Thursday, March 2, 2023



The last blog I wrote was en route to LA excited to put the finishing on my kona preparations. Well, a lot happened since then which has taken me quite some time to come to terms with. I arrived at the Big Island full of confidence. I was healthy, injury free, & couldn't wait for the big showdown. I was confident I'd done the work i needed to do & i didn't feel the urge to be chasing any last minute form. This is generally a good sign for me. We'd waited 3 years for this event & i was chomping at the bit to empty the tank in the lava fields.

Come race day it certainly didn't pan out very well for me. The day couldn't have gotten of a worse start. The feet i thought I'd be able to follow i simply couldn't keep up with & I lost contact with the front swim packs. From that point on I wasn't really apart of the race anymore. I certainly didn't feel like i was in the actual race for the championship atleast. Normally on a bad swim day I'm hanging onto the feet of that group containing the likes of my buddy Lionel, Sebi, Joe Skipper ect. One positive to take away that this year I actually lead & set the pace for that group. Despite lacking the power i thought I'd have, i was definitely swimming better. This was a nice consolation after all the hours spent with Gerry & the Tower26 crew during my LA camp. When we exited the water i was actually surprised we were only 4min behind, I've been further behind in Kona in previous years, othat's for sure! 

The words of Mike Riley will always stick with me, "the only thing you can control is your attitude". With an ever positive mindset, I jumped on the bike believing i could drag myself to the front of the race. Early on in the bike however it was very evident that lack of strength i felt in the swim was following me onto the bike. I had to remind myself of Mike's quote on a very regular basis during that 4hrs 9minutes. I was giving it everything i had & simply not going anywhere. I was hanging on by a thread at the turnaround just to avoid losing time. From experience i knew by halfway you need to be up there. I was now a ticking time bomb to start bleeding time to the guys up front. I've been at the front of kona enough times to know things just move faster at the front. Obviously it's where the best athletes are but there's just a different energy up there. You feel like you can ride like ten men. On this occasion that man was Sam Laidlow. He put on an absolute clinic across the lava fields setting the race alight & absolutely obliterating my Bike Course Record in the process. 

What impressed me most about Sam smashing that record was that i was in the same race & was absolutely powerless to go any faster than i was. Sam well & truly showed he deserved the mantel of the fastest cyclist ever in Kona. Not only that, he was one of the first out of the water & almost won the race overall. Was it not for the phenomenon that is Gustav Iden smashing the run course record en route to a mind boggling course record aswell, Sam normally would've been the champion. To me he's a far more worthy holder of the bike course record as he is an all around top line Kona, Ironman Triathlete. It never sat well with me having the record as I'd taken off Norman Stadler. Norman had long retired when i first lowered the mark in 2017 & that day I'd go on the wog (walk/run) the marathon to 17th place. When Norman had set the record he was also crowned the champion that day. That's how i always dreamed of setting any of the individual segment records in Kona. Sam did come 2nd, however, it was one of the greatest kona performances ever. It's most definitely fitting for the sport that Sam's name is in the record books & at just 23 there's a decent chance he'll take down all the records on the big island during his career. 

For my part i eventually reached T2 to begin my run. I was blown away to see how far behind i was, again something I wasn't accustomed too especially in kona. I was in 5th off the bike & set about holding onto a top 10. I'd realised early in the swim & was very much confirmed to me on the bike, I wasn't on a championship level day. For some data reference, my power on the bike was 280 watts, some 20-30 watts lower than I'd normally record there.I felt so left behind by the race that I was amazed i was even in the top 5 at that point. I Probably should take the opportunity to thank my technical partners for keeping me in the race, with this power output & still being among the quicker cyclists, that's a great testimonial for Pinarello, Princeton, Castelli, & Kask! 

Back to the run & i settled into a defensive rhythm. I'd already learned i didn't have the turbo today & simply wanted to get the best performance out of myself that I could. 1 by 1 i was passed by a bunch of guys until i was in 10th with around 5km to go. I honestly thought one of them had to blow up but surprisingly, which never usually happens in kona amount the top 10, nobody blew up! I believe that the Tokyo Olympics really increased everyone's awareness & knowledge of racing in the heat, it simply doesn't effect people like it used to. This also goes for me. I still managed to run a 2:53 marathon which is my best in kona. While I certainly felt flat, it's by far not a bad run & I'd say testament to the work i did in LA to have this as a baseline performance. I decided if another runner passes me I need to risk complete capitulation & race whoever it was. I had a bad feeling however of who'd it be. The other guy to lose all his records in Kona that day, Patrick Langer. Similar to way id matched my Bike course record time, Patrick would match his run course record time only to see it fall to Gustav. On this occasion however, he did it running into 10th place. When he passed me he obviously passed pretty quickly & I most certainly didn't have the wheels beneath me to mount any challenge. Instead I accepted 11th to finish of a very lacklustre day. 

