WELL RESTED: Luke McKenzie during last year's Ironman World Championship.
WELL RESTED: Luke McKenzie during last year's Ironman World Championship. Mark J. Terrill

Cool hand Luke raring to go again after break

TRIATHLON: Luke McKenzie says some time away from long distance racing helped him re-emerge as a force.

The 36-year-old from Noosa Heads recently finished second in the gruelling Ironman Australia at Port Macquarie, following a win at Ironman Wisconsin in November.

They're impressive results after a hiatus from competing in the extended events.

"I had a few injuries (in) 2016 and I felt just needed to get a few things right,” McKenzie said.

"It was the best decision for me because I was able to go away and was able to really assess how I was going to attack the last bit of my career. And to put two of the best runs of my career together back to back in the last two events - to win at Wisconsin and to come second here - it just goes to show you're never down and out. Sometimes a little time away is better than anything.”

A nine-time ironman champion and 2013 ironman world championship runner-up, McKenzie showed some of his best form on Sunday, when he clocked 8hrs18min10sec.

He finished 3min33sec behind Belgium's Marino Vanhoenacker after the 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km run.

"I'm proud of the way I raced. To be able to push one of the best ever athletes to the line like that,” he said.

"He's given it his all... any time I race against guys like Marino... it really gives me a big kick to be that close to him, I'm stoked.”

McKenzie had the leader under pressure, especially when they hit the marathon, but it wasn't to be.

"In the first 20km I was reeling the guys in and I backed myself to try and run down the deficit but coming into that last lap I just knew that it was not going to happen,” McKenzie said.

"I was at my maximum and the time was starting to go back at a bit again and I just had to concede for second.

"This is such a tough race, this one. My swim let me down ... I think that missing that front group in the swim.

"I rode my own race, just knew what I could do and produced a good run so I'm glad I stuck to my guns in the end and I couldn't have done any more.”

Vanhoenacker broke the course record. Sunshine Coasters David Dellow, who was last year's champion, and Casey Munro failed to finish.


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