We catch up with Nathan Shearer on this episode of The Kona Edge. Coming from a semi professional cricket background Nathan changed tack to focus on triathlon and has carved himself a groove in Ironman. This is his story.
BRAD BROWN: Joining us all the way from Melbourne in Australia, Nathan Shearer onto The Kona Edge, Nathan welcome, thanks for taking the time to chat to us today.
NATHAN SHEARER: Thanks very much for getting me on Brad, it’s an honor, thank you.
BRAD BROWN: Nathan, let’s look at what you did last year at Ironman World Championships in Kona, you got yourself a 5th overall in your age group, so a pretty decent performance, if you ask me, I think overall time of 9:18:02, you must be pretty stoked with that.
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, I was, stoked is probably a good way to put it. I didn’t really know what to expect, it was my first time there, so to come away with a bowl, which for those who don’t know, if you get on the podium in Kona, they give you a Kao which is a traditional water [bowl?] in Hawaiian culture, and that’s the trophy. I managed to get a bowl, that’s a pretty huge deal for anyone who goes to Kona, I guess if you get there, that’s what you’re trying to achieve, it was pretty cool, pretty surreal.
BRAD BROWN: I’m sure. Nathan, let’s go back and look at where it all began for you, from a triathlon point of view. Has triathlon always been your sport or do you come from one of the disciplines and have transitioned over to tri?
NATHAN SHEARER: I come from none of the disciplines, which a lot of people don’t like hearing, but not everyone comes from the swim, bike or run in this sport, being a pretty new sport. I was actually a cricketer.
BRAD BROWN: That’s awesome, I love hearing stories like that, because it gives a lot of people hope that you can excel in the sport, if you are athletic, but you don’t have to have an out and out triathlon background, cricket is a massive sport in Aussie, you’ve obviously been playing it since you were pretty young.
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, I grew up with a bat and ball in my hand, my first birthday present was a little signature cricket bat and ball, so yeah, I played cricket for 23/24 years, pretty much entire life, from Milo cricket over here, which is 4/5 year olds, all the way up until I was 24, or 25 even, until pretty recently.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about it, we’ve obviously got a very big international audience, lots of people from the UK, lots of Aussies, but we’ve also got a fair deal of Americans and Canadians who listen, cricket is obviously not a big sport over there, but from an athletic perspective, over the years and we can talk some Aussies, I think of the likes of David Boon, he wasn’t the most athletic of characters, cricket has changed now, but it never used to be the most athletic of sports was it?
NATHAN SHEARER: No, it wasn’t and even when I was playing, the standard of fitness was completely different to what people expect in the triathlon world and what a professional level of fitness in triathlon is almost non-existent in cricket and it’s not even perceived. I didn’t really know what fit was until I started triathlon and got fit in an aerobic and endurance sense and then it kind of recalibrated what, the level of fitness and endurance ability needed to be successful in triathlon. In cricket I thought it was, but in reality wasn’t really.
BRAD BROWN: Were you more of a batter or a bowler?
NATHAN SHEARER: I was a batter, I was a top three, so 1,2,3 in most of my career.
BRAD BROWN: The switch then from cricket to triathlon, how did that come about?
NATHAN SHEARER: I was playing kind of semi-professionally over in England and in Australia cricket and I’d spent two consecutive Australian winters in England, playing cricket, as well as the summer seasons here. I pretty much played five seasons of cricket, just straight back to back and I got a bit burnt out by it. After my last season in Australia I did a sprint triathlon in April and massively intimidated, under-done, not fit, not prepared like I thought I was, but got thoroughly hooked and my next race was a half Ironman, 6/7 months later and that was it, I was in, I gave up cricket, triathlon was it.
Giving up cricket to move to triathlon
BRAD BROWN: Much more fun. I quite interesting you say that you did that sprint and I’m not sure if it’s like that in Australia, but we’re finding a lot of the ex-professionals are switching over to tri and we’ve had quite a few professional rugby players do Ironman South Africa. I think of Joel Stransky, he was the hero of the ’95 rugby World Cup squad here, there’s been a lot of rugby players, but a few of the cricketers have switched over as well. Andre Nel, former South African fast bowler, he’s done a few Ironman, he just did Ironman South Africa again, Jacques Rudolph who has played for the Proteas as well, is it pretty much the same in Aus, are you finding a lot of the guys who come from a professional, semi-professional sporting background, and whatever code it is, cricket or whether it be Aussie rules or rugby union, are they making the switch to Ironman as well?