When i finally crossed the line I'd already had an entire race to contemplate & process what'd happened. The thing that confused me however was why I'd felt so flat & lifeless out there, no spark at all. Another realisation when i crossed the line was that I didn't even feel that fatigued, i barely felt I'd been able to push myself & merely had grinded through a long training day. Our team Carer, Marko, who was in Kona to help out for the week, commented i looked like I could've done the course again & to be honest physically I definitely could've. I wasn't sore at all, no cramps, I wasn't even thirsty, all very uncommon feelings at the end of an Ironman. I simply felt like i couldn't push myself & it really annoyed me not knowing why, mentally i was pretty distraught. 

To rub insult into injury was the realisation that for the first time in Kona i'd performed worse than my previous attempt. Up until then it'd been an upwards trajectory towards th podium, 17th, 9th, 5th, then Covid stoppage, 11th. Also this young French kid had taught me how to really ride a bike & it hurt. Until that moment I'd never felt like being the kona bike course record holder or finishing top 5 was overly important. When both get taken away from you you realise how special it was to be that guy. That really hurt & to be honest has taken me quite a while to asses everything & figure what i want to do going forwards. In the immediate aftermath of the race my first instinct was of course to drop racing on the bike and focus on Ironman's exclusively again. To me my performance in kona was evidence i was becoming average at both. I decided to not be too hasty & take a few days before speaking with the team about the future. I'd simply let the wounds marinate for a few days. None of this however answered the question of why i felt so of. 

For the couple of days leading into the race i had been feeling more and more tired. I wasn't sleeping very well & I was shortening the already shortened sessions i do to freshen up, very uncharacteristic of me. Normally i'm sneaking in a little extra exercise to stay sane & bouncing out of my skin ready to explode on race day. During these days i was waking up with dry cough, stuffy nose & a few body aches. Those symptoms would subside a little as the day went on, & with the help of a little paracetamol, i was able to keep it at annoyance value only. After all, Kona was now days away, I wasn't letting a little sniffle stifle my opportunity to fight for the world title. 

The day after the race these symptoms had strengthened, no surprise there i thought, i'd just done an Ironman & of course I'm a bit run down. I went running with Kristian Blummenfelt in LA a couple of days after the race. Big Blu was running like one should 2 days after an Ironman, an absolute buckled mess. Me on the other hand was bouncing along looking like a graceful runner. Kristian commented that I don't event look like i raced & that I obviously hadn't push myself hard enough. I told him I couldn't agree with him more & that I wish I'd been able to push myself, i simply couldn't. I was so jealous of how much discomfort he was in, that's exactly how i'd dream'd I'd be feeling after emptying myself in the lava fields. Instead I was left feeling like a weak fraud of an athlete for being so soft.

The upcoming weekend I was due to be in Nice for the team gathering to celebrate the season & plan ahead for 2023. It was obviously here that I'd planned to sit down with the team and discuss what we do going forward. Back in July I'd agreed to continue racing with the team in conjunction with my Ironman focus. I'd just qualified for Kona with a close 2nd in Vitoria Gastez & following a win in Copenhagen the year before, i was confident we could have more success balancing both sports going forward. On top of that, I'd had a great season with the team where I really felt i was growing nicely into my position as last man up. Also with Covid restrictions lapsing in the 2023 season, I'd finally be able to do some swimming & running while at bike races. In order to keep my team's staff & riders as safe as possible while at races, nobody was allowed to leave the team bubble. For me, this meant no sneaking off for a quick swim or run from time to time. This lead to me basically being full gas just trying to maintain my swimming & running level, let alone improve it during bike racing periods. There was no doubt my result in Kona had made me rethink what's best for everyone involved, my family, the team, sponsors, & of course myself. 

