Triathlete.com: How excited are you for a chance to race against two of the other top three women from the 2011 Ironman World Championship in an Ironman outside of Kona?
RJ: I’m really excited! I really like the fact that no one’s avoiding the big race thing. And it’s exciting to be part of Melbourne since it’s the first time it’s been run and the fact that they’ve got such a huge field. It’s really stacked. I love racing and so to have all the best people here really appeals to me. I’ve never been one to avoid people in races. I think it makes you raise your game, and I’m always looking to get the best out of myself.
Triathlete.com: Given where you finished in Kona last year, do you need to finish within a certain place in order to get your qualification points?
RJ: I haven’t really studied it too much. Hopefully I’m going to finish high enough that the points aren’t going to be an issue, but I’ve got plenty of other 70.3s coming up later in the season if I need more.
Triathlete.com: What races do you have planned?
RJ: I’m relocating to Boulder in April, and my first race will be Florida 70.3. Then I’m doing Kansas 70.3, New Orleans 5150, Challenge Roth and Timberman – so it’s quite a full schedule!
TM: Where were you prior to coming to Australia? Were you training in the U.K?
RJ: No, no! I think I’ve had about 10 days in the U.K. since Christmas. I had about seven weeks in the Canary Islands. I was in Lanzarote and then Las Playitas in Fuerteventura. I trained a lot with Emma-Kate Lidbury – we’ve trained quite a lot together in the last couple of years. We just get on so well together and have really good fun. She’s my pool buddy, because we practically lived in the pool!
Triathlete.com: Is there anyone in the women’s race here who you think might be a surprise?
RJ: I don’t think a surprise necessarily, because she’s known, but Rebekah Keat. I think we can look to see her have a really strong race. She looks in great shape and I’m in no way underestimating her. There’s also Michelle Vesterby from Denmark. She’s sort of flying under the radar but she had a really strong first Ironman in Arizona. She went 9:11 in her first Ironman, so she’s someone to watch for sure.
Triathlete.com: Are you willing to give your top 3 picks for the men?
RJ: Yep! Obviously Crowie’s gong in as the huge favorite. But I think also Eneko Llanos, he’s showing great form and he just always performs really well. And then number three…I think it’s got to be one of the Lukes. I’ll go for an Aussie – either Luke Bell or Luke McKenzie.