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, I think you can pull examples from a lot of sports in Australia for high achievers in any kind of profession or field, whether it’s sport or otherwise. It tends to appeal to that kind of personality and people of that nature. Mattie Rogers was a rugby league player over here, he played rugby league for Australia and he’s done a multitude of Ironman’s. I know Clint Kimmins a little bit, he was a professional surfer and now he’s a professional triathlete, so yeah, it does crossover a fair bit and I have a lot of friends who followed a similar path to me in that they played pretty high level cricket, kind of wanted to change or try something else and got into triathlon and now they’re big into it as well.
BRAD BROWN: Nathan, I find it quite interesting, cricket is obviously a team sport, there are individual disciplines to it, you’re out there as a batter on your own, with a partner, at the end of the day it’s up to you to make it work, Ironman is very sort of, solo. You’re on your own pretty much for most of it, have you found that transition easy to make?
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, I did, a lot of the things that I was getting very jaded with in cricket, so not necessarily the game itself, but the politics of team sport and sport at an elite level, especially in a team environment, was coming into it and I probably didn’t handle that as well as I maybe would now, from a mental point of view and jumping into triathlon, everything was in your control and whatever wasn’t in your control, I didn’t worry about, whereas in cricket, I worried about everything, whether I could control it or not. I actually found it suited me better in that sense, if that makes sense.
BRAD BROWN: Absolutely, I find it interesting too, as a top order batter, you obviously need the skills to be able to perform at the top level, but you need to be very mentally tough as well, to fight tough patches out, have you found that’s helped you in triathlon, your mental strength?
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, absolutely and I think cricket set me up in a lot of ways to excel at triathlon pretty quickly. Once I got the kind of physical aspects of triathlon behind me, I think mentally I was already pretty well prepared to go well in that I could deal with perceived pressure and I became very process oriented. I didn’t ever look too far ahead and that’s probably the best way to race, I feel. You just worry about the next, what’s happening right now, not an hour or two down the track because you start thinking that way and the wheels can come off, so to speak.
BRAD BROWN: Nathan, why Ironman, why the long ones? You mentioned you fell in love with the sprint, you went on and did a half, but you’ve obviously really enjoyed doing the long ones?
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, when I was in England, I watched, it was the year Pete Jacobs won in Kona and I watched the replay on YouTube and then I watched [inaudible 0.09.25] win from the year before on YouTube as well and I sort of got hooked into, not necessarily Kona, I had no idea what that meant until I probably went there and then it really hit me as to just how big that is, but just the idea of battling away for potentially 17 hours, from a mental point of view, that appealed to me. As a cricketer, as you know, it’s a pretty long sport, at the top level, four and five day cricket and it’s a long game of chess. I kind of saw Ironman in the same way and that appealed to me. It’s not for everyone, but it definitely appealed to me more than the shorter stuff.
The Ironman switch
BRAD BROWN: Was it a big decision to make the switch from cricket to Ironman, particularly, Australia has got a very rich cricketing history, I’m sure as a boy, you would have loved to play for your country and put on the baggy green, but that must have been a tough decision to make, I don’t know if you’ve walked away totally, but to walk away from the sport and have a go at something else.
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, it was and it wasn’t. I finished the season of cricket, not on a low, but definitely burnt out, from three, pretty much three years of playing straight and I just needed something else to do, to focus on. I went and did that sprint and then I joined a squad and kind of put myself into triathlon as a lifestyle and when it came back to cricket pre-season, I was like, oh, I’ll go to pre-season and I’ll see if the fire is still there and I went to two training sessions and I just knew that I didn’t want to commit because you know, it was commit 100% or not at all, it was an easy decision, to be honest.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about that decision, to do that first Ironman, you said it challenged you mentally and the idea of being out there possibly for 17 hours, you’ve proved that the wheels have got to come off really badly for you to be out there for 17 hours, but the decision to do your first Ironman, it’s a long time out there. It’s a huge physical challenge, so talk to me about what went through your mind before you hit that ‘enter’ button.
