Saturday, August 21, 2010

Q&A With American Olympic Hopeful Matt Chrabot

Inside Triathlon’s Courtney Baird caught up with American Olympic hopeful Matt Chrabot as he prepares for the ITU World Championship Series Grand Final in Budapest. Chrabot finished fourth at the most recent World Championship Series event, in Kitzbühel, Austria. It was the best ITU finish by an American this year.

Written by: Courtney Baird You’ve had a breakthrough season this year with a 9th place finish in Sydney and a fourth place finish in Kitzbühel. To what do you attribute to this recent breakthrough?

Chrabot has broken through in the ITU World Championship series in 2010. Photo: Janos Schmidt/

Chrabot: I guess you could say I got my act together. I stopped screwing around in between workouts and hard days. I also took myself less seriously. Sounds a bit more complicated than it really is. I read that you’re living outside Paris while you prepare for Budapest. Is that true? If so, what’s the training like in France?

Chrabot: Yes, I’m living in Poissy. The training is good…except when you show up for a track workout and come to find that the gates are locked (which happened 10 minutes ago). Can’t stress over it though. There are some great running trails less than a mile away, so I’ll just do it in the woods and measure the distances with my GPS watch.

Chrabot has broken through in the ITU World Championship series in 2010. Photo: Janos Schmidt/ The Olympics are only two years away. How is your preparation going to change as we get closer and closer to the Games? And what would it mean to you if you qualified?

Chrabot: Well, basically, the course is currently set up to be a pure runner’s race. It’s pretty much a symbol of what the ITU racing has become in the past several years: a flat, boring bike then a runner’s race. Running is my main focus and has been for the past few years, whether my results have shown it or not.

Qualifying for the Olympics is huge! Racing in the Olympics is the very pinnacle of the sport—any sport for that matter. But simply padding my résumé is not why I want to compete. I’m all about racing at the highest level. What’s your day-to-day life like as you live and train as an Olympic hopeful in Colorado Springs?
Chrabot was edged out by defending champion Matt Reed at the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon. Photo: Paul Phillips

Chrabot was edged out by defending champion Matt Reed at the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon. Photo: Paul Phillips

Chrabot: It’s fairly uneventful. Days and weeks blend together as one giant blur. It’s broken up by races and trips around the world. Living at the training center definitely has its advantages, though. Mixing it up with other athletes from different sports from around the world is a great way to share ideas on life and training as an elite athlete. You’ve mentioned on your blog that ITU’s courses are too “easy.” Why is this? And what’s the perfect course for you and why?

Chrabot: From what I hear, these races are expensive and complicated to put together. The ITU and its organizers get so caught up in this that they tend to take the easy way out and just come up with a simple and convenient course in the end. The feedback on my blog I received from some of the athletes and ITU was very positive. They’re looking to include more difficult courses sometime in the future…it makes racing more exciting!

The perfect course for me would include an ocean swim with giant surf, hilly bike with steeper climbs that are over a mile long, some technical descents, and a rolling hill run course. I have no idea where to find a place like that. Maybe the Rio 2016 course?! The pronunciation of your last name is a little confusing for some. How exactly do you pronounce it?

Chrabot: It’s “Matt Shär-bòt.”

Chrabot was edged out by defending champion Matt Reed at the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon. Photo: Paul Phillips

Friday, August 13, 2010

You Get What You Pay For (that’s a freakin’ metaphor. I know these things are expensive)

Yesterday in the race briefing the ITU reamed us out for acting like goofballs on the bike in London and not creating enough buzz with the media.

First of all, I think the ITU has come a long way, and is doing an excellent job. I’m glad to see the athletes are really starting to engage themselves with the age group athletes, etc. Now that I got that out of the way, here’s what I’m really going to write about.

You want real trash talk, just put a microphone in the middle of the bike pack…you’ll have to bleep out half the words for TV though…

The ITU and media want exciting races. Big City, Big Crowds. BC. All the WCS races seem like they’re modeling after the final day of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées. The first half of the race is all smiles and waves, the last 20Km is all out racing. There’s the beautiful scenery of Paris, but it’s designed for the sprinters. Only a handful of guys have a legit shot at the win. Breakaways rarely succeed that day.

With the courses we’re racing on, it reminds of exactly that. Accept we get yelled at for waving at the camera and crowds. Big City, Big Crowds? It ends up being Boring, Crappy racing. You don’t need incredible background scenery to come up with an epic race. It’s the same thing every time. The same guys in the top 10. If the viewers want to watch something with beautiful background scenery, don’t you think they’d watch the Discovery Channel instead?

Sure, let’s have the races like Hamburg and London, but how about a killer race course like the Escape from Alcatraz? Only the strongest, most well round triathletes will shine. Maybe the same guys who place in the Top 10 will still all be in the top 10. We can only speculate for now.

As of right now the athletes representing the rest of us are also some of the most successful guys in the sport. Not only that, but you guys work your ass off, and I fully commend you on that. Thanks for all your hard work and what you do. They’re badasses, but the guys are sort of like the sprinters racing on the Champs-Élysées. Now, if we race on one or two impossibly hard courses a year, you might have to take a pay cut if you can’t hang and not get your usual top 10 finish, or just skip that one in the series. And no, I don’t feel like running for a committee anytime soon.

Tomorrow we’re racing in the beautiful town of Kitzbuehel…in a valley surrounded by alps and epic climbs. There won’t be any of that in our race though. You’ll see it in the background, but we won’t be there. I’m not suggesting we race on more dangerous courses, but if the racing is going to be more exciting, we’re going to have to race challenging courses.

Ok, tomorrow will be tough, especially if it rains like last year. Cold, wet, windy, rainy….miserable. (Man, that was hard! I didn’t even make the main pack! )What the television viewers really want to see are ocean swims with giant surf, long steep climbs, technical bike courses (quit it with the 180 degree turns already), and hilly runs. Challenging courses that will rip the race to shreds because they’re hard, not because it’s dangerous and guys are crashing.

Oh, not all the athletes will like a hard race? Then stay home you sissy.

Now, back to preparing for tomorrow's race...