Interview - Petr Vabroušek - IRONMAN Czech

An integral personality in Czech triathlon and extreme sports in general is Petr Vabroušek. For the year 2024, he has become an ambassador for the IRONMAN 70.3 Hradec Králové race. How does he perceive the arrival of the famous brand in the Czech Republic? What does it mean for him to be an ambassador, and what are his expectations for the race? You’ll find out in the following interview.

Petr, for the first time in history, an event under the official IRONMAN 70.3 brand is coming to the Czech Republic. Your sports career is closely connected with this brand. How do you perceive its arrival in the Czech Republic?

I see it as great news and recognition of our importance on the world triathlon map. Czechoslovakia was one of the first countries in the world where triathlon started in the 1980s, and in terms of Ironman distance races, we were perhaps the world’s number one powerhouse at the time. Honza Řehula won a medal at the first triathlon at the Sydney Olympics, and over the years, we won many medals at European and World Championships in all triathlon disciplines. Ironman was definitely missing here.

IRONMAN is a big name for every triathlete. Can you describe what makes this brand exceptional?

IRONMAN, in the form of the first race in Hawaii in 1978, is considered the beginning of triathlon as a sport. The records from the early Hawaiian races sparked a worldwide interest in this beautiful triathlon. And Ironman as a brand is still the biggest attraction for most triathletes.

Hradec Králové will become the center of triathlon. Have you seen the location? Do you like the course and the environment where the race will take place?

I haven’t seen the course yet, but from what I’ve heard and studied, it looks like a fast and very attractive course. Especially in the swimming and running sections, even the spectators will have a great time.

The race, although it is a half IRONMAN, is quite demanding. How is training for a race that takes place in a location for the first time?

Is the training different? For a race with calm water and a flat cycling and running profile, no specific preparation is needed. Just systematic, balanced training in all three disciplines.

Do you have any feedback from athletes who are preparing for the Hradec IRONMAN?

The positive feedback has been overwhelming. I know many people who have been talking for years about trying a triathlon. After the announcement of the Ironman brand coming to Hradec Králové, practically everyone has said they are going for it.

Will you be involved in the preparation of some of the athletes who are planning to compete?

The opportunity to race under the Ironman brand in our territory will not be missed by most of my athletes. It is certainly one of the historic milestones in triathlon in our country.

The organizers approached you with an offer to become an ambassador for the race. What does it mean for you?

I am, of course, happy about it. I have participated in more than 150 races under the official Ironman banner on all continents. But this will be the first time at home. I feel that it will raise the popularity of our beautiful sport in the Czech Republic and Slovakia even more. And I want to be a part of it.

A new location and, above all, the originality of the entire IRONMAN series can be a motivation for many athletes who want to try triathlon for the first time. How challenging can the race be for a beginner? What should they be careful about? (The finishing time limit is – fill in according to IM rules).

A lot depends on what a person has done in their life. If you have ever been involved in systematic sports, and it doesn’t have to be swimming, cycling, or running, you can quickly get back in shape in a matter of months and master the basic techniques of the individual sports. If it’s someone who has never done sports, it will be necessary to start the preparation more gradually, so the body can absorb everything, and it may take a longer time. The same applies generally to age and health. A young and healthy non-athlete can prepare for the race in the 8.5-hour limit within a few months with good guidance. It will take longer for older individuals or those with health limitations. Individual progress needs to be made according to one’s own situation.

Another option to get involved in the whole event is the shorter distance 5150 and relays. Can such a race be a suitable alternative for beginners?

I think this is the ideal entry point for someone who feels they won’t be able to prepare for the long race by August. Most people can prepare for 5150 (1.5km swim – 40km cycling – 10km run, editor’s note) in a few months. And if that still seems unmanageable, choose “your” discipline and at least participate in a relay. You will experience everything, and you can progress to the next level in the next edition.

Is the preparation for a 70.3 and 5150 race different for an athlete?

For both options, it is important to master the good technique in the individual sports. First and foremost, I recommend professional supervision for swimming and also for running in the beginning. Cycling is the easiest. It’s all about setting up a good position. Then you are tied by the triangle of handlebars-saddle-pedals, and it’s just a matter of how much and how far you ride.

You have written two books about triathlon, ‘How to Do Triathlon’ and ‘Triathlon – 226 Questions and Answers.’ Would you recommend them to those interested in participating in the Ironman in Hradec?

Definitely yes :-). In the book ‘How to Do Triathlon,’ I’ve put together experiences and advice gained over my 30 years in triathlon. In the second publication, I respond to the most common questions I received on social media based on the first book. If you don’t want to invest in a personal coach, these books can save you a lot of mistakes and trial and error in your preparation. I can send the books with a dedication to those interested.