PORT Macquarie’s Tim Berkel will wear the illustrious No.1 bib in next Sunday’s Urban Hotel Group Ironman Australia 2012. And the 27-year-old admits he is caught in a quandary of sorts.
While he’s appreciative of the recognition, he knows full well on the course it will mean little.
“It’s just a number,” Berkel said, “although it is flattering when you get the opportunity to wear it.
“You get a little bit of added attention when you’re wearing No.1, but all that goes out the window once the gun goes off.”
Of course that attention is amped up even more as Berkel is racing in his adopted hometown. Yet the man who has three full distance Ironman victories on his racing CV views that as an advantage, too.
“When I race in Port Macquarie, I get a lot of crowd support, but I also put a lot of pressure on myself to perform in front of my hometown,” he said. Two of Berkel’s victories came in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.
After winning the Challenge Copenhagen in 2010, Berkel successfully defended his title last year.
That race, in August, he explained, seems to coincide nicely with his body working at its peak.
“Challenge Copenhagen is a good time of year for me as I’m always my fittest around August, after spending the past few Australian winters training in the USA.
“When I’m living in Boulder, Colorado, and doing nothing but training, that’s when my body peaks.” And that’s the methodology Berkel will bring to the Port Macquarie event.
“I have won three Ironman-distance triathlons and each time I have done my pre-race training in Boulder,” he said. “There’s a lot of scientific data that supports training at altitude and then racing at lower levels.
“But for me, if you find something that made you successful, then keep doing it!”
For the past month he has been training at altitude in the States, spending a good deal of time concentrating on his cycling.
“I like having a familiar place – with lots of hill training and being at altitude gives me the added benefit when I race at sea level,” Berkel admits. “Port Macquarie has a fairly tough bike course in comparison to the other Ironman distance events so you have to be ready for the undulating hills and there are the possible headwinds on the straight stretches between the golf course and Lake Cathie.”
A nagging hip problem has been rectified by a new position on the bike but still Berkel will make the most of the professional skills of a Port Macquarie local when he arrives in town on Tuesday.
“I’m looking forward to racing pain-free, but I’ve booked in with Darren at Coastline Chiropractic to resolve any of the residual effects that the last month has put on my body,” he said.