiful day, slightly windy, but it’s warm. You’re in Germany and it’s not that warm, it’s been a pretty chilly day for you, it’s very different to what you experienced in Kona in 2015.

MALTE BRUNS:  It sure is. Weather in December was pretty warm in Germany, but at the moment, at night it’s freezing, so not warm anymore.

BRAD BROWN:  Malte, you had a massive 2015, obviously you achieved lots, have you taken a bit of time off after Kona or have you pretty much gone straight through and have kept on training?

MALTE BRUNS: Yeah, basically the week after the race I didn’t do much, but after that I kept on starting again and doing a bit of work because I was thinking of maybe doing a couple of other races after Kona, so I didn’t do a big break.

BRAD BROWN:  You’ve had the triathlon bug really bite you in a big way. It’s a sport that you haven’t been involved in for too long, but you’re loving life in triathlon right now.

MALTE BRUNS: Yeah, it’s amazing, you can just train so much right?

BRAD BROWN:  Malte, as we’re recording now, it’s the beginning of 2016, if we rewind a year and we were having this conversation now and I had said to you that you would have been the first age grouper home at Challenge Roth and you also would have been the first age grouper home at Ironman Kona, including breaking your age group world record, what would you have told me?

Winning Ironman Kona was unreal

MALTE BRUNS:  I would have said ‘ridiculous.’ I didn’t imagine in the slightest that I could be anywhere near that good, so it was quite a big surprise for me.

BRAD BROWN:  Looking back at your athletic life growing up, before we get into Kona and what you were able to achieve, were you an active kid? Were you always running around and riding bicycles, not triathlon necessarily, but has sport been a part of your life growing up?

MALTE BRUNS: Yeah, it always was. My parents are not the most sporty people, but active, so we do kind of like hiking holidays or when we’d go somewhere on holiday it’s usually we took our bikes and rode around and of course as a kid I was a bit active. I wasn’t good at soccer and that’s basically all the Germans do. I wasn’t really a sporty kid, but I used to run around and ride my bike everywhere and that kind of thing.

BRAD BROWN:  You talk about not being good at football, obviously growing up in a country that’s football mad and Germany is, the Bundesliga is huge, everybody plays football. Did you grow up, not with a complex, but think that, you know what, I’m not really good at anything from a sporting perspective? Obviously you’ve found your groove in triathlon now, was that tough growing up?

MALTE BRUNS:  It was kind of because I didn’t really think of myself as being good at sport because I couldn’t play football, and I wasn’t good at basketball or the other sports you did in school either. So, up until I was maybe 14 or something, I thought I really sucked at sport!

BRAD BROWN:  What made you change that thought process? To win at any level in sport you need to be mentally pretty tough and believe in yourself, what made you start believing in yourself?

MALTE BRUNS:  In 2006 I took a cycling trip all the way through France to Germany with a teacher of my school that was kind of a pilgrim thing going on, on the bike and there I really experienced that I was a strong biker, so yeah, but I started figuring, okay, maybe I’m not all that bad and later in the coming years I started running a bit and found out that I’m good at running when it’s not a sprint. Just took off after the first long cycling trip.

Is 24 too young to be racing Ironman?

BRAD BROWN:  You say ‘when it’s not a sprint,’ obviously from an endurance perspective you’re extremely strong, you’re still very young, how old are you right now?

MALTE BRUNS:  24 still.

BRAD BROWN:  24, from an endurance sport perspective, a lot of people will say to you, you’re crazy, you shouldn’t be doing the long things right now, you should be working on your speed and what do you say to those people that say you’re crazy, you should be doing sprint distance, Olympic distance triathlon now, you shouldn’t even be thinking about 70.3’s, never mind Ironman.

MALTE BRUNS: Well, last year, 2014 I did sprints and I was average at best, so yeah, that’s what I experienced in the past. I did 1500m on the track and I mean I was all right, but not stellar or anything, so yeah, it just seems like the endurance thing is just right for me, so why not stick with it?

