Home > Personalities

Is Nice going to be a fitting world championship? You bet. Just ask Mark Allen

Triathlon legend explains why Sunday's race will be both historic and exciting

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

No athlete has enjoyed more success doing triathlons here in Nice than Mark Allen. While the six-time Kona champ is best known for those Ironman titles, he won the prestigious Nice International Triathlon event 10 years in a row.

We caught up with Allen this week to ask him about Nice and his thoughts about Ironman moving the world championship here. You can listen to his chat with Triathlon Magazine editor Kevin Mackinnon on The Life of Tri podcast by clicking on the links below:

Listen to the podcast on iTunes or Spotify.

He might be biased, but Allen’s excitement about the race this weekend is pretty contagious. He lays out a great case both for an exciting day of racing and also a fitting world championship.

“The first time I came here for a triathlon was in 1982,” Allen says. “Thinking about the amount of history that has taken place here in the sport and the stars who have competed and won. It’s gone from this event that was put in place to sort of give Ironman a run for their money in 1982 to becoming an Ironman event itself to be part of the Ironman World Championship, it is crazy the progression of it.”

It’s not Kona. It’s the first Ironman World Championship in Nice. It’s time to get excited

“Once you race here and compete here, especially in one of those important events like this world championship is going to be, you realize why it is so worthy of the stature that it holds in the sport,” Allen continues. “This iconic location. You’ve got the power blue Mediterranean, then you have this definitely world class bike course with lots of climbing, lots of descending and lots of tactics that are going to take place and lots of opportunity for people to make up time, lots of opportunity for people to set themselves up for a complete explosion on the run. Then you have the marathon on the Promenades des Anglais. Name any big avenue on any big city in the world and that’s what this is, with its own unique character. It’s the Fifth Avenue of Nice, it’s the Champs-Élysées of Nice, it’s the Alii Drive of triathlon in France. There are four loops, so the entire way the athletes are going to have thousands and thousands of people cheering.”

Allen is also fascinated by the potential race dynamics. While we’re used to a certain style of racing in Kona, the challenging course in Nice  with 2,400 m of climbing on the bike, changes things dramatically.

“How is it going to be won?” Allen asks. “I don’t know. I think the person that wins is not only going to be the one who has the skills, the fitness, the mind, but the one who can respond the right way on the day.”

Having run his way to the win here in Nice a few times during his storied career, Allen is quite aware of how a fast run on this course can make all the difference.

“Maybe we’ll see Patrick Lange break 2:30,” he says. “If he does that, how much of a lead can he give people and still make it up.”

We cover a lot more about the race in our conversation – check it out on The Life of Tri.

“If you can dream it, you can make it happen.” Meet Bangladesh’s first Ironman World Championship finisher