Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front Page - BY KERRY HALE

In­side the gym where Karsten Mad­sen works out, there’s a num­ber of in­spi­ra­tional quotes on the wall. Be­tween sets he reads them, but one in par­tic­u­lar stuck with Mad­sen, the 25-year- old two-time Canadian cross triathlon cham­pion from Guelph, Ont. “Suc­cess is not owned. It’s leased and the rent is due ev­ery day.” It’s a moniker that is now etched deep into the mind of Mad­sen as he pre­pares him­self to ex­cel against the best off-road triath­letes in the world.

A humble and can­did ath­lete who wears his heart on his sleeve ev­ery time he races, Mad­sen rep­re­sents one of the new breed of hot­shot off-road triath­letes forg­ing a liv­ing from mi­nor spon­sor­ships and trav­els abroad to race a de­mand­ing cir­cuit of global off-road events.

2016 was a stel­lar year for Mad­sen, which saw him claim top spot on the podium at Xterra Mine Over Mat­ter in Mil­ton, Ont., in June, victory at Xterra Vic­to­ria in July and an­other win at the ITU Cross Na­tional Cham­pi­onships in late Au­gust in Pen­tic­ton. Added to these im­pres­sive re­sults he fin­ished sec­ond at both Xterra Ar­gentina in March and Xterra Oak Moun­tain in Pel­ham, Alaska, in May.

At the Xterra World Cham­pi­onships in Maui in late Oc­to­ber, how­ever, Mad­sen recorded a DNF af­ter be­ing slammed into the sand head­first dur­ing some of the tough­est swim con­di­tions the race has ever seen. He man­aged to com­plete the swim de­spite swal­low­ing a lot of sea wa­ter, but, dur­ing the short run into tran­si­tion he be­came nau­seous and dizzy and feared he may have been suf­fer­ing from con­cus­sion. On the bike he started vom­it­ing and could take no calo­ries on board. He dis­mounted his bike and sat by the side of the trail vom­it­ing and shak­ing. He knew this would not be his day.

“When you put your full heart into pre­par­ing and know­ing you did all you could to have a great race it sucks when you can’t show all you worked for. It feels like I held in a sneeze.”

De­spite the dis­ap­point­ing DNF in Maui, Mad­sen ad­mits that “re­gard­less, this year has been a mas­sive suc­cess and break­through for me. I have learned a lot and I am hun­grier than ever.”

Mad­sen used to race tra­di­tional triathlons, and still does from time to time. In fact, in the lead-up to the Rio Olympic Games, he could of­ten be found train­ing with Canadian Olympian An­drew Yorke over the var­ied ter­rain of Mil­ton. In­cluded in their train­ing reg­i­men was the hill known as “Rat­tlesnake,” a short but in­cred­i­bly steep pinch used by some of the area’s premier cy­clists.

“Train­ing with An­drew taught me about pur­pose­ful train­ing ses­sions, about the im­por­tance of hard work day in and day out. Plus it was a great op­por­tu­nity to test my fit­ness against an in­cred­i­bly fit guy.”

Since his first foray into off-road rac­ing in 2009, Mad­sen has be­come ut­terly hooked. “I think the real ap­peal of rac­ing off-road ver­sus road is the bike and run are just more fun. Even on bad race days I have yet to com­pete in a cross triathlon that I didn’t have fun in. To this day, I still feel a deep sense of pride and sat­is­fac­tion from just fin­ish­ing a race be­cause in cross triathlon there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Some­times just get­ting to the line can be a real victory.”

De­spite his pref­er­ence for off-road events in order to work with an elite group Mad­sen opts to train with the group at the Na­tional Triathlon Train­ing Cen­tre in Guelph. Pool swims are typ­i­cally held at the Guelph Univer­sity pool and for open wa­ter hit- outs he heads to Guelph Lake. He of­ten rides a road bike with the team, but once on­board his moun­tain bike he usu­ally rides the sprawl­ing ex­panse of area known as Kelso Con­ser­va­tion Area, which in­cludes the beau­ti­ful Ni­a­gara Es­carp­ment, home of the Glen Eden Ski Re­sort.

“This is a fan­tas­tic trail net­work of­fer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­prove my tech­ni­cal skills and my fit­ness. It boasts great rocky sec­tions, steep as­cents, and smooth down­hill lines. It’s such a great as­set to have in my back­yard.”

Mad­sen per­forms most of his runs on the track and trails in Guelph, not­ing the “ab­so­lutely amaz­ing com­mu­nity of en­durance sports ath­letes, from elite marathon­ers, to triath­letes, trail run­ners and moun­tain bik­ers.”

On his big­gest train­ing days he swims five to six km, then per­forms weights for an hour, fol­lowed by a three-hour road bike or moun­tain bike work­out and a 40-minute brick run off the bike.

“It makes my big­gest days over six hours and, in full train­ing, I av­er­age around 30 hours per week.”

The win­ter off-sea­son has pro­vided Mad­sen a time for self-re­flec­tion. “When I first started rac­ing off-road triathlon I had and still have, a goal of be­com­ing world cham­pion and one of the best in the world at off-road triathlon, not just to call my­self pro. In my own mind I have done the ab­so­lute most I could have done so far in my ca­reer. In 2016, I did all the things I hated or never wanted to do, like dou­ble-swim days and even a few 10-km swim days. I trained the big­gest weeks of my life, and made a lot of sac­ri­fices.”

In 2017, he claims, he will make a few changes to his per­sonal and pro­fes­sional life in order to be fit­ter and smarter than ever be­fore.

Now that he’s gen­uinely tasted the highs and lows of the sport, Mad­sen views that in­spi­ra­tional quote on the gym wall with deeper re­spect and un­der­stand­ing.

“De­spite a great 2016, the set­back at the Worlds in Maui pro­vided huge mo­ti­va­tion for me. It’s a re­minder,” he says, “that the rent is due ev­ery day and to al­ways do good, hon­est work to achieve your dreams.”

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