Although triathlete Pete Jacobs is the reigning Ironman World Champion who competes on some of the most beautiful beaches around the globe, he still remembers with fondness the many hours he spent as a child on Sydney's Freshwater Beach, a relatively small stretch of golden sand that's often overlooked by beach-goers in favour of its more famous neighbours – Manly and Curl Curl. But for the thirty-two year old athlete that's where the appeal lies.
"I went to Nippers and Cadets, and I also did surf living saving on Freshwater Beach; so right up until I was 18 I spent a lot of time there each week. It's such a unique beach that's relatively small with a nice headland on either side that's relatively protected and it's in a great spot. The suburb of Freshwater is a great suburb as well. Byron will also always be special to me because that's where I had my honeymoon. We stayed at the Byron at Byron; that was a beautiful resort. We were there for about five nights and then we went into the hinterland to a rainforest retreat for another few nights," said Pete.
"I now live in Noosa though. We moved up here last year for a change of scenery for my training for Hawaii and also to be around a few of my peers for motivation and also to learn off a bit. And we really fell in love with it. We fell in love with the community feel of the entire area. Everybody wants to know where you're from and what you do and have a chat. But also the fresh produce; there's so many markets up there. That's really important to us. We love getting out to the markets frequently but also the great running, riding and swimming venues as well. So you have ocean swim every Sunday afternoon with the group, there's a beautiful pool and of course running in the national park and riding through the hinterland and the farming area; it's just beautiful country."
Pete captured the world's attention when he won the 2012 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii after completing the race in eight hours, 18 minutes and 37 seconds. He beat the second place competitor, German Andreas Raelert by five minutes and three seconds. This win was the result of ten years of focus and determination.
"When I won, it was a dream come true feeling. It's like Christmas, you're ten years old and you've wanted a present so badly and then you get it - just incredibly excited and happy," he said.
"I didn't know about Ironman Triathlon until I was 20 years old. From that point, it was my goal to win in Hawaii. So for ten years it was my goal. It wasn't so much the training, it was more the maturing and learning what I needed to do mentally that made the difference for winning. The mental approach is what changed, not just the training. It's a big learning curve being a professional athlete in a sport like this," said Pete.
It seems that all the learning has paid off for this professional athlete as his times continued to decrease over the past couple of years – he placed eighth in Hawaii in 2009, ninth in 2010 and runner-up in 2011 where Pete was beaten by another Sydney-born triathlete Craig Alexander, who completed the gruelling race in a record-breaking time.
Flight Centre Active Travel, which specialises in helping travellers compete and complete major sporting events and exciting active adventures such as trekking Kokoda, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro or running in the New York Marathon, have been assisting Pete with his travel budget for almost three years. The team at Active Travel were initially very impressed by Pete's incredible potential.
Tod Horton is the Global Business Leader for Flight Centre Active Travel.
"He is one of the nicest guys you would ever meet and very humble yet super confident in his abilities and goals. We increased his sponsorship and he went on to not only win, but smash the field and become Ironman World Champion. Only a few weeks after his win in Hawaii, he was in Noosa for the triathlon festival where he continued to show his love of the sport and supporters. I am convinced that he could be world champ for years to come," said Tod.
To conduct this interview, Flight Centre caught up with Pete the day before he flew to Cebu to compete in an Ironman 70.3 race – these half ironman competitions are used as a qualifier for the Hawaiian world championships. On this occasion, Pete finished an impressive second to Queenslander Courtney Atkinson by only one minute. Pete had previously competed in the Philippines where he had the opportunity of exploring some of the country's cultural sites.
"The Philippines is a great place. I was really blown away by the marine life and the cultural side of things; I find the Spanish influence in Asia really interesting. It's a fascinating place as well as being geographically beautiful," he said.
"When I arrive for competition you can't acclimatise. It's all in your head. Acclimatising to something is just getting used to it mentally really. I'll just do some visualisation. When I'm doing some training rides, I'll just visualise being in the race and that it's going to feel hot. And just practice some tricks to tell myself it's not that hot. You can learn to ignore the heat of the sun on your skin and things like that. It's all in the mind. After the race, I have Monday and most of Tuesday to relax and go swimming with the marine life and to enjoy the resort. I'm staying at the Shangi-La Mactan Resort."
As a professional athlete who travels regularly for competitions, we had to ask Pete his advice for staying healthy while flying long haul.
"I always wear compression socks when travelling, so when you arrive your ankles aren't too swollen. It's important not to stress your body soon after a big trip and that includes physical stress; so just very light exercise for the first couple of days, light riding or a walk but avoid anything high heart rate. Just get the body moving and the blood flowing and then as much as you can get off your feet, put your feet up a wall, just lie in bed to reset the fluids in your body or the lymphatic fluid. It's important to get that back to normal before you try and push yourself hard."
Let the Flight Centre Active Travel Specialists arrange your next adventure by calling them on 1300 220 293 or email the team using this online form.