Twenty-six year old Swedish phenom, Clas Bjorling, is making his mark on the sport of triathlon at a young age. Reminiscent of Aussie Luke Bell, Bjorling has stormed onto the Ironman distance circuit with recent impressive results.Making his homebase in Mockfjärd, Sweden, Bjorling placed 4th at Ironman New Zealand in 2003 as well as numerous podium finishes and wins in sprint races all the way up to the ½ Ironman in Queenstown, New Zealand.Bjorling made the gigantic leap into the professional world this past year under the tutelage of Ironman athlete/coach Gordo Byrn (who placed 2nd this year at Ironman Canada in a blistering run that was fastest of the day), and Ironman Hawaii World Champion, Scott Molina. Bjorling credits much of his success this year with his 2nd place finish in Ironman New Zealand, behind local superstar, Cameron Brown to his training as well as the variety of "Epic Camps" that Byrn and Molina hold each year.Coming off a 3rd place this year at IM Brazil in addition to a heavy training period that left him confident for Kona; Bjorling acknowledged that Hawaii this year was not his race due to a variety of factors including lost nutrition during the race as one of them. He coasted to the finish alongside Cameron Brown to finish in 9:32.45.I recently interviewed Clas. His thoughts on his career are below (he has also asked me to "clean-up" his English).
1.How did you get into the sport of triathlon?
I started as a runner when I was 18 years old and met other triathletes on some running races - they had me to try a local triathlon race. I swam breast stroke and rode in my running shoes; I finished 2nd - liked it a lot and I was in to the sport. This was 5 years ago.2.Many people have commented that you carry a lot of muscle for a triathlete, did you come from a body building background?
I came into the sport through weight lifting. I went with my friend to the gym when I was 15, I liked it from the first time. I liked both the training but also the social thing - meet friends, train and talk. I started to run once a week for fun when I was 17, but still lifted weights 6 times a week with a lot of killer sessions. I started to train more on unning when I was 18, but I still lifted weights 4 times a week.3. It appears that you "broke-through" at IM NZ in '04, what was it like placing 2nd to IM superstar-Cameron Brown?
I didn't think so much about him before the race, I know he was a better swimmer then me. Then I could ride the same speed but his marathon personal best in an Ironman was, back then, 11 minutes faster then me so I wasn't even thinking that I could beat him. There was also a lot of other good guys in the race, like Normann Stadler, Bryan Rhodes, Björn Andersson, Gordo Byrn. I knew if I had a great race I could finish in the top three. But of course when you're in 2nd place it's a big goal achieved and a special feeling. Then I was also running faster then Cameron and that was a great feeling too. So it was a "break through" for my Ironman racing because of my 2nd place, but something that I almost was more happy about was that I ran 6 minutes faster then Cameron, a 2:42 marathon. And that is what its take to win a big Ironman.4.How was your experience at IM Hawaii this year?
I was in great shape but it wasn't my day. It started with what was a good swim for me, but then on the bike I lost 600 of my calories and got a drafting penalty after 4 miles into the ride so it was a tough way to start the ride. I was scared to get another penalty which meant I would DQ. Then when I came off the bike I was way out of my goal of top<script> 10, so I just decided to run to the finish line as comfortable as possible and enjoy the day. I had done too much training for that race to just quit. I finish my race though, I had no reason to drop out, and I learned a lot from just keeping going. I'm so happy with my season with a 2nd place in NZ and 3rd in Brazil so I'm not too sad about Hawaii.5.How much of a factor has Gordo Byrn played in your career so far?
He has been helping me out a lot as a great training partner, a lot of good training ideas and I always have some good places to stay. It is also through him that I meet a lot of other good people llike Scott Molina who also have been helping me with my training. Without Gordo and Scott, I would still be racing in Sweden without any international good results. Check out their websites too: www.gordoworld.com and www.scottmolina.com6.What are your goals for the 2005 season?
Be a better swimmer and do one fast Ironman in the middle of the summer in Europe. That's my main goal, then I build my season after that and do some changes depending how I feel.7.Who do you look up to in triathlon?
Hard question, I don't have anyone that I really look up to or that I have on my wall in my training room. I have a lot of respect for this people that I get training ideas from. Scott Molina, Gordo Byrn, some from Dave Scott. They are all good people, but I don't look up to them - I'm not their biggest fan, but I respect them. I like people that live their dreams and don't give up.8.What was your most "demanding" workout this past season that left you exhausted?!
That's one hard question. I biked cross-country USA with Gordo, that felt like a long, hard workout, especially when I decided to race Brazil and had to pick the pace up the last 2 weeks so we made it to the east<script> coast in time. One season that I like a lot is duathlon season on my treadmill and indoor bike. Six bricks (1 K run, 10 min bike ,1 K run) all at a hard pace while having the same speed on the 2:nd run as the first one. One more "easy" workout I like is the long run. I like the feeling on a 2.5 hour run when the legs start to tighten up after about 2 hours, then just try to speed up a little bit past the last 30 min.9.What do you do in your spare time when you're not in training?
When I'm not at training camps I like to relax with my girlfriend Kristy Gough (who won her AG in Hawaii this year). When I train 35 hours a week I just like to lay down when I'm not training. Maybe go and check out some cafe for a hot cocoa.
Now when I'm home in Sweden for my easy weeks after Hawaii, I like to work with wood. I like to be out in the woods and cut trees to bring them home. Its a nice break from the triathlon training. I also like to ride motor-cross and drive snowmobile.10. What is your daily diet like?
Nothing to fancy. Oatmeal for breakfast. Pasta-rich with tomato and fish, chicken or meat for luch and dinner. When I try to lose weight I eat more salad, but I'm not a big fan of that, I try to eat a lot of fruits as snacks.11. What do you consider your strongest sport in triathlon to be?
Running for sure, this year I ran faster than most pros will ever do. 2:42 in NZ and 2:44 in Brazil.12. Do you plan to continue on your P3 for this season?
I like my Cervelo a lot and now, finally, I got a contract with Cervelo! I know that's good for them too because I like it a lot so it's easy for me to make a good advertisement for them. P3 is the best bike you can ride for an Ironman, and shorter distances also.13.What advice do you have for beginner triathletes as well as for those making the jump to Ironman distance?
Before you race a Ironman you should have raced a 1/2 Ironman, just to get a feeling for how it is. To go from Olympic distance races to Ironman is a long jump and you probably will go way too hard from the start. Learn to pace and eat right, then you are ready for an Ironman.
For beginner triathletes I just have one peice of advice: make sure that you do workouts that you enjoy doing. Later, if you want to be good in the sport, you might have to do some training that isn't so fun all the time. But in the beginning, keep it fun. If you like to run on the trails, do that. Don't run on asphalt because you read in some magazines that it's worse for your feet. If you like to moutain bike, do that. Don't be on the road bike more then you need too, to handle it safely in the races. If you like the training, you will do more and you will become better. Also have a look on my website www.clasbjorling.com, there you can find a lot of pictures, my training dairy and other things that might keep you motivated too plus a lot of great companies that are doing a great thing to help me out as my sponsors.
endurance sports, politics, reading, organic foods, coffee shops, great friends, good food, great drinks.