Josh Amberger Reflects on 2020 Geelong Win
by Chris Bagg, images courtesy of Korupt Vision
Ed. Note—we never imagined that we'd only have a few races to talk about in 2020, yet here we are. That doesn't mean that we can't learn from those events, or touch base with the athletes who raced in them. We launch the Black + White Triathlon Collection today, and check in with professional triathlete Josh Amberger. Josh took the win at Geelong 70.3 back in February, not knowing that it might be his only race of the year.
While racing has mostly halted in North America, a few races are scheduled in Australia—do you have any events on the calendar for the rest of 2020?
We're in the grips of winter here Down Under, so there's not any triathlon happening here at all this time of year anyway. But I joke, it's winter but it's hardly winter, you know. Queensland is more like a Floridian climate to those of you in the states. So that said, there is the traditional spring season opener Sunshine Coast 70.3 just around the corner on September 13 in Mooloolaba, a short drive north for me. Just yesterday it was confirmed the event is going ahead under a Government regulated 'COVID safe' plan, so we're looking good at this stage. Although at the minute, our state borders are shut, so the scale of the event might be significantly less than previous years with potentially no interstate visitors if the seal isn't lifted by the event date.
The last time we touched base, I think we all thought we'd be racing by now—how have you managed this long layoff from racing? What have you been up to?
You're definitely right. At this stage, we'd normally be prepping for 70.3 Worlds or doing early Kona prep. And I'd still be away from home in the US or Europe. A lot looks and feels different, but really, I've just been trying my best to keep working on weaknesses, which is something you can't always do preparing for big races. In March/April, there was no routine at all. I took some time off training and was enjoying getting into some outdoor landscaping projects. But once I wore myself out doing that, I was keen to train again. Preparing for long course races year after year is difficult, and often you can't plan too far ahead for your development and you can only think about the next race. So it's been good to tune my body in training in ways I haven't been able to for years. Initially I found a lot of motivation chasing really short Strava segments, and then this transitioned into some time trial racing this last month. It's been good change of pace if I'm being honest.
Geelong was one of the few races/events in 2020—looking back on the race, now, do you feel differently about your win there?
It's pretty much been the biggest event to go down in 2020! Historically Geelong is always the strongest 70.3 field to assemble each year in Australia, so the title always has some weight attached to it, and I'd been second there four times already. So to get the win was a huge buzz for me, and it gave me a sense of comfort over the next months that I'd be able to achieve something for myself and my sponsors as the world shuddered to a halt. I guess I don't feel differently about the win, because you should never let success settle. It's good to feel proud and all, but always move on quickly and remind yourself there's still bigger goals and a bigger stage to perform on. It's hard to know where that is at the moment, but I'm working towards bigger things regardless.
You've been doing some time trialing, taking 8th in the Queensland state time trial championships. Is your approach to racing and training for time trialing any different than your approach to training and racing for triathlon?
The recent state time trial series was a nice little surprise. We're never home in winter to enjoy these sorts of events that normally take place, so it was great to jump in there and try something different. They were all super short, either 20 or 30km, so very different racing to what we're used to in long course triathlon. The level of competition kind of blew me away. I wasn't near the pointy end at all. For instance last weekend, the 2017 Individual Pursuit World Champion on the track, Jordan Kerby, left 60 seconds behind me in the State Champs. He rode me down in less than 10 miles and he went out of sight even quicker! So the racing served its purpose well, as a good kick up the ass! I didn't prepare differently at all, I guess it was more just a show up and throw up kind of attitude. The bigger goal for development remains Ironman racing.
Music has always been important to you—what are you listening to during this strange 2020?
Yeah, heavily. I've been listening to a lot of Summoning, an Austrian Tolkien-inspired metal band. If you're into high fantasy stuff, this is the kind of music you want to be listening too. Epic stuff. There's been lots of good music come out in recent months really, I'm sure as a surge of creativity during lockdowns. I've been digging Violet Cold a lot, a solo project from a talented artist in Azerbaijan. He's a heavy, fast and very unique artist. I used the music a lot in the video I did with Talbot Cox in Kona last year, and most people's comments about the video were that the music was so darn cool. That was kind of the point though, I only wanted to do the video if I got to pick my own music :)