2015 Ironman Age Group World Champion Malte Bruns

BRAD BROWN:  I think it’s important to find what you’re good at and I think that’s what you’ve done. You’ve figured out where your groove is and you’ve exploited that and I mean 2015 just shows exactly what you can do if you find what you’re good at and you work at it and you can achieve pretty much anything.

MALTE BRUNS: Yeah, just found my niche and it’s worked out pretty well.

BRAD BROWN:  Malte, where did your fascination with triathlon as a sport come from, where was the seed first planted?

Where the Ironman seed was planted

MALTE BRUNS:  It was in 2009 and we had a school trip to Barcelona and we were staying a lot in north Barcelona and I think it was Santa Susanna or something and it was right north of Calaya where I think at that point was Challenge Barcelona was starting and we were taking the train to the city in the morning and there were these big, orange buoys in the sea and I was thinking, what’s going on there and then we drove past the tents, the change area, the transition area and then I realized this is a triathlon, it’s the Ironman event going on there and on the way back home we walked past the run course at about 5pm and all kinds of people were running and just the spirit going on there, it really fascinated me. I already knew at that point that I was more of an endurance guy, I thought, yeah, at some point in my life I want to do this Ironman thing, that’s where I started thinking about it.

BRAD BROWN:  What took you so long to do your first one?

MALTE BRUNS:  I was still running track at that time, so 1500m and yeah, the road bike is always a big investment when you want to get into road cycling. That really stopped me, I was thinking, the road bike is so expensive, no, I don’t want to buy it, so that way I start with running and a bit of swimming for the moment.

BRAD BROWN:  You’ve obviously made that leap now and have proven what you can do from a triathlon point of view, talk to me about the decision of going, you know what, it’s now time. I’m going to get into triathlon, I want to do the Ironman, obviously I need to get my toe in the water – so to speak – do a couple of sprints, talk to me the process of when you started your first Ironman, what the thinking process was.

MALTE BRUNS:  Well, I got my first road bike in 2012, after I had a little injury of skiing, I had a strained something and I couldn’t really run, so I thought okay, let’s try a road bike, just to do anything. Then in 2013 I broke one of my vertebrae skiing and I lay in hospital for quite some time and I decided, okay, at some point in my life I want to do the Ironman and if I can get out of this, being able to run still, I want to do it now. In 2013 I decided, yeah, just get into triathlon and try to do the Ironman as soon as possible and then I joined a team in 2014 and started doing some sprints, just to get experience, find out how training for triathlon is like and everything.

Bouncing back from adversity

BRAD BROWN:  Malte, tell me a little bit about that accident. You talk about breaking your vertebrae, it was quite a scary event, it was bad, but could have been a lot worse.

MALTE BRUNS: Yeah, it was kind of a stupid skiing accident. I was skiing in the back country and there was a kind of narrow chute and I didn’t want to ski through it, so I wanted to climb through it, so I took off my ski’s and did the most stupid thing. Your dad is always telling you, when you’re young, when you climb down a ladder, which way you go, yeah, backwards. So yeah, of course, being me, the first step I took was forwards and I slipped, so I fell 4-5m, landing on my butt and that broke one of my vertebrae. Some people would walk out of such an accident without any injuries. I could have died, if I had been unconscious and laying in the snow there and nobody would have seen me, that would have been really bad. When I walked out of there with a broken thing, yeah, and being able to recover after that, I decided okay, now let’s do this.

BRAD BROWN:  Let’s talk about that first Ironman and training for it. You self-coached, which I find amazing. What’s the reason for that? Why did you decide to not do things with a coach and sort of figure things out for yourself?

MALTE BRUNS:  I don’t know, I just always, when I started in 2014 training for my first sprints, I always just did what I felt like doing and it felt all right to me and I didn’t really think about getting a coach.

