In 2018, Cody Beals, the Guelph, Ont. native, had a dream season on the long course scene. “2018 will be a tough act to follow,” says Beals. “If I can come close to repeating last year’s success, I’ll be on cloud nine.”

Cody Beals won Ironman Mont-Tremblant in his debut race.

Beals began his 2018 campaign with a win at Ironman 70.3 Taiwan and then went on a winning streak to close out his season. Those wins didn’t come without competition. At Ironman 70.3 Victoria, Beals beat Brent McMahon, a four-time Ironman champion. Then, at Ironman 70.3 Eagleman, Beals set a course record and reclaimed his 2016 title (he’s now a three-time winner at Eagleman).

But what really put the icing on the cake was Beals’ last two races – Ironman Mont-Tremblant and Chattanooga. In Tremblant, Beals made his debut at the full distance and won. He also set the bike course and overall course record. “Before Tremblant I was nervous, but with Lionel (Sanders) there, it took all the pressure off and put me in an underdog position,” says Beals.

At Ironman Chattanooga, Beals proved Mont-Tremblant wasn’t a one-off and rode away from Matt Russell, the 2018 sixth-place finisher at the Ironman World Championship.

Cody Beals on the run at Ironman Mont-Tremblant.

Related: The remarkable comeback of Matt Russell

With 2018 done, Beals will likely never be an ‘underdog’ again. “At this point in my career, after a great year in 2018, I now have the pressure or expectation that when I go to a race, I expect to win,” says Beals. “After two Ironman wins, I got a lot of attention and said yes to a lot of interviews, media promotions and podcasts. Being an introvert by nature, I struggled with the attention, and it burnt me out.” Following his success, Beals said he accepted approximately 100 invitations in just a month.

Following the whirlwind, Beals needed to dial things back. “Finding balance has been important these past few months,” says Beals. “Now, after some time away, I’m on much better footing.”

2019 presents new challenges and Beals plans on facing them head on and debuting at the biggest race in the world of triathlon – the Ironman World Championship. “I took my Kona slot after my win in Chattanooga, and it’ll be one of my main focuses,” says Beals. “It’s hard to say no to the opportunity. The triathlon world revolves around Kona, so it would look pretty odd if I turned it down.”

Cody Beals set the bike course record at Ironman Mont-Tremblant.

Related: Cody Beals expected to race Ironman Mont-Tremblant before Kona

That said, Beals doesn’t plan on putting Kona down as a learning experience. “Kona is a race with a lot of risks, and for me, aiming for something less than a top 10 is a waste of time,” says Beals.

To work towards that goal, Beals has a great support group and training partners. “Here in Guelph, I train with Taylor Reid and Jackson Laundry,” says Beals. “Reid has been on fire of late and is looking to have a big race at Challenge Cancun. And Jackson I train with a lot and he continually pushes me.”

Related: A big weekend for Canadian triathletes

Other than Kona, Beals has a number of other races planned for 2019. “Working backwards from Kona, I will aim to defend my title at Mont-Tremblant – eight weeks before Kona,” says Beals. “I’ll also do a third Ironman in July. I know this may be a bit of a gamble, but my schedule is set up to focus on 70.3s early and switch to the full later.”

Beals will kick off his 2019 season at Ironman 70.3 Taiwan (March) – a race he won last year, and will then join Reid at Challenge Cancun (half distance) in April. Following a quiet May, Beals will try to defend at Ironman 70.3 Victoria and Eagleman. After four 70.3 races, Beals will shift to the Ironman distance and compete in July, August (Mont-Tremblant) and October (Kona).

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