NATHAN SHEARER: I entered Ironman, so Ironman Melbourne was my first one and it was a year after I did that sprint race, so March the following year and I actually entered it before I’d entered that sprint, which sounds ludicrous, but I kind of, as I said, I’m not necessarily impulsive, but if I’m going to do something, I’m 110% all in, I’m going to do it properly or I’m going to give it my very best change/shot. I just pulled the trigger, I was like, stuff it, if I sign up, I’ve got no choice!
BRAD BROWN: I love that, that’s so funny, it’s very similar, the Aussies and the South Africans are very similar in that sort of sense, our psyches are very similar and you look at the endurance sport here, particularly, people start running to run the Comrades Marathon, as an example and the Aussies are very much the same. We rate ourselves as quite the athletic nation, so it’s good to hear that Nathan. As far as going into that first race, did you go in there with aspirations? You’re obviously competitive, you’ve played cricket at a high level, did you go in there going, you know what, I just want to finish this thing or were you going to race it?
NATHAN SHEARER: No, I was going in to enjoy it. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done an Ironman in my first 12 months, I would have waited an extra year, but having already entered, I had no choice, which was a good thing in the end. I’d had a full summer of racing halves and started out just not racing necessarily, just worrying about myself and trying to get around and have a good day and enjoy it and after I’d done that a couple of times, it was like, all right, my coach was kind of of the thought that, try and race one and see what happens and then when it came to Ironman first time around, he just pulled me right back and said, just conserve all day and enjoy yourself. Don’t get bitten by the distance and I see that a lot, guys or girls go in, athletes go in with too much expectation, especially first time round, it’s such an unknown, I think you’ve just always got to be conservative and certainly for me, I really enjoyed my first Ironman and I look back at it going, I didn’t really have a bad patch all day and I just, I absolutely fell in love with it, because of the experience. Some people get bitten really badly by the experience and I think that’s just such a shame.
BRAD BROWN: On that first one, you mentioned not having a bad patch, was there anything that surprised you? It’s a big jump from a half to full distance, was there anything that really surprised you on race day?
NATHAN SHEARER: I think, yeah, so probably just how long a day it is was really surprising because it goes so quickly, which sounds, that’s a bit of an oxymoron, but in the moment, you’re just focused on yourself the whole time and I got to 2-3km left in the run and went, where the hell has that gone, kind of deal and so it’s a long day, but it’s a quick day and I think all the work, the enjoyment for me is in training, more than the race. The race is like the fruit of all your labour that you do in training. So yeah, it was surprising probably how quickly it felt like it went, that was the biggest surprise for me.
BRAD BROWN: As far as your result in that first one, can you remember your splits?
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, roughly, I swam in 1:05, I think I rode for 4:54 and I ran 3:10.
BRAD BROWN: For a first time out, that’s phenomenal Nathan.
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, so again, super new to the sport, I didn’t really realize, that was a 9:20 overall time and I had nothing to calibrate that against, for myself, so I didn’t know that that was that good, really. I felt like I executed pretty well on the day and like I said, I didn’t really have a bad period and I was able to run pretty strong at the end, which that was the goal all along, not to blow yourself to bits. I think with time I’ve kind of, it’s sunk in, that’s not achievable for everybody and I’m pretty lucky to be able to do what I do it, at the level I’m able to do it.
BRAD BROWN: From an age group result, in that first Ironman Melbourne, how did you fair there?
NATHAN SHEARER: I think I was 9th –
BRAD BROWN: No ways! That’s incredible, a 9:20 and you finish 9th, coming out of that race, when did you decide you want to go and race one?
NATHAN SHEARER: So, pretty much coming out of that summer and that race, we reassessed with my coach and I think he saw pretty early, just maybe what I was capable of with time in the sport. So, the goal then was to qualify for Kona 2015, so the next, obviously I missed out for that year, which was 2014, so to qualify the next time around and I just went back and did Melbourne again the following March.