BRAD BROWN:  The volumes that you do are pretty high as well and there’s various schools of thought with regards to, you should be doing less and high intensity stuff. You’re on the other school of thought where it’s all about volume and doing it at low intensity. Tell me your thinking behind that?

MALTE BRUNS:  I like to train a lot, so when you train for 5 hours on the bike, you get around a lot more, you can see more things and you can visit more places. So, yeah, I think that’s what got me into training for long times and I don’t have too much experience with interval training. Obviously from my track background I know how to run 200’s or something, but other than that, in swimming and biking, I had no experience with speed work and everything and so I just decided, yeah, stick with what you can do and what’s fun, so that’s what I just did.

BRAD BROWN:  You mentioned joining that group and doing your first few spring triathlons, were you training with a group or were you doing all your training on your own?

MALTE BRUNS:  I was basically training all on my own. I was living in a student’s dorm kind of thing and there was another guy from the team, but the team was actually based like 100km outside of Munich, so he was training for himself too and I was doing my own training and we just basically met for the races.

BRAD BROWN:  That’s incredible! When did you realize that you were actually pretty good at this triathlon thing?

2015 Ironman Age Group World Champion Malte Bruns

The first taste of Ironman in Lanzarote

MALTE BRUNS:  Basically it was just Ironman Lanzarote because before that I was, as I said, more average on the races. I mean I was racing the Bavarian League and maybe 2nd Bundesliga and triathlon and I was doing all right, but not really great.

BRAD BROWN:  Let’s talk Lanzarote. You’re going into that race, you’ve done a lot of volume, did you feel pretty good going into it and think that you could possibly have a shot of grabbing a slot at Kona?

MALTE BRUNS:  When I was looking at the times, I was thinking 11 hours would be realistic or it should be easily possible to do 11 hours and then I looked at the results from previous years and everything, so it came maybe below 10 hours. There’s a shot at the Kona shot, but yeah, I was thinking, okay, below 11 hours, that’s good, below 10 would be amazing and the Kona slot would be like the cherry on the cream on the pie.

BRAD BROWN:  What did you end up doing in Lanzarote, time-wise?

MALTE BRUNS:  I did a 9:32 I think.

BRAD BROWN:  Were you surprised?

MALTE BRUNS:  I sure was! Out of the swim I had no idea where I was and then on the bike people started telling me my positions. I think the first position I heard was like 30 or something. I remember just coming out right behind the first woman out of the water and passing her on the first maybe 5km on the bike and then I got more information where I stood on the bike and it was a hilly course, so I could overtake a lot of people on the climbs because I’m kind of light, so I’m really good at the climbs. Then I came into the run and realized I’m in a pretty good position and yeah, didn’t break on the run and when I realized I’m in the top ten, it was just incredible, just running towards the finish line and knowing you’re in the top ten position, you’re the best amateur in this race, it was just unbelievable!

BRAD BROWN:  Tell me what it’s like to finish an Ironman, in your words.

MALTE BRUNS:  It’s pretty cool. You’re allowed to stop after running, you know, biking whatever, for me 9+ hours and it’s just nice to be able to stop and be done with it and you know, knowing that you’ve accomplished something, that you didn’t get beaten up on the swim, you didn’t have tech on the bike or anything, you just made it through. That all your hard work towards the goal of finishing this really did pay off and you managed to do it.

Ironman Kona vs Challenge Roth

BRAD BROWN:  Funnily enough, I believe Ironman Kona wasn’t your goal for 2015. You got the slot and you ended up doing it, but you were chasing Challenge Roth, that was going to be your big race. You ended up doing both. Ironman Kona is an incredible race and a great experience, but Roth is pretty special too.

MALTE BRUNS:  Yeah, it’s just so huge. In Lanzarote there were some people on the beach in the morning and the villages, a couple of people and on the run some guys and the tourists there, but Roth, that’s just something completely different. I think this year there were 260 000 spectators, I mean that’s ridiculous. There are not even that many people in a football game in a stadium, so that’s kind of unique.

