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Experiences

THE PERFORMER

Chris McCormack

Text — Dirk Rheker Photos — Maurice Haas Date — 10 October, 2012

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Chris McCormack has accomplished a lot as a pro triathlete. Clearly, he is here to win. But what is most striking about “Macca” is the passion and enthusiasm he has for the sport.

It’s kilometer 39. The cramps in his thighs have finally gone away. Swiftly, the athlete downs some water, gel and an isotonic drink at the hydration station. With renewed vigor, Chris “Macca” McCormack flies onward, towards the finish line, driven by a mix of endorphins, adrenaline and sheer will. A few Australian fans, on mountain bikes, appear next to their idol. They cheer him on enthusiastically, just as at many other waypoints during that day in the heat of Hawaii’s lava fields. The track has been cordoned off to the sides. Chris ­McCormack bulls through the tunnel of unbridled shouting and enthusiasm. Finally, he reaches the home stretch – after more than eight gruelling hours. As Macca sends his fans to the finish line, their throats grow sore with cheering. With his last strides, tears fill the winner’s eyes. Now, there’s nothing left but happiness, pure and unrestrained.

That was the summary of 2010’s Ironman Hawaii. It may have been one of the most thrilling duels of his career – three years after his first win. This time, Macca had run neck to neck with Andreas Raelert from Germany – until the final ten minutes, when he managed to launch a decisive offense, leaving his opponent behind. With his unbending will and the collective experience of 13 Ironman wins, McCormack had exercised the psychology of a real champion. “I had nothing to lose,” he explained afterwards. “I just told myself I’d stay in the moment.” He was 37 back then – the second oldest winner ever. Only American Mark Allen was one month older when he won his last race in Hawaii in 1995.

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When Chris McCormack won his first Ironman Hawaii in 2007, a collective sigh of relief rose from the in-crowd, as if to say: “It’s about time!” Three years later, he showed them all his stealth once more, by doing exactly what he em­phatically describes in his book: “I am here to win.” Macca’s ­recipe for success: if you want to belong to the world’s ­triathlon elite, you have to go above and beyond a daily ­regimen of training runs, swims and bike rides. Training, he argues, must also occur in the mind. “Each race is a battle,” he explains during a week of high-altitude conditioning in the Swiss Alps. “I never allow myself to think about the ­difficulties or the extreme challenges during the race – only about how to master them.” In the end, he defeats those doubts in his mind, just as he physically defeats his opponents.

Chris McCormack has always been defined by his strong mental control and his non-compromising attitude towards life. His competitions keep him focused on only one goal: to win the race. “I really shouldn’t have beaten Andreas in ­Hawaii,” Macca said about his younger opponent. “But on this day, and at this crucial moment, my will was just stronger than his.” He has managed time and again to intimidate his opponents, literally browbeating them mentally. Of course, he is a model athlete as well, every fiber in his body trained to the max. But “I believe my psychological ­advantage gives me the biggest edge over my competitors.”

Naturally, Macca had hoped to run the short distance in the London Olympic Games this year, but for varied reasons, the Australian Sports Commission did not nominate him. This was a big disappointment, but a champion has to deal with those, too. Instead, McCormack is considering competing at the Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Las ­Vegas this September, or to eventually take up the challenge of competing against cycling legend Lance Armstrong, who has moved on to triathlons and wants to measure himself against the best of the best. Such a meet-up would indeed be a battle of giants. Would he go for Ironman Hawaii one more time? “Only if I feel I actually have a shot at winning,” he says, unambiguously. That’s typical Macca: should he return to the Big Island, it won’t be to cheer on his colleagues at Palani Road, but to win. “I owe it to my wife and three children,” he said, before he takes his leave to go on a 10K training run. Yes, it has to do with passion and commitment. Of course, he owes it to himself as well.

Explore More Articles
Charlie-Echo-Romeo-Alfa-Mike-India-Charlie

Spelled using the international radio alphabet, the word "ceramic" looks and sounds rather impressive

Experience - AQ_RG_IW3769_972x516
Diving Watch Man

Of course he would not dream of venturing out around his favourite haunts around the Mediterranean without a proper wristwatch

The IWC Book

In this enormous tome from IWC, “IWC Schaffhausen. Engineering Time since 1868”, the story of the watchmaking company from Schaffhausen is told in greater detail than ever before

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Small World

Time moves the world. The IWC Portuguese Grande Complication is an understated, beautifully designed way of summarizing time as the motor of all change: a time machine that shows a tilted globe on the dial.

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Meet Azzam, the IWC Volvo Ocean Race's team ticket to victory. Our boat, designed by USA's Farr Yacht Design and built by Persico S.p.A in Italy, is one of the most sophisticated boats ever constructed

The Expert in Everything

Even today he can still feel the sense of pride that accompanied his first IWC steel watch, a Portuguese bought second-hand and paid for in installments

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The parallels are endless: technology, innovation and cutting-edge design dominate both businesses, and they’re both defined by time. The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One™ Team tries to beat the clock in FORMULA 1 motor racing; at IWC Schaffhausen, we are the clock.

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