BRAD BROWN: How did you go second time out in Melbourne?
NATHAN SHEARER: Completely different in terms of the day, I went quicker, but I suffered big time for it and that’s the difference between just racing your own race and actually, or just running your own race as opposed to trying to race other people. I had gone onto the run that day fully going for it, trying to win. I think I was 3-4 minutes behind the leader and I went after it and 18km in at special needs I blew up deluxe.
Bouncing back when you blow up in an Ironman
BRAD BROWN: How do you bounce back from something like that?
NATHAN SHEARER: Go to Kona and have a good race, I don’t know. You’ve got to take it for what it is, you can’t dwell on it too much. I don’t regret trying to win and I think, I learnt more and I got more out of that race than I did from the year before when everything went pretty much right.
BRAD BROWN: Isn’t that always the case though, you learn more from when things go horribly wrong and that’s in anything in life, whether it be cricket, triathlon or life in general.
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, definitely. I think that race taught me that I could, even when the wheels, when everything goes wrong and you feel completely gone, I could still get a result, I could hang tough and just guts out and I came third that day in my age group and ran 3:30 with a 2 hour second half of the marathon. You know, it went really badly really quickly, but I was able to just hang in there and keep moving and salvaged, you know, the goal was to qualify for Kona and I got that, so I probably learnt how to tough it out mentally, how to survive from that day.
BRAD BROWN: As hard as that must have been to blow up like that on the run, it must also fill you with a bit of, I don’t want to say confidence, knowing that you did what you did in the run the previous year, that if things do come together and slot into place, you could put in a pretty good performance, if you’re racing hard and everything works out on race day?
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, I did, you’re absolutely right. I was disappointed that I didn’t run to what I knew I could, or what I thought I potentially could run, but at the same time I ran 3:30, which was not terrible by any stretch. I was kind of like, in that case, even if things go horrible, I’m still going to run 5 minute K’s for the marathon and all isn’t lost kind of thing. That actually put me in really good stead for Kona cause not everything went right there either.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about the buildup, before we get to race day in Kona, did you change anything in the buildup to Kona, as opposed to that second buildup to Melbourne?
NATHAN SHEARER: Absolutely, I changed everything! As is my nature Brad, like I said, I was 110%, so for Melbourne the second time around, I coached myself for that race and learnt a lot and then for Kona I took what I learnt out of that buildup and tweaked it, changed it, did what I thought I needed to do in terms of changing the program to get a result in a different race. Melbourne was pretty flat, Kona is hot and hilly and it’s windy, so I needed to be stronger rather than just flat out fast. Yeah, I changed a fair bit. I swam a hell of a lot more because that was still my weakness, obviously open water, no wetsuit in Kona, so that was one thing. I probably biked less, but I did more intensity and a lot more strength-based work. Just to kind of continue my development, I had the base now, but I didn’t have the top end that takes that extra bit of time to develop as a cyclist and the strength for the course in Kona, it’s pretty hilly and as I said, it’s windy. Then I ran more as well, just more volume, more strength based, aerobic running, which the run is probably my strongest, but coming from no background in any of these sports, it probably took me that first two years just to get an aerobic base going. I had to change stuff just to kind of mirror my development, if that makes sense.
BRAD BROWN: If you could go back, knowing what you know now, after having raced in Kona, yeah, you picked up a 5th, would you change anything in that preparation in the buildup?
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, I made a couple of silly mistakes which, in hindsight, you wouldn’t make those, but they’re great learning for this year, which I fully hope to take the lessons learnt from that. I didn’t listen to my body properly in Kona, I got, I historically had some problems on my right side, just from a bit of imbalance and everything got a bit tight on that side of my body and I kind of neglected it. I didn’t get a massage or anything, I’ll be right on race day type deal and yeah, it kind of locked up on the bike and I had my issues for a few hours, I was able to come out of that hole, but I think if, you know, hindsight is a wonderful thing. If you just get that type of stuff ironed out before the race, potentially that doesn’t happen and you don’t have to suffer for a few hours, so yeah, that would be the big one.