BRAD BROWN:  It is a special race and it’s one that I think a lot of people aspire to do. You perform pretty well in Roth as well, did that surprise you? I mean after Lanzarote you obviously knew you were pretty good and you had some ability, did you go into Roth with any expectations? What were you hoping for there?

MALTE BRUNS:  Yeah, I didn’t really go into it with any expectations, I just hoped to improve my time from Lanzarote and after finishing that I thought yeah, maybe in Roth the 9 hours would be possible, to break the 9 hour barrier. That was the whole point of the race, to break 9 hours.

BRAD BROWN:  How did you end up going in Roth overall?

MALTE BRUNS:  I came in 13th overall, fastest amateur again and 8:35 or 34 was my time.

BRAD BROWN:  That’s phenomenal! Malte, you talk about you love training and you love spending time on the bike and on the run. I put it out on social media saying that I was going to be talking to you and I asked if anybody has any questions and someone, funnily enough who we’ve interviewed on The Kona Edge, who also raced in Kona last year was Michael Girard and he wanted to know if you’ve got a girlfriend. Great question, but often people think, oh, there’s no ways I can do it, I’ve got a family, I’ve got a life, I’ve got a wife, maybe a girlfriend and kids. Are you involved?

MALTE BRUNS:  No, I’m not, that’s actually the main reason why I could do this in the way that I did.

BRAD BROWN:  Do you think that gave you a bit of an advantage over the other age groupers?

MALTE BRUNS:  Yeah, maybe, because I mean, when you’ve got a girlfriend, yeah, it takes time right? When I was staying with my family, you notice the time you spend with your parents at breakfast or dinner and lunch and yeah, with a girlfriend or with your own family, when you’re married or something, the time is just so much more important to spend with your family than training. It’s really kind of a challenge to divide the time between family and training and a job later on, so yeah, it made me do the long distance right now because I figured, okay, now I’ve got the time, now I’ve got no girlfriend who needs attention and no job, so I can do it just the way I want to do it.

Training for an Ironman triathlon

BRAD BROWN:  Let’s talk about that training. We spoke about high volume, talk me through a typical week for Malte Bruns. When you’re training hard, not between races or after Kona, but when you’re focusing, what does a typical week look like for you?

MALTE BRUNS:  I usually do 6 swims, 6 runs and 6 bike rides. The swim is usually 5km, so I usually swim in the morning, here the pool is opening at 6:00 or 5:45, so I’m getting up at 5:15, driving to the pool and swimming, getting home and having breakfast. Then I usually go out for the bike ride. On a good training week I do between 700-800km of biking, sometimes when I put the focus on the bike I land up doing over 1000km a week. After that the run, mostly in the evenings, here where I stay at the moment my typical running is 16km. I end up doing about 80-100km of running a week.

BRAD BROWN:  Do you end up doing all three disciplines every day or are there certain days that you skip? How does that work Malte?

MALTE BRUNS:  Usually I do everything every day. Usually the Sunday is the day without swimming where I sleep in and I skip one day the run and another day I don’t go for the bike ride, but I usually do something every day.

BRAD BROWN:  That’s pretty interesting. We also had a question asked about the camel bag. Tell us about the camel back and how that came in.

MALTE BRUNS:  Yeah, when I did my first marathon in 2014 I thought, yeah, maybe it would be good to carry a camel bag, to be able to be able to properly hydrated. I actually did my Bachelor thesis about hydration levels during sports. Yeah, I knew hydration is really important during the long races, so I used it for my first marathon and it was pretty fun because at the first feed station I was running with the lead pack and they were all stopping for food and drink and whatever and I got a 30 second gap on them, just because I had the camel bag and I just continued running and they all stopped. After that, I was really confident in using that camel back, so I used it for the next races too.

