Welcome to a new series of Tritons profiles; with no races forthcoming in 2020 we need to focus on ourselves and enjoying what we have here in Hong Kong. In that spirit you could be asking yourself “how well do I know that person I swim over/into/with every Wednesday at Repulse Bay?”; “what makes him get up every Tuesday and do hill repeats?” And now, here is your chance to learn more about those who also wear the Trident… we will be irregularly interviewing 2 Tritons members to find out more about them.
Cae: Welcome to “Coffee with Cae” an irregular and hopefully entertaining look at the parts that make us a whole. To kick us off, we’re hitting the upper ranges of AG in Tritons: I’m speaking with the French Connection (but with less Gene Hackman): Anne Knecht Boyer and Marc Abecassis. So how long have you both been Tritons?
Marc: I've been a Triton for 10 years
Cae: wow… that makes you one of the longest standing members?
Marc: Yeah, pretty much I think. Member #007? If there was such a thing.
Anne: Not that long, compared to Marc: only 4-5 years. I’m joined through SwimLab but as I live in Tung Chung and work at weekends it's hard to train with you all but racing with the team is fun.
Cae: So how many years have you been racing? What was your first race?
Anne: My first race was in Seattle racing Olympic distance; I was 26 years old and I loved it. So 36 years
Cae: So have you been racing throughout this time? When did you make the move to half and full distance?
Anne: Well, my first 70.3 was in Singapore in 2007 and then I went full distance in 2009 in China, where I qualified for Kona!
Cae: So Marc, what about you? Do you beat 36 years?
Marc: no, only 17 years for me!
Cae: that’s quite a long time, although Anne is trumping you. So what was your first triathlon? And tell us briefly about your triathlon journey
Marc: Actually I really started way back when living on Long Island NY (probably around 2000), the race venue was Robert Moses State park I wore a windsurf wetsuit (it was pretty rough Atlantic Ocean) and was riding a mountain bike with knobby tyres. That's how it all started; all very different from now!
Cae: so, what is your favourite race and why?
Marc and Anne (simultaneously): Nice
Cae: Haha! Did you rehearse that?
Anne: Even though the swim is a washing machine in Nice, the water is lovely; the bike course so magnificent smelling lavender and chamomile on the long climb is distracting and I love down hills
Cae: I didn’t notice the floral scents on the hills last year, just the strong Europeans passing me with their disc wheels whirring…
Marc: I really love the scenery and the hills, and the run along the Promenade de Anglais; the cheering…
Anne: Yes! The atmosphere on the promenade is so unique and vibrant! Although I've done Kona, Nice is my #1!
Cae: As the tagline said for 70.3 World Championships: “Unique, historique, legendaire!”; so more recently, what have you done in the last year that you are proud of?
Marc: for me it was my 5th AG place in Luizhou 70.3; Chinese 70.3 races attract a strong field so I was proud.
Anne: Previously I have done an ultra trail marathon 48 Km Cortina d’Empezzo Dolomites which was a real challenge for me, but in the last year, I would say it was to complete Estonia IM after a broken collarbone followed by a broken fibula. To come back with an Ironman and to finish on the podium… I was super happy
Cae: In a race report from a particularly tough Rottnest Channel swim I read Paul Newsome concluding that the only bad swim is one from which you learn nothing. In that vein, what race taught you something important and what was that lesson?
Anne: That’s easy: it was my first Nice ironman and I got a puncture couldn’t change my inner tube. I found it way too hard with the Zipp 404. Sadly I had to DNF and I was so down I taught myself to fix a flat tyre soon after the race so no more DNF (at least for this technical problem).
Cae: So you learnt to fix your own puncture! I’m sure there’s a broader life lesson there.
Marc: The lesson I’ve learnt is to become more resilient. I went down to dark places on my first IM but I came back stronger.
Cae: So you found somewhere you can dig and find more when the run gets tough and you hit that wall
Marc: Absolutely. I was training with guys who were stronger and faster than me in training but they just couldn’t keep on moving when it got tough.
Cae: So you are both accomplished triathletes… any sports you suck at?
Marc: For me its soccer, I suck at dribbling and commit a lot of fouls because I play it like the rugby player I used to be
Anne: Easy: volleyball. A hard ball travelling toward me far too quickly
Cae: Back to triathlon, which of the three disciplines do you dislike most and how do you get through it?
Anne: Well, it depends on the race. While the swim is usually easy, I don’t like a mass start, where I can panic
Cae: and pity the swimmer who touches your feet! I speak as one who has made that mistake!
Anne: that’s only in the pool! But both other disciplines have their challenges: after 150km its too easy to I start to ask myself : “are we there yet” and when windy or specially super hot like Taiwan or Malaysia that can wear away at your inner strength. For me, the run is now the most challenging leg, as my time sucks more over the last 5 years, which I suppose is part of entering 55 to 59. But I am still in the game and I still finish
Cae: nice. I love your perspective. Marc, any disciplines you dislike?
Marc: If I did I would have chosen another sport.
Cae: ok… moving on: so tell me, what food do you crave after the big dance?
Marc: junk food. It’s the only time I get crazy on it. Burgers, fries, ice cream…
Anne: yes! A nice juicy cheese burger, but also popsicles, and fruit (at the finish line)
Cae: so, tell us something about yourself that will make us go “oh! I wouldn’t have thought that! about them!”
Marc: I once had a job involving calling customers in UK. I was based in Paris at the time, but wanted to create the impression I was not. So I had business cards printed in the name of Mark Smith, would pretend I lived in Bath in Somerset (which involved checking up on Bath weather on a daily basis… and this was pre-internet)
Anne: In 1988 I received a call from the Swiss triathlon Association inviting me to the “Triathlon série 1988-1989”. This was because I was ranked #6 among the national ladies. Wow! I didn’t know that I was performing so well ! Swiss German ladies are tough cookies
And 2018 AWA rankings I was Canada #1 and #7 in my AG; this has given me wings to complete a couple more.
Cae: Anne, you truly are a machine! So, final question guys: who should I interview next time?
Marc: my fellow European, Federico, I’d love to know the story behind the athlete
Anne: For me it’s Mandy, to learn about her chasing Kona world championship, her determination and hard training “chapeau”!
Cae: I fear that seems like nepotism, but I did ask you! So fellow Tritons, join me in thanking Anne and Marc for their time and join me next time, when I’ll be having a virtual coffee and cake with Federico, Mandy and… Yves (who I’ve thrown in as a last minute executive decision)!