Having led the last two ironman world championship races, Tasmanian triathlete Cameron Wurf has set himself a simple career goal.
“I have to aim to win – it’s the obvious target,” he said.
“I’ve led it twice – 99 per cent of triathletes would dream of leading that race. If I can keep going the way I am I’ve got to be a chance of winning and that’s what I’m aiming for.”
Having spent his adult life competing at the elite level in three different sports, Wurf finally appears to have found his niche and is confident of achieving his latest goal at the ripe old age of 35.
As a rower, the former Hutchins student became an under-23 world champion and 2004 Olympian while as a pro cyclist he rode for eight teams in as many years, contesting three Grand Tours and three classics.
However, Wurf believes his late arrival into triathlon could ultimately give him the edge over more seasoned adversaries.
“The biggest factor in ironman is wearing down the body from all the running and I’ve only been doing that for a couple of years.
“Craig Alexander won the last of his (three) world titles (in 2011) at 39 and I feel I can keep going until my 40s.
“I think I’ve still got a few good years under the hood. I’m 35 and I think I’m still improving. How long I can keep getting better for I don’t know.”
Arriving back in Hobart this week for the first time since January, Wurf reflected on a stunning season which saw him among the pace-setters at the ironman world titles in Kona, Hawaii, for the second year running.
He again set a course record for the 180-kilometre bike leg of the gruelling event only to be run down in the marathon, eventually coming ninth in 8:10:32 – the highest finish by a Tasmanian and third fastest by an Australian.
“The year went better than last year. I got through all my major races, my bad runs were better than the bad ones of last year and I did everything a bit better. It was a natural progression.
“I would have loved to win Kona but I’ve just got to be a better runner and will work on that. It has taken a couple of years to get to this point and the guys I’m racing against are really good and can handle the volume. But I’m getting there.”
Beginning and ending in his home state, Wurf’s year has taken in four continents and endless training hours.
He spent several months at Big Bear Lake in California where he trained alongside Team Sky’s Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas before competing in Europe and South Africa and returning to the US.
Basing himself in Andorra in the Pyrenees mountains on the Franco-Spanish border (because “the swimming pools are always available, the running is great and there’s lots of guys to go riding with”), Wurf’s competition calendar was geared entirely around Kona.
Returning to Australian shores, he won the team event at the Noosa triathlon with former national ironman champion Ky Hurst last week and is preparing to jump back on the bike for Sunday’s Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic.
“It’s always a huge relief when I finally get home,” he said.
“That’s why I keep this place because it’s so easy to come back to and where I can switch off and recharge and see friends and family.
“You adapt to not let travelling be such a big deal but by the end of the year when you think how long you’ve been karting bikes around the world it finally starts to annoy you.”
I don’t ever want to have to stop. It’s a great life. You get to be fit, healthy, travel the world and be around great sportsmen. I just love what I’m doing and want to do it forever.Cameron Wurf
After so much global travel, Wurf is one of many elite Tasmanian athletes who serve as unofficial ambassadors for their home state’s training credentials.
“Tasmania is the best place in the world to train. You go to all these other places but there’s no place like home to toughen you up.
“(Ulverstone’s Sydney Olympic triathlete) Craig Walton said when he left Tassie to move to the Gold Coast he reckoned he softened up and he had to come back to toughen up a bit.
“I think we’re really lucky to come from here and the state is crucial to our success. It provides a great grounding.
“Even the wind is different here. You get in a sea breeze in Tassie and you feel like getting off your bike and calling a taxi.
“Everywhere else is a walk in the park after Tasmania.”
Having already made one major sporting transition in his life, Wurf was initially reluctant to do so again but is now delighted he took the plunge.
“After cycling, I was not going to go back to sport unless I was 100 per cent committed and that’s where I am now.
“You cannot just assume that if you get results in one sport you will get them in another.
“But now I’ve got huge support in terms of coaching and sponsors, you could not dream of a better position as a sportsperson.
“I don’t ever want to have to stop. It’s a great life. You get to be fit, healthy, travel the world and be around great sportsmen. It’s been incredible and I cherish that. I just love what I’m doing and want to do it forever.
“I feel like I’m a really good chance to be an athlete as opposed to being pigeon-holed as just a rower, cyclist or triathlete.”
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