BRAD BROWN:  Is that going to stay? Is that something you’re quite comfortable with now or now that you’ve got a bit of experience, you’ve got a few Ironman distance races under your belt, that might change?

MALTE BRUNS:  I’m not really completely sure about it yet. It worked good in the past. In Kona it wasn’t even that important because I stopped at a lot of stations because you can’t take 5 liters of water with you on the race. So there I had to stop and it still worked out pretty good. Yeah, I might not use it in the next years, it kind of depends on sponsors, when I get somebody to sponsor me for the camel bag thing, maybe I’ll use it and if I don’t, maybe not, because obviously you can’t see the logos of all the sponsors when you’re wearing the camel bag, so that’s something to think about in the future.

2015 Ironman Age Group World Champion Malte Bruns

BRAD BROWN:  Malte, it’s interesting you talk about using it because of hydration. Obviously the extra weight adds a dynamic to it as well, that you’re saving some time not having to stop at the aid stations, do you think even with the extra weight, having that benefit of not stopping outweighs the benefit of having the extra weight, if you know what I’m saying?

Malte’s Ironman hydration strategy – The camelbak

MALTE BRUNS:  Yeah, I think so. It’s a lot about the feeling too, I guess, because when you’ve got races, I think in Kona it wasn’t that important because all the aid stations were like exactly one mile apart. In Lanzarote and Roth they were sometimes I think 4km apart and when it’s hot, just this horrible feeling of feeling thirsty. When you’ve got the camel bag, you can just take a sip and you’re all good and when you don’t have it, you feel thirsty and you focus so much on the next aid station, like I have to get there, I have to get there, I need something to drink. I think that’s giving me an edge that I’m able to drink whenever I want.

BRAD BROWN:  What do you put in it?

MALTE BRUNS:  I had some electrolytes in it, so just electrolytes, no sugar, no nothing, but I had some gels with me, usually, in the breast pockets, so I usually take my own gels.

BRAD BROWN:  Let’s talk about Kona and that experience. You mentioned you went into Lanzarote with absolutely no expectations, you didn’t know what you were going to do and you were surprised. Roth, you obviously knew you had some ability at that distance and you had set a couple of goals. Going into Kona, what were your expectations into Kona? Did you go in there saying: I want to win my age group and I want to be the first amateur home overall?

MALTE BRUNS:  No, I just had some problems with the hills before that, so just leading up to the race, during August/September/October, so my expectations on race day were not that high. I thought yeah, maybe I could be pretty good because in all the races before I was the fastest amateur, but I didn’t want to dream too big.

BRAD BROWN:  You got there pretty early as well. You arrived with a bit of time to acclimatize, would you say that’s pretty important? For someone who is listening to this, who is possibly qualified already and going in 2016 or is wanting to qualify, would you advise someone to get there long in advance and acclimatize to the conditions on the island?

MALTE BRUNS:  I mean it’s nice to be able to do it. I was pretty lucky because I got in contact with the family from Hawaii and they took me in for the time. It’s important to be there at least two weeks earlier, just because it’s so hot. You in South Africa are probably used to it, in Germany it gets hot too, but not the humidity, that’s what really took a lot of time to get used to in Kona. You just drive home from the pool at 8:00 in the morning and you feel like you’re sweating out a liter in 20 minutes, that’s something I never experienced before.

BRAD BROWN:  It must have been concerning. You said you did your Master’s thesis on hydration, when that happens to you in the buildup to a race and you’ve never experienced that, did that concern you?

MALTE BRUNS:  No, not really, I figured out pretty fast on the bike how much I need to drink to stay hydrated and on the run, I usually had a bottle with me or left it by the roadside to just take some sips, but it wasn’t actually too bad. It just sounds horrible in the beginning when you just walk outside and whatever you wear, it feels like you’re wearing too much.

BRAD BROWN:  Malte, when you first got into triathlons and saw that Ironman in Barcelona where the seed was first planted, did you research about the sport and Ironman and the history behind Kona and all the folklore and that sort of thing, did you know much about it beforehand?

