The fourth fastest athlete to ever grace the IRONMAN Western Australia course, Perth’s Matt Burton, is heading back down the coast on 5 December to take the extra step up the podium and to re-ignite his IRONMAN career, stalled for almost two years by the global pandemic.
While Matt will take centre stage on course at Busselton, it could well be his wife Kim and ‘baby’ Burton who ultimately steal the limelight in the race to the finish line, with their first child due to arrive on race day.
“In terms of where I left off in my career, Busselton will always be the race we want to win. It is a home away from home for us and we spend a lot of time down there, so the win is important to both of us.”
“Kim has always been so supportive of my career and I think if we hadn’t been through the last two years that we’ve had, it might have been different and I would have definitely reconsidered racing. It is fair say we have had long chats about whether she comes down to the race but ultimately we decided she would stay with her mum in Perth and work with the midwife who has been helping us so far. My mum is coming down to Busselton but with the proviso that ‘if you don’t see me during the race, you will know what is happening’.”
“I am a punctual person, so I hope he or she comes early, but as the old story goes the baby will come when it wants to and that could be on race day. All I have to do is race on 5 December, I know Kim has the hard job,” he said.
Matt said his relationship with sponsor BLACKROLL® has not only been good for his maintenance and preparation but has also helped Kim during her pregnancy.
“As I have been learning when your wife is pregnant she is very uncomfortable all the time, so pillows are like gold. So we have put the RECOVERY PILLOW to good use in many ways. I also sleep with the RECOVERY PILLOW during the day and use it on the couch. It has been a god send.”
Coping with effectively two years out of racing and watching his world ranking plummet, TEAM Burton is determined to make Matt’s return to Busselton a double celebration and the first step in rejuvenating his career.
“I had to sit back in 2021 watching the northern hemisphere going about racing as normal and my ranking dropped from 30 to 180. My current fitness level and ability does not relate to that number. When IRONMAN Western Australia announced a pro race it became even more important for me than usual and some of the best news I have had in two years.”
Disappointing journeys to IRONMAN Cairns and IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast reinforced the importance of arriving at key events ‘race fit’ and that preparation has been driving Matt during the past three months.
“When I got home it was all about Busselton, I was going to race every short course event that is on our WA calendar during heavy training because I needed that match fitness. At the Sunny Coast it was the stupid little errors and I wasn’t committed to going after it. Now I have raced five weeks in a row in short course, duathlons, Olympic distance, I had a three day stage race in Margaret River to get that feeling of ‘ready, set, go’, committing to the task at hand and making that racing feeling a habit.”
“The last couple of months have been really good and I was at a bike race recently and people were coming up to me asking about how my Busselton preparation. It is wonderful have them interested in what I am doing and is feeling like WA is getting behind me again. Once the gun goes my focus will be all about winning and in as quick a time as possible to get back to see Kim. Fingers crossed I will beat the baby to the finish line too,” he said.
Matt’s IRONMAN Western Australia preparation has meant three months of 40 hours a week training plus hard racing which takes an enormous toll on the body.
“When you are training to this level there is always something to attend to. Having all the BLACKROLL® gear at home is great. Anytime I get a little niggle I don’t have to hassle my physio or masseuse to see me that night. I have such an array of things to use, so the responsibility has become more about me which is cool. All the different shapes, the balls and the double balls have been great in releasing the tension in the trigger point areas.”
“Your feet cop so much abuse and I neglected them for 13 years so I tend to look after my feet a lot more now. BLACKROLL® have a MINIi roller and people see it and say what is it? But I would never have treated my feet but I see my podiatrist once a week for treatment and general maintenance and then I use this small roller for general care. I think that has been a real positive in how things have been responding.”
“The gear will be great to travel with and BLACKROLL® have thought well ahead of everyone else. They make products that are travel size, rollers and massage balls and everything wraps up. The RECOVERY PILLOW folds up to nothing, so you can pop it in your backpack. I look forward to using it all when I travel a fair bit more over the coming year,” he said.
IRONMAN Western Australia’s field will suffer from travel restrictions in 2021 but the quality is irrelevant to Matt because it will be the performance and the winning time that will be the global focus.
“Qualifying to race the world championship in Utah in May would be great but Hawaii is why I have stayed in the sport. At Busselton I have an opportunity to qualify using a home race which is a luxury and something I am definitely looking forward to,” he said.
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