Thursday, September 18, 2014

Zack Attack Returns To Ironman

9 Days to race and you are suprised with inclusion such as this. For those new to the sports, Jurgen Zack is a name to reckon with in the sports and his target for Ironman Malaysia is "Sub-10". Looked like he may just book himself a spot for Ironman World Championship by bagging the 45-49 age group as winner.
photo from Ironman Asia Pacific Press Release
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia (September 18, 2014) Legendary IRONMAN Jurgen Zack is in pursuit of an age group Kona slot at IRONMAN Malaysia.

It’s been nine years since the legendary German star Jurgen Zack raced as a professional in an IRONMAN. These days Zack has dedicated his life to coaching in Phuket, Thailand and a little racing as an age group athlete. He also has been known to pick up the microphone and sing a song at the local open night in Phuket (but that's another story).

Zack, winner of eight IRONMAN races and three top-fives in Hawaii, signaled his interest in competing as an age grouper when entries opened for IRONMAN Malaysia at Langkawi. “These days I am just the coach, who occasionally gets the itch to compete.”

Zack, who turned 49 years young last month, is sure to have a large target on his back. It is one of the largest and most strongly contested age groups and Zack, like every other age grouper looking for Kona, has done the math and knows what he needs to do.

“Would you believe me if I said my weekly routine is 4km of swimming, 300km biking and 30km running per week? It doesn't get me super fit but I do believe a sub 10 should be fast enough and that's the goal.”
Zack’s last Kona outing was in 2005 when a torn calf muscle resulted in a DNF. Sounds like unfinished business and a new beginning?

“As an age grouper I would try to enjoy the race more than I did as a pro and I am also looking forward to meeting some of my old friends again and have a beer or two.”

Anyone who has heard the term Zack Attack knows that the bike is where the German inflicted most damage in his racing days. It’s a strategy many younger athletes still use to this day, hammering the bike and hanging on for the run.

Has anything changed or does the strategy stay the same at 49?

“Same game plan, a 4hr 10min bike and then walk or jog to get the slot,” he joked. “Seriously, the bike is still my strongest discipline, but I am far away from my old records.”

Zack says he enjoys racing now and again but his new pursuit as a coach means more to him.
“Being at the start line occasionally with the athletes I am coaching means a lot to me. My personal result is not that important anymore. Seeing my athletes doing well is more satisfying, at the moment.”

Whether it is Zack’s influence or not, a record 59 Thai triathletes have registered for IRONMAN Malaysia.
“Triathlon has got a good momentum in Thailand right now and I would say watch out for Jaray Jearanai. He is going to get his ticket to Kona in the 30-34 years.”

Triathlon in Asia is definitely one of the most exciting places right now to be. Expatriates have always represented but times are now changing.

“The real difference in recent years is seeing more Asians getting into the sport. There is some great talent developing in Thailand and Malaysia.”

Does he have any fighting words to the men’s 45-49 age group? "Guys, if you pass me on the run please be nice."

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