The Ironman Kona Experience
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about Kona, the experience and not necessarily the race, but everything around it, the aura and the vibe when you arrive on the Big Island, your experience going in, had you done lots of research in the buildup to it, or was it all pretty new to you and just soaking it all in?
NATHAN SHEARER: It was all really new. I had one friend of mine, a good friend, went the year before for the first time and got a lot of what I knew about it, but even then, I didn’t research much and I didn’t ask a lot of questions either. I just wanted to experience it from that point of view. I was lucky enough to go pretty early, so I went about 3 and a half weeks out from race day, just coming from Melbourne cold climate, felt I needed that time and Kona is beautiful. A small town, it’s on the base of a volcano on the water, and before that 10 days before the race it’s really, really quiet, which is just bizarre and really nice. It’s kind of a sleepy town, but the closer you get to race day, the more crazy it gets, it’s a circus, it’s bizarre. It’s the most intense place I’ve been in race week, by a mile.
BRAD BROWN: It’s funny you say that because I think everybody I’ve spoken to has mentioned how intimidating it is when the racing snakes arrive and you’re a racing snake yourself, but you look at the bodies and you think to yourself, how the hell did I end up here!
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, it was like that, everyone looks like a fitness model, it’s bloody ridiculous! I take heart in this, you look at some guys and girls and they come in depleted and they look fantastic, but in the back of your head you’re thinking, I’m going to go quicker, so it doesn’t really matter what you look like. Some of the top professionals don’t look that good, from just an aesthetic point of view, but man, they’re quick, so it doesn’t really matter what you look like. You can psyche yourself out in Kona, definitely. I think you’ve just got to worry about yourself.
BRAD BROWN: Did you get caught up in all the side shows, the Underpants Run, all of that sort of stuff or did you kind of stay away from it and focus on race day ?
NATHAN SHEARER: I didn’t do the Undie Run, I did Parade of Nations and I was there to enjoy it. I wasn’t there to race, it was a bit like my first Melbourne or my first Ironman, just go and enjoy yourself and enjoy the experience. A few guys I know have gone in with huge expectations and just completely fizzled and I didn’t want to do that, I just wanted to enjoy it. It’s a huge achievement, but at the same time, it’s not cheap to go to Kona, as anyone who has been would know, so I think you’ve got to maximize your first time. Like me, I was planning to go back and I sort of thought, I’d make the most of this trip cause it’s all new and I want to experience all of it and then next time you can pick and choose and focus on yourself. Yeah, I wanted the experience and I had it, so it was good.
BRAD BROWN: Awesome, as far as the race itself goes, you mentioned the conditions are very different to coming out of Melbourne, you train to winter basically to get to Kona, the course itself is very different to the Ironman Melbourne course, talk me through your race day in Kona. Obviously things worked out, you finished 5th, you probably feel you could have gone faster, but you had a pretty good day out in the end.
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, definitely, Kona from a purely course profile point of view, except for the swim, but bike and run alone, suits my strengths. It’s hilly, it’s pretty
It’s more of an attritional strong man’s type course, which mentally more than physically, or at least equally, as physical suits me. Melbourne being a flat, quick course probably didn’t suit me as much, but Kona did. The swim, I got into the water really early, which was lucky, so I ended up 2nd from the start, from the front of the start, about 10m off the wall, which is probably, I shouldn’t have been there, I’m not that good of a swimmer, and I got smashed in that first 500m, but it set me up for a pretty decent swim in pretty ordinary conditions, even for Kona, then on the bike, definitely made the rookie error of riding too hard early. It’s a bit hilly in town before you actually get onto the Queen K and there’s people everywhere, you’re trying not to get done for drafting, but at the same time, you’re not trying to burn any matches while riding too hard. It was kind of like, what do I do here, do I sit and potentially lose 5 minutes or do I keep the hammer down and overtake a lot of people and try and stay out of the draft zone.