MALTE BRUNS:  No, not really, I think maybe I read sometimes the Wikipedia article about it and yeah, I think going into doing that, I didn’t even know a lot of names of the triathletes which are good at the moment.

BRAD BROWN:  Who is your favourite pro right now? Who do you look up to in the professional ranks?

MALTE BRUNS:  I don’t know, I cannot really say. You know, yeah, what can I say, I’m not really looking at it that way.

BRAD BROWN:  I love it, I look at your photos from Kona as well and you’re always smiling, to me, I get the sense that you’re not overwhelmed by it. You’re there and you love what you’re doing and you’re in the moment and you’re getting the results, it’s incredible.

MALTE BRUNS:  I mean I always try to do what I can and yeah, it’s always nice to be able to, not really put on a show for the spectators, but give something back when they yell something at you, try to react to it and you know, all these people are coming out and helping you to get a good time, so why not be nice to them and make their time good as well.

Building to Ironman race day

BRAD BROWN:  Malte, talk to me about your buildup to the race day. The day or two before, what do you do to get yourself ready, both from a physical perspective, but also from a mental perspective before that race, what do you do to get yourself in the zone?

MALTE BRUNS:  In Kona I didn’t really stop training before, I just did a couple of easy bike rides, not too much running leading up to the race just a little bit of swimming, a little bit of biking and I don’t know, I don’t think too much about the race. I just enjoy the free time I’ve got because I don’t train so much and I read a lot and relax and all that, but I don’t try to put too much pressure on me and on my performance in the race, I think that would just make it harder for me.

BRAD BROWN:  Your race in 2015 was incredible. Your splits, you swam a 57:05, your bike was a 4:46:39 and ran a 3:02:21, overall time 8:52:30. I mean to dip under 9 hours in Kona is phenomenal. Was that a surprise to you, were you secretly hoping to go under 9 or did that come as a total surprise?

MALTE BRUNS:  I saw the old record on my age group which was 8:55 or so and I thought yeah, somewhere back in my mind there was some, the thought was going around, I might be able to actually break that because I knew the swim, I knew it would be a little slower and I knew the bike and I knew if the wind wouldn’t be too bad, it would be kind of easy and then the run is not too hilly either, so yeah, there was a little thought about being able to break the record, but then again, Kona is so much about the wind, so it’s better not to put too much expectations out there because if the weather is not playing, you just feel like you can’t accomplish your goals and I think that’s actually making you weak, when you’ve got a specific goal and you realize early on that you can’t achieve it, you just feel bad and don’t focus on just doing your best.

BRAD BROWN:  What does it feel like to be on that course with all the history that surrounds it, racing it against the best triathletes in the world right now, that must be an amazing feeling?

MALTE BRUNS:  I mean it’s pretty cool just to be out there and knowing that all the people are looking at the race and everything, but yes, as I said before, I’m not too much into all the scene and the history. So for me, I know it sounds kind of bad for maybe all the people who really focus on Kona and for whom it’s a big, big goal to get there. For me it was more like, yeah, another race. I mean it was kind of, you know, the lava was there and it was hot and yeah, just saw all the pros, it was nice to see all the best triathletes in the world coming towards you near the turnaround, so that was really something.

BRAD BROWN:  Front row seats in one of the biggest races in the world, it must be phenomenal. Talk to me about the feeling of winning your age group and being the first amateur home, breaking that record, you must have been incredibly proud of what you’ve achieved in the year?

MALTE BRUNS:  Yeah, it was just amazing. I couldn’t believe it that I was able to stay on the pace that I set out on the run and yeah, just being there and knowing there is nobody in front of you in the amateur level, but nevertheless, it’s hard to describe.

BRAD BROWN:   24th overall in the entire race, you subsequently decided you want to give this thing a bash as a professional, am I right in saying that, that you are turning pro?

