Garland's Jonathan Morris on his journey from first triathlon to the World Championships.

Dec 03, 2018

Jonathan Morris first became interested in triathlons while living in Albany, on the South-Western Coast of Australia in 2012. He described Albany as a town “made for cycling and swimming”. He joined the local triathlon club and set himself the target of completing the Olympic distance triathlon held there every year. Having come from a hurling background, and with some 10km running races under his belt, the run didn’t worry him too much. The swim however, was a different story. “Swimming 1.5km in the ocean worried me a lot” he says, “I spent 3 months just trying to get my breathing right in the pool”. While he explains that swimming gains were always hard won, he eventually built up to doing some group swim lessons in the pool and then in the open water. Completing his first Olympic distance triathlon with a borrowed wetsuit and time trial bike he caught the bug. That day, he won a spot prize of entry into the following year’s local half Ironman distance race, and committed to another year of training.

Six years later, having moved home to Ireland, he’s raced pretty consistently ever since. “I like to think I’ve learned a lot over that period, usually learning the hard way” he explains. Last year he had his first major injury rupturing his quad muscle in a sprint. “You look back and think what was I doing sprinting for 18th place but at the time it felt very important”. Following the injury he decided to begin 2018 with four months of physio and strength and conditioning. He took a coach on board, “someone who could see the bigger picture and hold me back when necessary”.

While he had a number of aims heading into 2018, one that stuck out was the Ironman 70.3 worlds. “The notion of qualifying simmered in the back of my mind and I thought if the race comes back to Europe I’d give it a good go to qualify” he explains. When Dun Laoghaire 70.3 was announced with a new bike route leading up through the Sally gap, he knew it was a course that would suit his strengths much more than the previous flat course of the Dublin 70.3.

2018 started off in earnest at the Carlow sprint triathlon. He was happy with the performance on the day given he had recently come through a serious injury. “I wasn’t sure if I could get my running back to the kind of times I had ran previously but with structured coaching and an emphasis on strength and conditioning leading into the season it looked like I was set to improve on my run”. Next up was the Mixed team Relay at Lough Cutra in Galway. According to Jonny this was probably more nervous than he had ever been before any race. The Team had won the National Title the previous year and he didn’t want to let them down. “The relief when I crossed the line was huge. Belpark had retained the title for another year and we had earned the right to compete at the European club championships in Lisbon”. In mid-July Jonny took the opportunity to train at altitude in St Moritz in Switzerland for 10 days. The volume of training was high and required a week of recovering afterwards.

“August is where my season really came together” he says. “I took out the overall win at the Caroline Kearney standard distance triathlon”. This was his first win of a national series race but it was a little bittersweet as the swim was cancelled so it was reduced to a duathlon. “A week later my A race for the year arrived”, “the conditions on the day suited me, the swim conditions were relatively rough and times were slow”/ Having swam around 15km a week consistently his endurance was in a good place “even if my technique still left a lot to be desired”. Coming out of the water 150 places higher than 2 years previous meant a lot less people to pass out on the bike. The conditions up at the Sally gap were foggy, wet and windy and knowing the course well was a big advantage. He had planned to cycle hard up the hills and recover on the descents while keeping steady power on any of the flat sections. This worked well, with energy only fading slightly in the last 10km or so. The conditions on the day meant lots of people had crashed out on the bike course; “I was reserved when descending especially in the 2nd half of the bike as I could feel I was having a good day and didn’t want to take any chances” Jonny explains. He ended up winning his age group by just over 8 minutes and was the 6th amateur across the line. It was a result he hadn’t expected and unsurprisingly the result “really made all the work over the year worth it”. “I was delighted to accept my place at the World Championships in 2019 in Nice, France”.


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