We where still in 2022 however so to attend the camp in Nice, surprise surprise, we still needed to do a Covid test to enter the "team bubble". Sure enough, for the first time since the Pandemic had started, I tested Positive for Covid. I'd been so diligent over the previous 2+ years, hundred's of tests & never tested positive, never missed a race the team needed me for, then finally when it was my time the dreaded virus had infiltrated my defences. I informed the team medical staff assuming I'd be told I wouldn't be coming to the camp. Instead they asked me if I'd had any symptoms, flu like, aches, restless sleepy, lack of energy ect ect, in the previous days. Finally i realised what had been sapping the life out of me the previous week. I guess if there was ever to be a super spreader event it'd be Kona. 20000 people from all over the world excited to be together in this mythical location for the first time in 3 years, social distancing was quickly forgotten. Add in the fact i was well & truly on the razor, I'd pushed my body to limit in training & also my diet. For certain I had a vulnerable immune system & it'd finally got me.

The team instructed me to wait a day or so & test again. They were very confident I'd picked it up in the week leading into the race so it should pass relatively soon from their experience. Sure enough a couple of days later i was already negative, indicating it'd been incubating in me for a little while. The medical staff were very keen to get me to the camp especially for the medical tests, in particular on the heart. Doing an Ironman with Covid they said would've put a massive strain on my body & in particular my heart. It was important to see if any damage was done before we could contemplate what'd I'd be doing on a sporting sense going forward. Obviously these were some nervous times for me having heard of other athletes who'd had Covid related heart issues. Fortunately however, the extensive tests showed my heart had been unaffected by the virus despite what I'd put it through. I'd dodged a serious bullet there & had a clean bill of health for the 2023 season. 

Learning all of this gave me clarity that the decision we'd made together in July to continue pursuing both sports, was the correct decision. I've no idea what actual impacts Covid had on my performance in Kona, but thing is absolutely certain, it definitely didn't cost me winning the race. Those top 4 guys were clearly a level above the rest. I certainly believe putting up a more valiant fight for that 5th spot was within my capabilities considering what I'd felt in training. Shoulda, would'a, could'a, it obviously inconsequential now. I always say you're judged on what you can do when you're not at your best, the best are generally still the best. I'm far from at the level i aim to get to in that regard. 

Despite testing negative i was far from out of the woods. To the contrary in fact, I was man down for a couple of months after Kona. I certainly wouldn't recommend anyone knowingly do an Ironman with Covid. I felt like i had chronic fatigue. I desperately wanted to race an end of season IM, put the Kona disappointment behind me if you like. Instead, whenever i did a training session I'd wake up with a flu like symptom the next morning. I gave up trying after a couple of weeks of this, I was simply flogging a dead horse.

I'd heard from a number of people who've had long Covid. The message was resounding, you need to kick this thing asap & the only way to do that is with rest. If I'm honest, I hadn't had an off season since 2019. The Covid years rolled into each other with thinking kona would happen, then not happen, the Vuelta finished in November in 21, racing started again in January. I wanted to a marathon at the end of last year, the omicron stopped that, straight to team camp ect, ect. Basically it'd been 3 years without giving my body a rest. Perhaps Covid was my bodies way of saying give me a break! I definitely got the message loud & clear. I'd forgotten how good that fresh recharged feeling is after a good break. The experts all recommend it for a reason, the body needs it!

So here we are today. International season number 22 is already underway. This past week I've raced the tour of UAE & this weekend I'm lining up at the Ironman African Championship. I'm definitely committed to doing both sports! The UAE tour was great. Young Aussie on the team Luke Plapp was 2nd on GC so that gave our team real purpose all week. Luke was my roommate which was an enjoyable experience navigating through the race with him, both on & off the bike. Fallon has had me reading some books on management & delivery of message, basically how you convey things to people in a more effective manner. Telling Luke what to do & not to do is not my job. My goal is to provide him information & empower him to make the right decisions on areas i have some experience. He knew whenever he made mistakes so he didn't need reminding of that. Instead we'd look at the opportunities you can take if you don't make those mistakes. From this perspective the point is made in a much more constructive manner. I've been so fortunate to ride with, & train with, so many great champions over the years. It's extremely gratifying to have the opportunity to pass on that knowledge to these guys & be there to see them succeed at the highest level.