I took the latter option, I sat and I think experience would have made all the difference there, if I had it, but I didn’t. I felt good, as you do, tapered, you know, 5 minutes into a bike ride, so yeah, that first 40km I rode way too hard, but I felt amazing at the same time, kind of looking at numbers and thinking, I’m probably riding a bit too quick, but no, not to the point where it might be detrimental and I got to Hawi in really good time and I felt really good. I stopped for special needs, grabbed all that stuff, started the descent and I think that broke up my rhythm a bit because descending out of Hawi is quite long and it’s in the crosswinds, it’s pretty brutal. You don’t get to just head off at your rhythm, you’re kind of in and out of high power and then just freewheeling and fighting the wind and then there’s quite a long climb from Kuai which is at the base of the climb to Hawi back to the Queen K and it was there, my back and right hamstring started to get really tight and kind of lock up, which was what was happening before the race, but nowhere near this bad. So, probably 115km all the way back to town, it was just super tight, I was uncomfortable [inaudible 0.31.04], I couldn’t push the Power that I was pushing riding out there, so I just kind of, it was like, all right, I can’t push that, there’s no point worrying about it, just push what you can push and eat and drink and worry about the run.
So struggled a bit coming back to town and a bit of a headwind when you’re coming back, so it’s definitely the hardest part of the ride, I feel, but I got off the bike in pretty good time and in not too bad a shape. I had probably never raced in heat like that either, so it was all a bit new to me. Got onto the run and just that first
K goes along Alii Drive, do it’s really still, it’s really hot, there’s no wind and I suffered all the way through that first 16km and really in a deep hole, just how am I going to finish, this is craziness. Your mind goes to some pretty dark places when you’re feeling bad and I was running with this other Aussie guy and he’s like, just get to the next aid station, you can get water and ice, everything, you can cool down and I was like, hey, great idea, why didn’t I think of that! You’re kind of not thinking straight at this stage. So we get to the aid and I just started walking. I’d never walked in a marathon before, but I sort of was at the point where I was feeling, if I don’t walk, I’m going to end up walking half of this run, so I’ll walk every aid. I ditched all my nutrition, which I’d never done either. I switched to Coke and I had Coke, ice, water, sponges and walked every aid station from about the 10km mark.
The Ironman Kona Run
In Kona, they’re a bit closer together, they’re every mile, so every K and a half basically, and I walked every single one, which I came out of Alii and I came good, I started feeling better and then the rest of the marathon I ran amazingly well, so I was able to run my way from about 10th to 5th. Yeah, I think that was a prime lesson in just management, MacGyvering your way through a race when you know it’s not going your way or things aren’t going to plan, you try Plan B. Don’t be afraid to try stuff, even if you’d never tried it, you’re already in a really bad way, so you might as well just see, what can I do to make myself feel better right now and try it. It was good, finished better than I probably felt midway through the race, which was awesome.
BRAD BROWN: That is awesome. Nathan, you mentioned your first time Ironman Melbourne and that experience and your first one you’ll never forget, your first race in Kona and that finish is special, you’ll probably never forget that either.
NATHAN SHEARER: No, definitely I won’t. Coming back to, off the Queen K, so you turn right and go downhill, down Pualani and once you get to there, there’s just people everywhere, so off the Queen K it’s still pretty quiet out there, once you come onto Pualani, it’s just noise and I was quite lucky, I was finishing kind of at, not at sunset, but close to, so it was kind of twilight light, everyone is still out, there’s people everywhere and you do this little loop through town before you get to the finish and just like, I knew I was secure and fit as well, at that stage, so I was able to just run easy and enjoy it and I got given a little Aussie flag just before the 200m and I still, one little regret is not soaking it up more, but 9 hours into a race, you’re not really thinking about that, you’re just trying to get there and my finish line posing is pretty shit too, so I’ve got to work on that.
BRAD BROWN: I was going to say, you’re going to have to go back and sort that out.
NATHAN SHEARER: I know yeah, I agree!
BRAD BROWN: Nathan, if I say the word ‘Kona’, what do you think?
NATHAN SHEARER: I think it’s hot, but I love it, I love the place, I fell in love with it as soon as I got there, I love Kona and even just as a place, and the people, not for the race itself, it’s just a beautiful part of the world.
