*below is a transcript of an interview I did before the race. It was never published by Ironman, so I thought I'd share it with my readers here! I'll be posting a podcast soon with my report from my 2nd place result
Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship 2018
Josh Amberger – Pro Athlete Feature
1. How many IRONMAN Africa races have you competed in and/or completed?
Just the one, last year in 2017.
2. Prior to competing in your very first IRONMAN Africa race, what was your impression of the IRONMAN brand?
For me, the IRONMAN brand is all about racing. We all have many different paths that lead to IRONMAN, but as a professional, IRONMAN for me is best associated with fierce and relentless endurance competition amongst the best & fittest athletes in the world.
3. Ahead of race day at the African Regional Championships, what are you looking forward to the most?
First and foremost, I’m looking forward to testing my abilities against many great athletes. I’ve had a fantastic preparation leading into the race, and I’m ready for these athletes to bring out the best in me on race day. Secondly, I’m looking forward to the cultural immersion all the athletes feel out there on the racecourse. It’s obvious that South Africans love their sport, and Port Elizabeth hosts this race exceptionally well. So I can’t wait for the crazy support we all feel on course, and the intoxicating smell of brie!
4. As this is your chosen career, what has been your biggest challenge thus far and how did you overcome it?
I wouldn’t say that it’s an easy road to becoming a professional. One must have a combination of talent and immense drive in some or equal measure to be successful, and I feel like I was gifted with enough of both to have a constant trajectory to or near the top of the sport. I’ve had some definite low points and some years or slack results, but in the end, my passion for the sport and my resolve to be the best I can be has always kept me fighting and excited to pursue this sport as a career. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you love what you do, and you don’t mind the constant suffering in training to attain glory, then it’s not so great a challenge after all, because at the end there’s always happiness.
5. Apart from being a triathlete, do/did you have any other passions that you followed?
I love dark and atmospheric music. Much like the dopamine release I feel from training, I feel that heavy music similarly transports me to another dimension. I spend a lot of my time training to music as well as relaxing to music, and I passionately collect vinyl records. I also obsess over specialty coffee, craft beer and Land Rovers on an endemic level.
6. Do you have any training/race rituals that are part of your routine as a pro triathlete?
Not really. But I would say that now I’m racing Ironman events consistently, I’m finding value in choosing a ‘battle song’ as such to train to, and draw energy from during the race. These songs typically follow a formula of being 10-20 minutes in length and intense in rhythm, melody and lyrical themses, so I can run them over and over in my head throughout the race.
7. Who would you say forms part of your greatest support system?
I have support systems on many levels. My partner Ashleigh Gentle is a short course professional, and we both draw on each other for inspiration and guidance. My parents introduced me to a sporting in my early years, and have shown me values of dedication and pride, and also supported me along my path to becoming a professional. I also have my coach who I see on a daily basis, as well as many loyal sponsors who’ve back me and my goals year after year.
8. Do you see yourself competing in future IRONMAN Africa races? If so, would you encourage others to do the same and why?
I think the course and the vibe here in Port Elizabeth is fantastic, and the timing of this race is always good as an early season event. As long as I have the desire to race Ironman, I’d come back to Nelson Mandela Bay to race, and would encourage any other athletes desiring a memorable race experience to do the same.
9. What is your greatest triathlete philosophy? Please share some of the words that you live by.
I’m not sure I’ve ever had a philosophy on triathlete as such, but my view is that triathlon is extremely malleable. I compete for the thrill of competition. Some may compete for fitness or healthy lifestyle. Some may train as a mechanism of catharsis. Some may do it only once as a bucket list thing. Triathlon can have importance to anyone and everyone who wants to give it a go, so just find your reason and enjoy if while your body allows you to.
10. Please share your best memories or moments as a triathlete competing in an IRONMAN race.
My most treasured moment was winning the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship last year in Cairns, Australia. It was my first major win at the distance, and came off the back of a big personal defeat in this event last year. The feeling of crossing the line in course-record time and putting together a perfect race was just simply incredible.
11. What are the goals that you have set for yourself in 2018?
I want to continue to discover or redefine my limits on the race course. Short goals would be to win races such as the Ironman Africa Championships, and a long season goal would be to podium at the Ironman World Championships in Kona.
12. What is one common sense assumption or stigma that is attached to triathletes that simply untrue?
Everything you have heard is true, we are a crazy species! J