Blake Kappler never dreamed he’d wind up a professional triathlete. He took up racing “for a bit of fitness”. Now, four and a half years later, this West Aussie headed to Kona, Hawaii to compete in the 2016 IRONMAN World Championship.
This annual event is a big deal. Hawaii is where IRONMAN all began in 1977 as a way to challenge the best of the best endurance racers. It’s a tough competition, not just from the calibre of participants from all over the world, but also from the many factors that come into play for a good race. With a warm, humid climate throughout the year, the Kona coast pits athletes against 75km/h “ho’omumuku” crosswinds in scorching 35-degree heat across its high-altitude black lava rock landscape.
This year’s course: a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike ride and a 42km run.
It’s a long road to the World Championship. To qualify for Hawaii, Blake had to place well in other IRONMAN competitions throughout the year. Ranking 4th in the Busselton IRONMAN gave him the points he needed just to gain entry to the world stage.
A typical day of training involves a morning swim session with his coach, Olympic triathlete Peter Robertson. Blake would then pour and lay 100sqm of concrete – about 230 tonnes (4 times his own weight!) – before another hard swim session again in the afternoon. Other days see him riding through hilly terrain on his bike, or running behind Robertson’s scooter, maintaining speeds of 50km/hr with intense concentration.
To prepare his body for the heat and conditions of Kailui-Kona, he’d spend half an hour each day in the sauna, and spend his nights in an altitude tent.
Before triathlon, Blake ran a successful concreting business in Perth, drinking heavily and enjoying his “big boys’ toys”. He was 36kg overweight and ready to make a change. He took up the sport as a way to lose weight, stop drinking and get his life together. It wasn’t long before came to recognise his real friends – the ones who stuck around and supported him after his wakeboard boats and jetskis disappeared.
Blake’s motivation is to set a good example for his kids. He doesn’t see triathlons as a sport, but a lifestyle. In the scene, he’s known for his green mohawk, which he grows to shave and raise money for charity.
Facilitate and MonSTaR Foundation are proud to have sponsored Blake for the Hawaii IRONMAN World Championship. He placed 449 out of 2,215 athletes in this year’s competition.