Xtri Sits Down with Chris McDonald
This past weekend, Chris “Big Sexy” McDonald became the first three-time winner of Ironman Louisville. We caught up with Chris yesterday to get his thoughts on the race and why he always seems to find his top stride in Louisville.
First off, congrats Chris!
After a runner-up finish last year, what was different heading into the race this year?
This year I was a little fitter, and little hungrier to go back and get my third win in Louisville. Towards the end of last year I started working with coach Elliot Bassett. His philosophy really fits my style, so I have been really fit all year and have just been a little unfortunate, with two flats in Cour D’ Alene. I don’t want to say they cost me the race, but they kept me from putting out my best race.
This year, I also went back to Boulder for the summer, last year I was in San Diego. I’ve trained in Boulder for 8 summers, and I know I always race well after training in altitude, so I wanted to utilize that again this year.
What is it about Elliot’s style that fits you so well?
He just keeps it simple; I am from the old school style of training. He likes to keep the training simple and consistent. He doesn’t over think things, which I gravitate towards. I like getting up in the morning with a plan, and going about it.
Did you face any adversity in your race this weekend?
Not really, I had a good swim. I was extremely happy with my bike ride. The only thing I was scared about, after having two flats in Cour d’Alene, was flatting again. I hit a lip on a bridge at mile 1 of the bike, and 5 miles later I remembered to check if my spare tire was still on the back of my bike, which it was not…. I did a couple of quick Hail Mary’s and thought, “please, please, pretty please get me through this bike without a flat tire!”
That was about the extent of my adversity on the day. I just felt good on the bike, and coming back in from the bike I saw the clock. I knew then I would have to run around 3 hours and I would have a shot at the course record. Three hours turned out to be a little more challenging than I thought it was going to be just because it was so hot. I was super happy to get the course record, and my third win in Louisville.
What is it about the Louisville course that you enjoy so much?
I think it is a very, very honest course. It doesn’t matter if you are with the lead-group on the bike or not, everyone is putting out the same effort. There are just continuous rolling hills, so this is not a course that athletes benefit from being in a group. Even if you don’t make the front pack, you can still find your way out front if you are a strong cyclist.
On the run, the course isn’t a difficult one, but it is always hot. I seem to do better in extreme conditions. Very hot or very cold, I always seem to race best in one extreme or the other. I enjoy when the conditions aren’t perfect, and when they don’t allow for the guy having the perfect day to thrive. I tend to excel more where a little bit of mental fortitude needs to take place in order to have a decent day.
What does the rest of the season look like for you?
At the start of the year, it was my goal to win an Ironman, so I checked that box. Now the rest of the year is set up around getting the KPR points for Kona next year. My next race is in Tahoe in a month’s time. Then I’m heading back down south to Australia, which I haven’t been home in three years. I’ll make a short trip to New Zealand and compete in the South Island Sports Festival, then Challenge Foster, followed by IMWA. I just think now, if you are not in Kona the year before, you need to find at least half your KPR points the year prior.
Are you still living in Austin, TX?
Home is still Austin, just went to CO to get out of the summer heat. I love the training in Austin. The swimming in at UT is definitely the best masters program that I have ever swam at anywhere around the world. The Austin community is great. The running is phenomenal, and the side of town I live on also makes for great cycling. I live towards the outskirts of town, so it makes it easy to quickly get out on to the roads of the Texas hill country.
Team Big Sexy Racing is about to conclude its first season of racing, how has the team been doing?
The team has been a big success this year, so happy that I pulled the trigger on it. I had been kicking it around for a little while. I couldn’t be happier, had a good reception with people applying for the team, and next year we are looking to expand it from 50 to about 100 people.
At the moment we have eight team members who have qualified for Vegas, with another seven going to Kona. We also have had over 40 age-group podiums throughout the year. The sponsors are very happy with the exposure, I’m happy, and the team members are happy. I’m glad it's going well. Expanding it to 100 will still keep it an elite amateur team, and I still will be hand picking the team. Look for an announcement a little before Christmas about next year’s application.
Chris is also auctioning off his helmet from this weekend's win. The proceeds from the auction of this helmet are to benefit The KIDS Center for Pediatric Therapies of Louisville. Click here to visit the auction.