Having just turned 32, Alicia Kaye made the trip to Kona, Hawaii earlier this month to check out the Ironman World Championship. Originally from Ontario, she became an American citizen after she married US Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker.
In 2011 Kaye moved from the ITU race scene to focus on non-drafting Olympic distance racing, taking the Lifetime Fitness Series title in 2013 an 2014.
This year she has switched her focus to half-Ironman racing, finishing fifth at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
We caught up with Kaye in Hawaii as she began her recon mission of the world championship.
TMC: So what has brought you to the Big Island?
Alicia Kaye: I am here to check it out and see what the event is all about. I want to really watch race day and become a student of this next chapter, potentially, of my career. I am here with Lisa Bentley, someone who has been here so many times and been on the podium. She has been amazing at showing me the ropes. This is my first time in Hawaii – I am looking forward to taking it all in.
I am really hoping to learn as much as I can about the event and see if it lights a fire in my belly for the next step in my career.
You’re kidding, right? Anyone who knows you is 100 per cent sure you’re going to want to do this race.
Leanda Cave is a bit of a mentor of mine and, when I told her I had booked this trip she said “you’re wasting your time – you will want to go. You are going to see all the things you love and you are going to want to go. You are going to want to come back.”
Which is all rather entertaining, since I am pretty sure I even have audio of you saying you would never do a long distance race, let alone an Ironman.
I bet you do. I had never thought that I would go long. I was really in love with the Olympic distance, especially the ITU for a number of years, then I had the incredible opportunity to do really well in the Lifetime Series for four years. Then that went away. To continue to make a living in our sport required me to graduate up to that next distance. It has certainly been a learning experience. I think that I have a lot of improvement still to make – I think I can be a lot better. I am still making mistakes. I just have work to do, but I am really prepared to do it.
It has been quite a year already – congrats on your great finish at the 70.3 worlds.
I thought world’s was good, but that’s not why we do this. We train as hard as we do to win and that’s what I need to do if I want find a way to get to the top of the podium as many times as I can before this is all done.
That’s why I am here in Kona – it feels like the next chapter of my career. I have been a pro triathlete for over half my life and this is a big part of who I am.
But there has to be a viable argument for you to continue to racing the 70.3 distance for another year or two, isn’t there?
There is a lot of time, especially when I look at the female athletes who are dominating the sport – they are all in their late 30s … especially as you go longer. It is amazing to see athletes like Beth Gerdes coming back after having a baby. There is a lot of different paths to get to where you want to be in this sport. I think 70.3s are a great way to squeeze in more racing, because at the end of the day you can’t do 10 Ironmans in a year. So it’s figuring the balance between making a living in the sport and doing the thing that motivates you. It you don’t love it this is not a fun sport to do, and I truly do love it, so I want to make sure that going longer, taking that next step, is something that I am really passionate about, because that’s the only way to live life.
What is it about the Ironman World Championship that interests you?
This particular event stands out because how tough the course is, in addition to the fact that it’s a world championship. That really speaks to me. I think of courses like St. George and even Zell am See, I love those epic days and those really tough courses, and this is one of them. It seems like the perfect marriage.