Post Kona Interview

Thanks to Rich from Beyond Going Long for the interview below:

I’ve followed Nick Baldwin a couple of times this season – the talented age-grouper kicked off his season by winning his age-group in Abu-Dhabi and his season has just gone from strength to strength. Crowned the Ironman 70.3 World Champion for 18-24, Nick followed this up in Kona by claiming silver for the second year running and finishing in a very impressive 40th overall.

I caught up with Nick to reflect on his amazing season and what come next for one of the hottest age group talents in the World.

Nick Baldwin was born and (mostly) raised in the South of England, but he represents the Seychelles on the international arena due to his mothers heritage and an affinity to the location having spent time there growing up. Triathlon nearly lost him to academia and the world of finance after he graduated from Cardiff University in 2010 with a degree in Business Economics and French. After graduating, Nick started to apply for graduate schemes in finance, which allowed a time of self-reflection before deciding the corporate world wasn’t for him. Triathlon was his passion and he hasn’t looked back since.

As an age-grouper in the 18-24 category – Nick has done it all. AG wins came at Ironman Austria, Ironman South Africa and Ironman Western Australia (along with some UK podiums and wins, such as New Forest Middle). In 2012, he started training full-time and was rewarded by AG wins at places such as Abu-Dhabi and then a World Championship title at Ironman 70.3 Las Vegas.

In Kona, Nick matched his 2011 result by picking up silver in his 18-24 category but what marked out his progress was the stunning 40th position he held overall. I caught up with him to reflect on this season and what the future might hold for this talent.

Hi Nick, you’ve just taken 2nd at the Ironman World Championships 2012 – how does that feel today and how did the race pan out for you?

It wasn’t the win I dreamed of, but I’m very pleased to have come away with another 2nd place finish in Kona.

The swim went to plan, coming out 11th in my age-group in 59 minutes. As soon as we hit Kawaihae on the way home I knew it would be a slow day, but I was riding well and was in 2nd place. Everything was going to plan until mile 94 where I received a 4 minute drafting penalty – my first in 32 triathlon races – for not completing a pass in the allotted time. This was a huge blow to my hopes of challenging for the age-group win, but I remained positive and concentrated on the run ahead.

I paced the run well until mile 19 where I had to walk the remaining aid stations. My 3:09 run split was a 9 minute PB for a finish time of 9:13.

I think even more impressive was your overall finish of 40th. Did you think you would finish that high up? What were your special moments from Kona 2012?

The overall finish position is what I’m most pleased with. Last year I finished 108th overall, so to come 40th is a big step up.

There wasn’t a particular finish place I was aiming for – it was more a case of executing the race plan and letting the result take care of itself. The final few hundred metres along Ali’i Drive with crowds lining the streets cheering you on is always special. Crossing the line as one of the top finishers with the Seychelles flag was a very proud moment.

Surely with such a competitive year its soon time to turn pro? Your age group success has been amazing this year!

Thank you. I’ve had another consistent season, finishing on the podium in all 8 of my races. I didn’t want to rush the process of turning pro and the experience I’ve gained as an age-grouper in the last few years will put me in good stead for future races.

Having achieved the results I have this year, I’ll definitely take my pro licence at some stage during the 2013 season. I’m eager to take on the challenge of carving out a career in the sport.

Kona aside, what stands out as your highlights this year?

 Winning the Ironman 70.3 age-group World Championship title was a huge moment. As an athlete you dream of winning races and titles, so to come away with the age-group win at such a big race was the highlight of the year. Having the opportunity to train in the US this summer was another fantastic experience.

I got to know some amazing people and left with great memories.

Tell us a bit about your preparation – as you have a top training camp and schedule – for instance I see you have spent some time in tri-mecca, Boulder…

When the opportunity arose to spend the summer in Boulder I didn’t hesitate to take it. The training there is fantastic with great running trails and stunning cycling routes. Of course, training at 5000+ feet also has altitude benefits, which I’m sure helped me in Las Vegas. Although there are plenty of triathletes there, I did the majority of my training alone.

Looking ahead, I’d certainly like to do more training with others to help get the most out of myself.

What have you learnt about yourself, your spirit and your capabilities within the sport from 2012?

I’m an extremely motivated and committed athlete. I can’t put my finger on what my biggest driving force to succeed is, but I know it’s there.

More than anything this season has given me the confidence and self-belief that one day I can and will be one of the best triathletes in the world.

I’ve said it to myself before, but now I truly believe it. Hopefully others are starting to believe it too. It’s going to be an incredible journey and so far I’m loving every minute of it!

What might your targets and ambitions be for 2013?

I’ll spend some time in Tucson, AZ, with my coach over the next few weeks and we’ll discuss plans for next season.

As a first year professional, choosing races wisely is important as I’ll need to start earning an income through racing. I’ll likely race regularly over the half distance and may try to chase points to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas.

I’m sure there will be an Ironman distance race thrown in somewhere, too. Returning to Hawaii is a focus of mine, but I won’t go there with the aim of being a mid-pack pro.

When I’m ready to return, it will be with the ability to get on stage as a top-10 finisher.

I’d like to thank my fantastic sponsors who have contributed hugely to my success – UK based Click Fragrance, Seychelles based Eden Island Marina, Hunt Deltel and Vijay, and of course Compressport, ZEROD, Drag2Zero, ENVE and Extreme Endurance.

Thanks Nick and congratulations on a fantastic season – can’t wait to see you racing pro!