She’s a consummate professional and one of the nicest individuals you’ll ever meet. She’s also an incredible athlete and a fierce competitor. This week, while many of us are recovering from too much turkey, she’ll be tackling one of the hardest events on the planet. The Ultraman Triathlon. Coeur Sponsored Pro Kate Bevilaqua took a few minutes to chat with us before she begins her assault on the incredible event.
Coeur: Kate..thank you for taking a few minutes to check in with us. You’re competing in the Ultraman World Championships, which covers an astonishing distance of 320 miles! If we’re not mistaken, it’s a 6.2 mile swim, a 261.4 mile bike, and a 52.4 mile run! Our first question has to be…”What drove you to want to compete in a race of this distance?
Kate: Ha! I think there’s a few people asking the same question! But to be honest it was something I had wanted to do for a long time. Last year when I had the opportunity to take part in ULTRA520 Canada it was amazing! The location, the people and Steve put on such a fantastic race. Off course I would want to do it again and Kona was on top of the list! I do love the challenge of endurance racing and getting the most out of my body. I consider myself extremely lucky to do what I do. Don't get me wrong, as I am sure everyone who races or takes part in something that is outside there comfort zone....I can guarantee you right now I am "shit Scared" as they would say!! It is probably worse because I HAVE done one before and now know what I am in for. And this time I also have expectations. But just like any other event I do....it is all about the process and focusing on that! One day at a time, one hour at a time and one minute at a time. So much can happen over three days!
Coeur: Given that the race is spread out over multiple days, how is support handled? Do they have aid stations and volunteers?
Kate: Your support crew for an Ultraman event is extremely important. As I found out last time not only for the physical support they offer you but mentally as well. Lifting you up when you hit those rough patches. And over three days of racing there are many!! It is totally a self-supported race and there are rules your crew and the athlete must follow throughout the event such as some sections are no feed zones due to narrow roads, your support vehicle cannot drive along side you plus many others. I’m fortunate enough to have an awesome support crew including my fiancé Guy (who I know has sacrificed his training and racing to do this for me! ) and close friends Ruth (Physio) and Janine are also here in Hawaii. Guy and Ruth crewed for me when I previously raced Ultra520k Canada so they know what they are in for! Guy will also be responsible for paddling for me during the swim, and once he meets up with the rest of the crew they will drive the course and ‘leap frog’ me to give me all of my drink and food while I ride and run. On the last day I’m also allowed to have a member of my support crew run with me. My goal is to hold this off until after the first 26miles.....but I will see how I go!!
Coeur: Now this is the Ultraman World Championships and you had to qualify for the event. Where did you qualify and what result did you get in your qualifying race?
Kate: Ultraman has a number of races around the world which are qualifying events including Florida and Australia. Unfortunately the even though I participated in Ultra 520 Canada although the same distance is not considered an automatic qualifier. So I put my application in the beginning of May and had to wait until early September to find out if there were any slots still available and if I would be lucky enough to receive one! Thankfully I did....but unfortunately at that time I was quite sick so had to wait another week or so before I could begin my Ultraman training. I have had a good solid few months since then and now just enjoying that Taper!
Coeur: Quite a few of our readers are Ironman athletes and we know you’ve had a very successful Ironman career as a professional. How is the training for Ultraman like Ironman training and how is it different? Other than just being a lot longer of course.
Kate: There’s really no secrets, more volume is obviously the biggest difference but you can only do so much of that! Some days after a 7- 8 hour ride I would feel fine and confident I can go longer. Others days I wanted to get off my bike after 4 hours and question my decision to do Ultraman. But I’ve also done more consecutive big days of training to try and replicate the Ultraman event. It can get difficult trying to maintain too much intensity with the increase in volume so it was about trying to find the balance. I know training for Ultraman I definitely lose my top end speed but have an awesome endurance base! I also find the nutrition aspect different. I eat more real foods during my long rides and runs. Unlike Ironman where it is all over in one day and you wake up the next morning hungry and can eat what you want. Ultraman does not give you that luxury. I need to keep the calories up each day and every night, not letting the body get depleted so I can back up day after day after day.
Coeur: How would you describe your interactions with the other athletes during the race? Do you talk at all or does everyone get so spread out that you feel like you’re alone on the course?
Kate: The camaraderie amongst athletes is really supportive and positive. In 2015 I had a quick chance to meet some of the athletes during the briefing prior to the event. However it wasn't until the last day and the beginning of the run that I had a chance to really get to know some of them! With 52 miles to run there was plenty of time! Once the event was over there was hours of exchanging stories and memories, plus everyone is more relaxed by then! Throughout the event although I have my own personal crew, all team crews work together and have athlete safety as their priority.
Coeur: How would you describe the mental aspect of racing an Ultraman? Do you zone out a bit or are you constantly focused on your physical state?
Kate: Because it is so long....it is easy to zone out! Just like Ironman, Ultraman has a huge mental aspect to it you can absolutely guarantee you will go through multiple ups and downs every day. The important thing is realising they are going to happen and think ahead of time how you are going to deal with them! I like to remind myself of all the hard, tough training sessions that I have done to prepare me, also how lucky I am to be here doing what I love. Focusing only on that moment in time. I also have some special friends who would love to do an Ironman or an Ultraman but for physical reasons can't. I think of them....the bad patches will pass and it will be all worth it in the end. My pretty awesome crew also keep me motivated and on top of my nutrition.
Coeur: We know you’ve got a huge group of fans around the world (including us), so how can people follow you during the race?
Kate: My crew will work really hard at providing live updates through the race via twitter (@katebevilaqua) and Facebook (Kate Bevilaqua) and I’ll also post a short blog each day in the lead up to the race (www.katebevilaqua.com). The event can also be followed on twitter @UMWCHawaii and Facebook Ultraman World Championships.
Coeur: Kate, as we said, we’re big fans and we can’t wait to cheer for you! Have a great race!
Kate: Thank you so much for your support, I really look forward to wearing my Coeur gear and racing with heart and courage!