David McNamee on tackling Ironman

Along with Joe Skipper, David McNamee was the break-out Brit Ironman male of the 2015 season. McNamee came through the British Triathlon set-up before leaving for the long-course world in late 2014. The next year saw him take the Ironman UK title and finish 11th at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, the best male Brit of the day and with the fastest marathon time, too.


The race led to the Scot joining the BMC Etixx Pro Tri Team for 2016, working alongside Will Clarke, Liz Blatchford and a host of non-drafting pros aiming for long-course dominance. We caught up with the 27-year-old to talk through his career…


I started triathlon at the New Year’s Day triathlon in Edinburgh, it was freezing and I was horrific. [Scot pro] Fraser Cartmell won it and that was cool to see; six months later I was training with him in Stirling. British Triathlon became involved after I was fourth at Blenheim; a few weeks later I was racing the ITU World Series at Kitzbuhel and didn’t have a clue who anyone was. But I came sixteenth and that got me into the U23 Worlds that year and I ended up doing six ITU World Champs.


There are things I’d change but I feel positive about it all, it set me up for my career. To be honest, I don’t think I could’ve won at Olympic medal. I saw the frustration that Will Clarke and Tim Don went through in 2012 and I didn’t want that for 2016, so it felt like the right time to move on. As soon as the Selection Policy was announced, I worked out quickly that I wasn’t going to Rio and there was nothing I could do about it. It’s [the ITU] a claustrophobic scene and it’s hard when you feel like an outsider; they [British Triathlon] want you to do well in the series races but, once the big show comes around, then they’ve no intention of taking you. That’s not what I’m in the sport for, I want to go to the big stages and perform. Ironman and 70.3 allows me to do that. 


I knew about Ironman Hawaii before I know about triathlon. I remember being young and watching Trans World Sport at silly o’clock and Kona would be on. I thought they were a bunch of crazy lunatics but it’s amazing how something just sticks with you. I remember Simon Lessing racing it, Thomas Hellriegel too. I think physiologically I’m better at the long-distance stuff, I’m an athlete who likes to suffer more and fundamentally I’ve always lacked a little speed. And you need that even in a two-hour Olympic-distance race. 


They’ll sort your sponsors out for you, bring a mechanic and a masseuse, and all of the stuff you don’t think about. You can’t put a price on that. For a pro, to rush around looking for a local bike shop before a race, and then trusting someone who won’t be familiar with your bike, isn’t what you need come race week. It’s like the cycling world, with huge support staff but that hasn’t been embraced in triathlon until now.

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Short-course fuelling is very simple and you don’t need a huge amount; you can keep it simple with a gel or two on the bike and a bit of isotonic drink. For 70.3 and Ironman races, by hour three you’ve run out of the energy sources you started with so you need to top things up on the bike. Figuring out how to eat on the bike is critical, and people will recommend countless ways like energy bars, dried fruit, sweets, but I prefer gels. I’ve got a sweet tooth so i put about 16 gels into my bottle for a race and suck that. And it’s key to monitor the sodium intake at hot races especially. [New BMC co-sponsor] Etixx are a premium brand. The prices may be a little higher but that’s what performance costs and it works.

For more on BMC Etixx head to www.uplacebmctriathlon.com and for more info on Etixx Sports Nutrition visit www.etixxsports.com


Image: BrakeThrough Media

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