Ultra Distance Triathlete of the Year
Penticton’sDavid Matheson might be a certified general accountant for Revenue Canada by day, but the rest of his time is spent training. Matheson ran the final leg of Ultraman Canada, an 84.4 km run, in 7:04:13 to take the 2013 Ultraman Canada title in a new course record time of 21: 47: 47. Last November Matheson finished Ironman Florida in 9:08:56, making him the fastest Canadian age grouper at the race. We caught up with the ultra distance phenom about his race. TMC: Describe your Ultraman Canada victory. Did you go into the race knowing you had a shot at the overall win? David Matheson: The Ultraman Canada ( umc) win was a dream come true for me. It was the best athletic experience of my life, especially being able to share it with close friends and my wife, Tina (my crew). I went into the race with an ultimate goal of winning and knowing I had as good of a shot at winning as any of the other top contenders. My long distance triathlon experience, experienced crew, home-town advantage and ideal preparation gave me a lot of confidence that I would do well overall, but I also respected the fact that there were about five other athletes who were capable of winning. This was one of the more competitive years for umc. As the race weekend progressed, I felt my chance of winning increase and, by the end of day two, I felt pretty confident that I could win. Starting the day three double marathon I was only seven minutes from the lead and, at that point, knowing I had a strong run and how good I was feeling, I was pretty confident about an overall win.
TMC: Were you targeting a new course record? DM: I wasn’t targeting a new course record until the late stages of the run, once I realized it was actually possible. I knew that I needed to run about a 7:07 double marathon to do it, but a decision was not made until 78 km of the run to go for it. With about 6 km to go, I figured it was time to give the record a shot or I would probably regret not trying. I told my run pacer and crew member, Myles Gaulin (an 18-time Ironman finisher), to go for it, so he picked up the pace and I gave everything I had to keep up with him. We ran the last six kilometres of the double marathon all under 4:30 min/ km pace. I was running on pure adrenalin at that point and I just ignored the pain. TMC: Why Ultraman? DM: I first watched the race in 2005 and was quite fascinated by it. I had an old buddy competing in the race that year ( Nick Mallet who had won the race twice before in the past) and he ended up second overall that year. I then crewed for the event on three separate occasions (each athlete requires a swim crew and land crew for the event). Every time I crewed, I was more inspired. Also, after finishing 18 Ironman races, I wanted to try something different and further challenge myself. Ultraman Canada was the logical choice, given my long-time involvement in the event. The third time I crewed was for Kevin Cutjar in 2010. He went on to win that year, set a new course record and ran a 6:37 double marathon. I got to run and pace him for most of the second marathon and after being a part of his success and the excitement of his performance, I knew I had to do the event myself. TMC: How does one prepare for an Ultraman? Were there any drastic changes from the way you prepare for an Ironman race? DM: For me, I didn’t change my training much. It was pretty much the same training I had done for most of my Ironman races. However, I modified it slightly by adding some longer open water swim sets and some additional bike mileage. For the most part, my Ironman training is pretty solid, so there was no need to add too much additional training to an already heavy training load. Aside from my regular training, a couple other important key aspects would be extra attention to diet, rest and recovery. These things are part of my regular training routine, but for Ultraman I was extra vigilant.
I train consistently all year. During the off- season/winter, I’ll train 10 to 15 hours per week, which includes more winter type sports like skiing and snowshoeing. When preparing for a goal race, I’ll typically do a 12- to 14-week program averaging about 20 hours per week, but I’ll throw in a couple of bigger weeks during that time of about 25 hours, averaging about about 10 km of swimming, 600 km of biking and 50 km of running. TMC: Does racing Ironman feel like breeze compared to Ultraman? DM: I did well at Ironman Florida this year. I placed fifth in my age group and qualified for the Ironman World Championship next October with a time of 9:08. Ironman definitely does not feel like a breeze compared to Ultraman. They are both hard, especially when you race them. The thing about Ultraman is that you don’t have to run immediately off the bike so that makes quite a difference. I recover quite well, so stage racing like Ultraman seems to suit me quite well. The pace and effort of Ironman is obviously harder than an Ultraman and running a marathon off a 180 km ride never feels like a breeze. TMC: Will you defend your Ultraman Canada title? DM: I won’t be defending my Ultraman Canada title next year, as I will be focusing my efforts on Hawaii. TMC: What’s next? DM: The Canadian winter and off-season is next, which is something I really love. Although I enjoy the entire triathlon season, I always look forward to the mental break and some good Canadian winter fun. I love to ski, so I spend a lot of time downhill and cross- country skiing all winter.– RH