BRAD BROWN: You’re pretty competitive, you’ve got big ambitions, you want to go back and win the thing, don’t you?
NATHAN SHEARER: I want to yeah, that’s my big goal for this year. I’m pretty lucky that Levi Maxwell, who has won the last two years there in our age group has gone professional now, so the door is open and someone has got to win, so why not me, that’s kind of my thinking.
BRAD BROWN: I love that, that attitude, I absolutely love Nathan. You talk about Levi turning pro, you’ve played semi-professional sport before, is it something that’s crossed your mind, maybe turning pro in this sport?
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah it has. I think probably, it’s a question that’s been asked of me more than I’ve actually put thought into it, I think. It was getting asked of me 18 months ago, the 2014/15 summer, I was starting to get pretty quick in the halves and get some results and getting myself into top 20, top 15 type, like in the overall race in halves and people love to ask that question, ‘when are you going to turn pro’ and for me, I never really entertained it, just because you can race at the front of the age group race, but if you can’t make the swim pact in the pro race, you’re not racing at all, you’re 2-4 minutes behind out of the water and you’re never in it. Until I can swim front group, I didn’t entertain it and it wasn’t until New Zealand that I actually did that race and had the result I had and kind of was like, all right maybe now this isn’t such a pipe dream and it’s actually, I’m not that far off and this could be a reality. It’s in the works for maybe 2017, we’ll see how the rest of this year plays out and how I develop as well, as an athlete, I think that’s important but my thinking and my coach work is that this, you can only turn pro once at my age, so I think you’ve got to be ready, both mentally and physically and until you are, I think you’re better off holding off.
BRAD BROWN: You mentioned New Zealand, you’ve raced already this year, obviously no Ironman Melbourne, that’s no longer, but you had a pretty good day out in New Zealand, tell me about that.
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, so another place that, Melbourne being cancelled was a blessing in disguise because Ironman Taupo and New Zealand is just unbelievable from a scenic and tourist point of view, it’s amazing. Same thing, I went there and fell in love with it, but from a racing point of view, it suited my strengths. It’s quite a tough course, it’s pretty hilly, but it’s pretty crappy road surface out there on the bike, so again, it suited that stronger type athlete, not necessarily someone who is super-fast and same on the run, so pretty undulating, no real flats and open water, like a fresh water wetsuit swim, that suited me as well, no chop, I could wear my wetsuit, I was swimming better now, so I was able to put it together, which you know, I probably believed for 12 months or more that I was capable of a race like that, it was just a matter of executing one and in New Zealand I was lucky enough to do that.
BRAD BROWN: Tell us how you went time-wise, because it was pretty impressive performance overall.
NATHAN SHEARER: I went 8:47, so do you want to hear the splits?
BRAD BROWN: Go for it, please.
NATHAN SHEARER: I swam 0:54, I rode 4:45 and I ran 3:01, I was
BRAD BROWN: Sorry, you were what overall?
NATHAN SHEARER: I was 14th or 13th, I can’t remember.
BRAD BROWN: Nathan, that’s incredible and obviously Kona on the cards for 2016, that’s the goal and you want to go and win the thing.
NATHAN SHEARER: Yeah, I’d love to, I think I’m capable of it, I’ve just got to get there in good shape and then execute, which there are two very hard things to do and I mentioned Levi Maxwell before, I think that’s what’s so impressive about him over the last two years in Kona is he gets there in peak condition and then he’s executed twice. That’s top level professionals do that and do it for a living and I’m not surprised that he’s a professional now because he’s done it two years in a row. I’m trying to emulate him, I think he’s a good yardstick for where you need to be in Kona in terms of time, sort of around that 8:50 mark, which I’m capable of that, it’s just a matter of actually doing it, is the hard part.
BRAD BROWN: Awesome, Nathan, that’s fantastic, I think we can wrap it there. What we’ll do, I want to get you on to chat a little bit about the individual disciplines, but we’ll save that for another day. What an incredible story, best of luck in the buildup to Kona 2016, I can’t wait to follow your journey.
NATHAN SHEARER: No worries, thanks for having me Brad, I appreciate the chat.