Kiwi Julia Grant started racing as a professional triathlete in 2010. Since then she has accumulated many top 10 finishes including a 2nd at Honu 70.3, and 10th in the Wildflower Long Course last year.
Eileen Swanson of Freeplay magazine sat down with Grant to talk training, racing and her upcoming race at Wildflower.
You’ve been racing pro for the past 4 years and travelling the world. Tell us what motivates you from race to race and how is the pro lifestyle travelling the world?
Its a pretty good lifestyle and I’m lucky to be able to travel and race around the world. Living, training and racing in different countries is great but isn’t all fun and games. I feel like I haven’t unpacked my suitcase in months. Living pretty much at the bottom of the earth means a lot of travelling, We cant just pop to the US or Europe for a race. It means packing up and moving to the Northern Hemisphere summer. The plus side is I get to meet people from all over the world and live in some pretty cool spots. The hunger to succeed motivates me from race to race. I think always wanting to do better or improve on something helps. Having a goal at the end is key.
What are you favorite races and why?
Wildflower for sure would be one of my favorite races, it was my first ever pro race. The atmosphere and the people that organize the race are one to none. One day I will have to win it.
You had a breakthrough race at Honu 70.3 last year in brutal conditions, what do you attribute to having an amazing race in super tough conditions?
Leading into this race I was living in Kona and fell in love with the place. Its such a special place to live and train. Its the closest place to home in the world I’ve found. Such a relaxed lifestyle and the environment make it the perfect place to train. I knew the conditions and had a good lead up to this race.
You are from Christchurch New Zealand but live in the US. Why? More races here, better trianing, etc??
I live in Christchurch over the summer. It works perfectly, I don’t like being cold so get to live the double summer. In around May I head away to start my season. There are far more races in the USA and Europe plus its winter at home so the tri season is over.
Have you had a coach the last 4 years?
Yeah I have had a coach. I have recently started with a new coach Stephen Sheldrake, who is also a kiwi. Things have changed in my programme this year so looking forward to racing my first season under him.
You lived in Kona for a while, how long and what made you move there to train?
I first went to Kona as a training hack for Jo Lawn a few years ago. I loved the training there so when I found out there was a half there in June I was keen. I meet an amazing couple who are kind enough to let me stay with them, So I’m lucky to get the opportunity to live and train there for a bit. I will be doing the same this year. Straight after wildflower. I will go to Hawaii for just over a month to train and race Honu 70.3.
I remember staying with you at Wildflower in 2010 and you were a first year pro and thought the course was flat, haha! You sure did impress everyone on your top 8 finish, especially since you were not prepared for those tough hills! Do you normally train hills?
Yeah I had no idea about much coming into this race. It was my first pro race and was clueless. Which was probably a good thing! I soon learnt whilst on the bike course its not a flat course by any means and the run course also is not flat! I do like hills and train a lot in them in New Zealand.
Do you think it was better to go into a race like Wildflower without any expectations and not knowing the course? Or do you like to scope out the course before each race? What has that taught you?
I admit I do tend to look at course maps now so there are no big surprises on race day.
Have sponsors been very supportive or hard to find as a new pro?
Its a little hard in NZ to get sponsors as its such a small country. I have been lucky with the ones I have managed to get. The sponsors I do have at the moment are all great and really supportive.
How many Ironmans have you done and will you pursue this distance or the 70.3 distance? Which suits you better?
I’ve done one full distance race in 2012 and surprisingly didn’t hate it. I am looking at doing more in the future as it may be what I’m suited to. For now I am going to stick to the half distance but who knows.
If you can give a newbie some advice on how to get started in the sport of triathlon, what would a few pieces of advice be?
Its really not that easy at the start. Financially its tough starting out but if you keep pushing on and making things happen it pays off.
You are one of the most humble and fun loving pros on the circuit, thank you so much for letting me interview you.