4 Questions with Ben Kanute

American Olympic hopeful Ben Kanute enjoyed a breakout 70.3 performance in Chattanooga last year with his second-place finish. We caught up with him to find out what his focus will be in 2018.

| January 30, 2018 | PERSONALITY

Ben Kanute in the lead on the run at the Ironman 70.3 World Championshp. He would eventually finish second to Javier Gomez.

Ben Kanute in the lead on the run at the Ironman 70.3 World Championshp. He would eventually finish second to Javier Gomez.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

With yesterday's announcement that Ben Kanute is now part of the Bahrain Endurance 13 team, the runner-up from last year's Ironman 70.3 World Championship will now find himself trying to overtake his team mate, Javier Gomez, to move one step up the podium in 2018. The American enjoyed a stellar 2017 season that included that runner-up finish in Chattanooga and a brilliant sprint on the final leg of the Island House Triathlon to earn a big paycheck there, too.

We caught up with Kanute on Sunday at the Triathlon Business International Conference in Tempe, Arizona, the day before it was announced that he would become part of the Bahrain Endurance 13 squad.

TriathlonWorld.com: What does the 2018 schedule look like for you?

Ben Kanute: These next couple of years are going to be interesting because I’ve found one of the distances in which my strengths lie in the half Ironman and non-draft triathlon overall, but with the addition of the mixed relay for Tokyo there will be some focus on that. Hopefully I can help the US win a gold medal in 2020 in Tokyo, so it’ll be a little bit like 2017 with a bit of straddling in between the distances. Racing the different distances really excites me, and it worked for me last year, so I’m going to continue with that.

It is a challenge, but for whatever reason, whether its my unique physiology or because the super sprint and the half Ironman both really excite me, I was able to perform at those two distances really well, and possibly the best of any other racing I did all last year. It’s a testament to my coach, Jim Vance, for creating a training plan that helps me do that as well.

I think it does boil down to the half Ironman distance is new, its exciting. I’ve been able to perform well at all the ones that I’ve done and, on the super sprint side, racing for a team is also really exciting. Having those team mates and racing for them gets me really ready to go before the races, so there’s that love of the distance right there that kind of helps. So there’s this weird spread where I can race really well at a super sprint as well as half Ironman.

What about the sprint and standard-distance WTS races to try and qualify for Tokyo?

There’s that balance too. There’s a focus on the mixed relay on the men’s side because we haven’t had anyone step forward as an individual who is capable of winning a medal in Tokyo just yet. I would love to put myself forward as that, but I have to take it one year at a time. We’ll definitely try to find that middle ground that we missed last year with the Olympic and some of the sprint racing and try and fill in that gap so I perform across the board in all the distances.

Being competitive at a variety of distances is hardly new in our sport.

There are a lot of athletes who specialize in one distance or another, but I think it’s really telling of a great triathlete to be able to perform from those really short distance to the longer ones. I think a full Ironman requires a bit more specificity. But if you look at the great guys who are out there right now, Brownlee or Gomez, a lot of these athletes spread their racing across all these distances and perform well and that’s why people consider them so great. Some of the legends of the sport, no matter what the distance, they are going into they are going to be a threat to win. That’s what I’d like to work towards, too, that complete triathlon resume.

A couple of relay events that will be really important for the US to perform well for qualification, so I will be hitting those and some WTS races, some non-draft and a couple of half Ironman races as well. I love to race.

One would imagine that you'd like to try and move one step up the podium at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship this year.

That’s one of my big goals for the season, to try and win that race. It’ll be fun to try and do that.