It's been five years since he took the title, but Pete Jacobs is back racing here in Kona and is in a great head space as he takes on the challenge of the Ironman World Championship.
October 14, 2017 | PERSONALITY|
One of the feel good stories of Kona 2017 is the return of 2012 champion Pete Jacobs. Known to us as the Albino Tiger, more for his mercurial athletic feats rather than his resemblance of that animal, Jacobs presents the most wonderful of triathlon conundrums this week.
The five years since his victory has seen Jacobs battle debilitating fatigue issues. Only those who have had to battle constant or chronic fatigue know just how debilitating it can be. To hear Jacobs describe months of having little, or no, energy is to become aware of part of his struggle over this period. This is legit, Jacobs is no dog an pony show and even though he may present as slightly eccentric his battles with his body have been significant.
Listening to Jacobs speak in the lead up to Kona is to become aware that he is a glass half full kind of guy. He says he wouldn’t change the last five years for anything. It triggered a chain of self enquiry that lead him to investigate most aspects of his life. Significant changes to diet and training have him fit and healthy for the first time in a very long time. There is a confidence (or perhaps joy) in his voice that has been missing for a while. And this guy is good for the race and good for the sport. A true enigma that, on his day, makes a marathon seem a float and the Ironman finish line a place to share the love.
This season, new found confidence is sprinkled with a dose of caution. Jacobs hasn’t raced for almost one year. He hasn’t raced successfully for almost five years. By his own admission he doesn’t really know what to expect.
Could Jacobs figure at the pointy end of Kona 2017? A smart punter wouldn’t bet on him, but a smart punter wouldn’t bet that he couldn’t either.
I like the fact that Jacobs is focused on his own race this year. He has openly said if the bike is too quick he will let them go. He seems to be structuring his race around finishing with a solid run. I love this game plan.
If Jacobs runs anywhere near his best he could make 15 to 20 mins up on a lot of his competitors over the marathon. Realistically, he could be a long way off the leaders as the run commences however.
The fact Jacobs is back and healthy is a big win for him and the sport. If he can have a solid run then a top-10 finish is possible, which would be a huge result for him. It would also no doubt affirm the direction he has taken in regards to diet and training is the right one for him. Don’t forget this is a repeat offender at the low 2:40 marathon mark and his win in 2012 seemed effortless. Taking away from that infamous "eat the pain" moment in 2012 and Jacobs becomes a master of all he surveys.
If the green light flashes for Jacobs this weekend then the possibilities are endless and the tiger will once again roar. We say, if.