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Interview with Alice Hector – ‘I have unfinished business’
Alice Hector showed she was in fine form this past weekend, winning Israman in Eilat, Israel at the first time of asking. A tough half-iron race, famed for its tough course made tougher by infamous winds that make it more challenging for the athletes, Hector was in dominant form against her competition, finishing 40 minutes ahead of her nearest rival with a time of 5:00:46.
We caught up with Alice for a post-race interview and to find out more about her ‘unfinished business’ with the long distance triathlon game.
That unfinished business refers to Hector returning to triathlon after something of a break from the sport. Looking back to 2008, she was a competitive pro on the long course circuit, coming 6th at Ironman UK and 17th at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. In the same period, she would also claim the World Sprint AG title and Scottish Olympic Distance Championships – a versatile athlete indeed.
However, Alice would then leave the sport for the next few years to focus on ultra-running – a choice that would prove her ability at endurance sports as she remained undefeated across various different races and distances – claiming course records along the way. Then in 2013 she returned to triathlon once again and re-claimed her World AG Sprint title and Scottish Championships, before switching her focus once again to the longer stuff in 2014 – starting with this victory in Israman.
Here’s the interview.
Hi Alice, congratulations on the result in Israel! Can you tell us a bit about how the race panned out for you?
Thanks! It was a great event with some serious climbing involved. I got through the swim and then the real test started. The first 20km on the bike took an hour, and that’s with the initial 6km being flat.
It was slow-going and a bit of a mental challenge as well as a challenge for the quads! After that came relentless rolling hills that sapped the legs further so it was a bit of a relief to hit T2 and begin the fast, but hard, half marathon. I look forward to the run leg the most these days as I have built up a bit of an ultramarathon running resume, and am strong off the bike as a result. Posting a 1.21 gave me the 3rd fastest run of the day which was encouraging.
Did you travel there with expectations of a win? How much did you know about the field you were up against?
Of course I always want to win, but sadly that is out of our control to a large extent! All I needed was a good solid race so as to have no problems gaining further pro starts in 2014.
Most of the pre-race literature was in Hebrew so I had no idea who was taking part until the ‘favourites’ page was issued in English a few days before the race. I investigated the other ‘favourite’ and knew I had a chance, but you never know who is flying under the radar!
Would you recommend the race for Brits for next year?
Absolutely. The race has been running since 1999 and they have the organisation down to a tee. Eilat is beautiful and as a race venue is spot on: all the main race points are contained within a few hundred metres (start, finish, registration, race hotel, press, briefing, presentation).
The weather was perfect; not too hot, but a lovely escape from the British winter for a few days (with tanning potential), and the crystal clear Red Sea was a pleasure to swim in. The mountains are on the doorstep too and provide a real sense of escapism. If nothing else, it could be a perfect long training day alongside a little family holiday!
How did the Israman race come about for you? Was it one you’ve always wanted to do?
I had heard of Israman before, and was searching for a race in Jan or Feb to get the ball rolling nice and early. The race organisers were really accommodating, so that certainly helped seal the deal. They were really helpful throughout our stay.
You’re returning to long distance racing after several years out focusing on the shorter distances, what are your ambitions for this year and beyond?
Basically, after cocking it up in my previous triathlon life by following blindly what others did and getting well and truly bogged down with it all, I want to see where I can get to now I have matured and am happy and healthy. There is unfinished business and whilst I thought I had put the whole triathlon malarky to bed, when the opportunity came up to do a ‘take 2′ properly around 9 months ago, I jumped at the chance.
The aims this year are to not follow the M Dot circuit so much, but to do a couple of Iron distance races, a few half distance races, build up a solid CV of high position finishes, and enjoy it!
2015 will see a push for Kona possibly, but it does not appeal in the slightest unless I get super amazeballs. I see no point of racing above your station and going in with the resigned expectation of finishing outside the top 10 and earning nothing. I have had my best races going in ‘blind’, so don’t really believe you need to experience it before posting a good result. If you’re ready, you’re ready.
Have you got your race calendar sorted out for this year?
It’s a work in progress! But am definitely doing the Vachery Triathlon in July as it’s on my doorstep and its reputation precedes it, and the big aim for 2014 is Metaman. I will prepare like never before for this one. I have raced in Bintan 3 times and have never been beaten.
It is a hugely challenging environment with 90% humidity and temperatures reaching close to 40 degrees. The Olympic distance was tough enough, but I want to do Badwater Ultra one day and if nothing else this will be a real test of how I react under huge ‘environmental strain’!
Do you have any sponsors and supporters you would like to thank and give shout outs for?
Yes please! I have the best team of sponsors, who operate mainly in the paper industry. A massive shout out to Gould publishing, Leipa, Storaenso, Condat, Holmen and also to Tom at O2Creation for the racing and training kit. I would also like to thank Liquid Leisure for Open Water access, Castle Gym Academy in Windsor, and Windsor Leisure Centre, who have all been thoroughly supportive.