By Kent Gray/
If you’d told Simon Cochrane at the start of 2023 that he’d be a marked man for the 40th anniversary of triathlon’s Iron distanced-doubled world championship he’d have called you, well, mad.

But that’s exactly where the Hamilton 39-year-old finds himself on the eve of the Ultraman World Championships on the Big Island of Hawaii, giddily contemplating a third and ultimate crack the 515km distance inside seven months.

What’s more, Cochrane is quite comfortable having a target on his back ahead of the three-day test which starts early Friday (6:30am local time/5:30am NZ time) with a 10km swim from Kailua Bay to Keauhou Bay before a 145km ride to the southern tip of the Big Island, complete with vertical climbs totalling 2422 metres, finishing at Kilauea Military Camp in the Volcanoes National Park.

“I’m just excited to really go out there and give it a solid crack,” Cochrane told from Hawaii where he’ll back up on Saturday with a further 276km and 2413 metres of climbing on the bike before a 84.4km double marathon on Sunday.

“It’s the 40th anniversary of the Ultraman World Championships and there is a legendary list of previous champions that I would love to have my name etched alongside. And if all things fall into place, how good would it be to push for a course record on the Big Island of Hawaii?”

The confidence comes with success and an eye watering amount of training.

Cochrane has run the more than 30 marathons in training alone this year and that helped him not only obliterate the Ultraman world best time by 1h 32m when he won Ultraman Australia on debut in Noosa in May, but also capture Ultraman Canada (pictured below) three months later in a course record effort.

“I would definitely say I am a marked man after my success at Ultraman Australia and Canada earlier in the year,” Cochrane continued.

“A year ago, I never thought I’d race two Ultraman events, let alone three of them inside seven months. But I really do think this longer format suits me very well. The races themselves are obviously a big undertaking but it’s the actual training block and the volume you need to absorb which is the hardest part.

“Balancing the right amount to make sure you have the endurance across the three big days but also some intensity so you can still push hard and really race it, is the challenge. You need to be able to get to day three and the 84.4km double marathon with enough in the legs to run well. 

“The goal is the same as Noosa and Penticton [British Columbia]…race hard and stick to my plan across the three days. Fuel well, and race smart. Hawaii will throw up plenty more challenges in the way of conditions and terrain. Being a lot warmer, more humid, hillier and windier will make for a pretty intense challenge.”

Indeed. Still, Cochrane feels ready and acclimatised to a degree having travelled to the VinFast Ironman Women’s World Championship last month in support of a “bunch of  the Athletic Peak athletes that I coach (pictured below).”

“That was a great chance to support them and also get some training on the course and in the warmth,” Cochrane said.

“My training block leading into Hawaii has had a few more specific sessions in regards to getting acclimated to the heat. Quite a few longer indoor bike sessions and almost daily sauna sessions should have me well prepared.

“This build up has gone particularly well and I have managed to layer on some bigger and better training sessions as the year has progressed. I have run over 30 marathons in training in 2023 alone, so am definitely more physically and mentally prepared for the bigger days.”

 Who are you expecting to be the toughest opponents?

“Ultraman events have a much smaller field as it is a fully self-supported race, with open roads and all of the road rules must be followed. I don’t know too many of the people who are lining up in Hawaii, so I will just be going out to execute my best race.”

Cochrane mightn’t be too familiar with his rivals but if Noosa and Penticton are any indication, they’ll soon discover the Waikato father-of-two is the real deal after finding his triathlon niche.

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