2015 Ironman Age Group World Champion Malte Bruns

MALTE BRUNS:  Yeah, I just got my pro license from the Triathlon Union. I just decided I wanted to continue doing it because the results were just speaking for themselves and I decided it would be nice to, in every race I beat all the other amateurs, so it felt wrong to race amateur again, plus my training is on the pro level. Also, it’s just new things, new opportunities for sponsors and new arrivals and everything, so that’s something I wanted to give it a go.

BRAD BROWN:  I’m interested and I’m glad that you brought that up. You’re saying racing the amateurs and you’re almost training like a pro, you look at your schedule and a lot of the age groupers that do race in Kona are involved, they are married, they do have full time jobs and I asked you about that, being an advantage, do you feel pressure now, going into your next season, knowing that you’re turning pro and everyone you’re going to be racing against is going to have the same sort of set up that you’ve got, that they can train as much as you do. Are you excited or are you nervous, how are you feeling about that?

MALTE BRUNS:  I’m really excited to be able to start with all the other people, especially in Roth and in Kona. It was kind of hard to start half an hour behind the pros, in the end in the run I ended up running on my own, just against the clock. So, I’m really looking forward to actually race in the pro field and be able to compare to those, like on eye level. I’m really looking forward to that, I’m not intimidated or anything.

BRAD BROWN:  What does your race schedule look like this year?

MALTE BRUNS:  It’s not completely set yet. I think I’ll stay more in the German/Europe area, because I’m also taking on again my Master’s degree in engineering, in mechanical engineering. I don’t want to travel too far to get to the races.

BRAD BROWN:  As far as just having to deal with the other pressures that now come with it, where people know that you’ve won your age group, you were the first amateur home at Challenge Roth, same at Kona, does that make you want to change anything and sort of increase volumes or possibly find a coach? Are you going to approach it exactly the same way as you did in the last year?

MALTE BRUNS:  No, I’m already in touch with a coach, so I start training with the coach soon. Yeah, I just feel it will improve, especially my biking a lot, when I’ll do intervals and speed work and maybe cut down a little bit on the volume.

What is Malte’s weakest discipline?

BRAD BROWN:  What would you say is the weakest for you out of the three disciplines?

MALTE BRUNS:  Just looking at the times, the bike has to be the weakest. I think at Challenge Roth I lost almost 35-40 minutes and I think at Ironman Kona it was 20-30 minutes or something on the bike. Yeah, that’s the biggest room for improvement.

BRAD BROWN:  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

MALTE BRUNS:  I think it’s a good thing. I mean I know I’m pretty good on the run, I’m pretty confident in my running and yeah, on the swim there’s a bit of room for improvement, technical-wise, but I really feel there’s a lot of room on the bike and I feel good that I know exactly what I can do better next year.

BRAD BROWN:  It sounds amazing. I think you’re in for an incredible journey and I loved finding a little bit more about you. Before we go though, there is one other question that a lot of people have been asking, what’s the deal with the beard?

MALTE BRUNS:  Kind of a random thing. My beard just grew and was quite a bit long and I saw a movie where a guy had kind of dreadlocks in his beard and I said to a friend, ‘hey, I should try that,’ and he said ‘yeah, whatever.’ Yeah, just did it and I really liked it, so I just stuck with it and after racing Lanzarote I knew that it was a good thing because it’s a trademark. Everybody is recognizing me when I’m swimming/biking/running, whatever, otherwise you just look the same with the goggles or the helmet on and with the beard, people are able to recognize me, it’s pretty good.

BRAD BROWN:  So it’s going nowhere, it’s staying?

MALTE BRUNS: Yeah.

BRAD BROWN:  I love it. Malte thanks so much for your time here on The Kona Edge, best of luck and we look forward to following your progress in 2016 and beyond, thanks for your time.

MALTE BRUNS:  Thanks a lot, you’re welcome.

You can touch base with Malte Bruns online here.

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