Vlad's 'special abilities' take him to world #1
Anyone who has ever wondered how serious ultradistance runner Vlad Ixel is about Triathlon needs to think again.
The Australian vegan has been known as a trail ultradistance runner for some years, and the decision to add cycling and swimming may have been surprising to some. This years’ events may have quietened their concerns.
On March 25th Vlad was one of 1257 athletes who started the Davao, Phillipines 70.3 ironman. The event consists of a 1900 metre swim, 90 km cycle and half marathon (21.1 km) swim, adding up to 70.3 miles. Vlad’s completion of the course in under 4 hours 41 gave him 26th place overall and a win in his age group.
In May he competed in Cebu (Phillipines) over the same distance, crossing the line just seconds outside 4:30, again winning his age group.
Next stop saw Vlad competing in Bintan, Indonesia. Another strong performance saw him coming in at 4:41:27, another age group win.
The three wins come after three wins on two feet – wins over 21 and 23 km in the Perth Trail race series and an amazing course record in The North Face 100 ultra in April. He’s clearly still a man capable of amazing things as a runner.
Storming the rankings
However, it’s a measure of his success that Vlad is now ranked #1 in the world in his age group over the 70.3 Ironman distance. “Yeah its been a great few months of racing with age group wins in the last three 70.3 Ironman events” Vlad told Great Vegan Athletes in what we feel is a massive understatement “and being ranked number one in the world in the age group is definitely nice.”
Whether this is a transition or a diversification is another matter.
“I moved a little towards triathlons to change things up for a while – get outside my comfort zone and learn new skills” he says. “I also have to be smart about the amount of running I’m doing if I would like to keep racing for a long time. I have ran about 140-160km almost every single week for the past 5 years and without a running base of years of running as a kid that most runners have, that's a lot of running.
“Definitely training for three sports rather than one is much harder but I think it’s part of the challenge and I will keep cycling and swimming even though I’m about to start my trail running season.”
As to where an athlete who has achieved these things goes next, Vlad has some answers which include a 100mile trail race in 2019 and 3-4 triathlon races during the year.
“I will definitely do a full Ironman in the future but it might be the year after as 2019 might be a little more about trail running.“
It’s a remarkable position that the determined Australian finds himself in, but not one he arrived in by chance.
“One year ago I couldn’t swim more than 25m without stopping and I didn’t own a bike” he wrote on his Facebook page recently “One year ago just finishing a 1.9km swim, 90km ride and after all that running half a marathon would have seen crazy to me. But I just showed up to training sessions, when it was cold, when it was raining, when it was hot, when I was tried, after long working days, when it was dark, when it was late, when it was early I just kept on showing up. And to people who think I have any special abilities – yes I have a special ability, and it’s called showing up. Day after day, session after session I was there doing the hard work, and I assure you at times it wasn’t fun or wasn’t easy and a suffered a lot! But it’s our struggles that determine our success!”
It’s impossible even to follow Vlad on social media without getting a taste of the thrill he derives from his gruelling events – which are linked to the vegan diet he’s been following since late 2012. He once wrote:. “Two of the best things I have ever done for myself and my body was start running and become vegan. My life is full of goals and joys and it’s all thank to a healthy vegan diet. Sometimes I ask myself how come not everyone is vegan? How come I never knew how good it is being vegan? I wish everyone just gave it a go for few days/weeks and see the difference for themselves."