By Marc-Antoine Christin.
The Canadian, Jeffrey Symonds surprised everybody with his recent 3rd place at the 70.3 WC. It reminds me Michael Raelert at Clearwater saying, wow Crowie knows my name, it’s crazy… Jeff is almost in the same league now. So we wanted to know more about this athlete since he represents the future of the Canada on the 70.3 circuit.
You’re only 25 years old, why have you been focusing on long distance such as the 70.3 series? I started pretty late in triathlon. When I did my first ever triathlon I was 20 and 2008 was my first year where I focused on triathlon and not track. 2008 was an amazing year for me as I was the U23 elite Pan American Champion and was able to represent Canada at the U23 ITU World Championships in Vancouver. Unfortunately, it was my first and last year as an U23 and was told by Triathlon Canada that if I wanted to see any support I would first have to podium at two world cups in the same year (This was before the WCS was around). I was put off by this and tried a half Ironman and fell in love with the Long distance non-drafting format. What attracts me to long distance racing is that there isn’t much strategy to it. The best strategy is always to work as hard as possible over the period that you are out there. I like knowing that every time I take a hard pedal stroke the other guys have to take one too.
You’ve said you want to be 70.3 World Champion, but is Craig Alexander really beatable? Absolutely. Craig is an amazing athlete, but the beauty of our sport is that on any given day anyone is beatable. What I need to do is use him as motivation to get myself to the start line next year with better fitness than I had this year and see where it stacks up. I am working really hard to line up a dream team of sponsors so that I can have the best equipment and the finances needed to not have to work a day job and train full time and then really see what I can do in the sport.
The course in Las Vegas is recognized as a hard one. Do you think it’s overrated? It’s tough, but Muskoka was tougher, at least for me. I am more suited to the long hills that the steep more explosive ups and down that a course like Muskoka has. I think we also got lucky in Vegas with a day that was a bit cooler than it could have been. I think that the toughness of Vegas did play into my strengths though. I have always thought of myself as a grinder and someone that can stay positive and keep moving forward even if my body is feeling completely haggard.
Any Ironman plans in the future or comeback in ITU racing? Ironman is more of a possibility but I am not in a rush. I like the 70.3 distance and right now I am continuing to get faster year after year without getting injured. However, Ironman Canada is the reason I got into triathlon and Kona is the ultimate goal. So Ironman will definitely happen. I may try an ITU race next year but drafting style racing really negates all of my strengths and amplifies my weaknesses. I would have to put some serious work in the pool to be competitive in the swim, I would also have learn how to ride a bike in a pack because right now I am danger to anyone who comes near me. Now that I look back those World Cup Podiums look a lot more reachable than they once did. However I can’t see that happening because as much as I love watching draft legal races, racing them drives me crazy. I need that go hard from the gun mentality for it to really be fun.
Who are your sponsors? How’s life for a pro triathlete these days? I probably shouldn’t comment on that too much as I am still investigating my options but I’ll just say that the response has been absolutely incredible. I have had some amazing companies approach me and I am in a position now where I can setup a dream team to help make myself and the companies successful for years to come. What is great is that the companies are interested not only because of my result but because of the excitement and passion in my finisher photo from the race. I am very proud of the passion that I have for the sport and the best part about triathlon is that you get to meet others that share that passion. Two sponsors that I will definitely continue with are my coach Kevin Cutjar of www.EndurancePlanner.com and my work The Bike Barn.