On a personal side i had a great week at the UAE tour. Despite arriving directly from LA & navigating my way through the 12hr time zone difference, literally doesn't get more opposite than that, I felt good & confident i could fulfil the tasks assigned to me. I was able to do a few swims, a few runs, & make the final day the hardest of all with a slightly longer run. Thanks to Luke either leading the race or being 2nd all week long, I spent a lot of time riding on the front of the peleton which is really ideal for my Ironman preparations. I think in previous years I've panic trained in swimming & running which has been detrimental to the fitness i gain from bike races & also my cycling overall. This week I've focused on just maintaining the muscle memory of both swimming & running & try to maximise the physiological benefits from the race. With a couple of days of recovery following the race, the idea is that the fitness will align with the muscle memory, & all going well, i can be competitive in the Ironman on Sunday. Normally this would hardly be my desired swimming & running prep for such a big race but it's gamble I'm willing to take on this occasion. This Ironman was very much an after thought. Ineos have an activation event around the new Grenadier in Cape Town next weekend which they asked me to attend. I realised the Ironman sat conveniently between the end of the UAE tour & the Grenadier event so why not. I absolutely love competing & being able to do it at this level is an absolute privilege and honour. Looking forward to see how i go, & at the very least, getting a race into the body and building from there into the rest of the season.

So that's that. I've been putting off writing this blog as Kona really hurt, it still really hurts, I really don't like how much it has been hurting. Writing this all down however has finally relieved me of my thoughts & I'm now incredibly excited for what lies ahead. I'm excited about this trip to South Africa. Fallon and Wyatt are with me so between events we'll do some sightseeing & try and find some big animals. It's the first trip we've been on in quite a long while without Olive, we didn't feel Africa was a place she needed to visit! 

Once we back in Europe the team have given me a great schedule for the year. Basically a stage race each month allowing me plenty of time to prepare for a few Ironmans over the spring & summer. The plan is to Race Lanzarote in May, Nice in June, & perhaps Switzerland in July. All going well I'll qualify for the World Championships in Nice in September which could potentially be a good course for me! I'd like to do a few other Triathlons in there as well. A PTO event would be great, I've always had clashes thus far so it'd great to do atleast one of those. Perhaps even Embrunman in august which has also always been on my bucket list. For now one event at a time so I'll get through Sunday's Ironman then go from there. It's certainly nice to have a bit of plan however which is something I've missed the past few seasons. 

If you've managed to read through all of this thank you. I greatly appreciate all my followers & everyone who reads this blog. I'll endeavour to get back to doing them more frequently as it's as much a therapy for me, as it is a way for me to share my journey with you.

Have a great day


Sent from my iPad


  1. Hope you fully recover Cam, look forward to watching you in Nice in September.

  2. Really enjoyed this! Thanks for sharing Cam. Glad you’re okay.

  3. Good luck for Sunday and the rest of 2023 Cam, 100% one of my favourite athletes. A huge admirer of your work ethic and abilities on juggling both professional cycling and triathlon and hope you can prove the critics wrong with some huge personal results this year; you deserve it.

  4. Great reading, all the best in πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦

  5. Great post, good luck on the weekend!!

  6. Such great words. Very happy to see you racing Ironmans and being happy doing what you want

  7. Thanks for sharing Cam, your best Ironman is yet to come! All the best!

  8. Best of luck for the race.

  9. Was good seeing you in Kona and talking story a bit. Wish I could have been out there on the run with you. Let me know when you’re coming back to Kona and if you need anything.

  10. Good luck and all the best this season! In awe of your tenacity and grit. Look forward to seeing you in the Classics. πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ fan

  11. Great read as always. I love how open you are about your races.

  12. Absolutely love this article and how honest it is. Huge fan and I cannot wait to follow your exploits for another year.

  13. Great read! Loving his you're balancing cycling and Ironman at the highest level. Hope you have a race you're proud of on Sunday! All the best from a πŸ₯ in Australia.

  14. A really insightful read. Always love hearing about how you manage bike racing and Tri’s, it is bloody impressive! Good luck in South Africa!

  15. I watched you race in Vitoria( very impressive) because I was meant to compete and tested positive for Covid during race week. It was meant to be my first Ironman and I wrestled all week whether to try. In the end I didn’t and it still hurts now. However reading this blog was helpful. Good luck for your season and I hope you get to give your best in the next world champs

  16. Big fan Cam. Thank you always for such incredible insight. Be strong man!