It’s the sixth running of The Championship, Challenge-Family’s flagship event, and highlighting the field is two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion Gustav Iden (NOR). Iden would have been one of the favourites for the Ironman World Championship St. George two weeks ago, but had to pull out of that race at the last minute due to a chest infection.
He’s returning to racing tomorrow, though, as he takes on a tough field at The Championship race.
“It’s hard to rate yourself when you’re so unsure of your fitness,” he said when asked if he could predict how he’d fare tomorrow. “I had a really short training period going into this race, so it’s really hard to judge where you really are. From the few sessions I’ve had it’s not been great, but it’s hard to say. I’m not as confident as usual.”
Turns out that Iden was quite ill before the race in St. George, dealing with a fever during the week before the race. The Norwegian Olympic team doctor did an ECG before the race, and told Iden that she wouldn’t clear him to compete.
“It was obviously the right decision, but it was still sad to miss out on the big day,” he said.
For triathlon fans there might be an upside, though – Iden hadn’t originally planned to do Kona as it was so close to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship (again in St. George), but “now it looks like I will be at Kona,” he said.
Iden is also looking to compete at a few WTCS races at the end of the year – Bermuda and Abu Dhabi specifically – in order to earn some points to ensure he can compete at the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“I really want to go back to the Olympics,” he said. “I find more motivation in the short course. I do enjoy long course and middle distance (racing), but there’s something special about short course and it’s closer to my heart. I just enjoy it more. There might be more sponsors and publicity around Ironman stuff, but it is my life, and I don’t want to do something else just to please others. I think I will go with my heart and do more short course.”
For Iden the drive to compete in Paris isn’t totally around trying to win a medal.
“I enjoy the racing and training,” he said. “It’s more me. I know I have talent in the mid- and long-distance. Even though I haven’t won anything big in the short course, it’s still more motivating.”
Iden, along with his countryman Kristian Blummenfelt, appear to have figured out how to excel at all distances, but Iden says they still have to see how they will fare moving back to short-course racing after having competed over some longer distances.
“Combining half- and short-distances is definitely possible, but to do the full and the short course … we’ll see,” he said.