A few weeks later, after another club time trial, we got to chat a little and introduce ourselves. From the accent, I knew he was from another hotbed of triathlon a tiny distance to the south, Australia. Growing up down under, Kano had built quite the resume in the sport but had just taken some time off as he moved to Canada. He and his fiancee (now wife) were just getting settled in the area and he was feeling the itch to compete once again.
After using the 2010 season to get back into form, Kano had planned out an amazing calendar of races for 2011. He had a few of the favourite local races mixed in with some famous selections south of the border. I knew from a few of our training sessions that he was in great shape as he ramped up for Ironman Louisville so I was very surprised to hear about his illness that sidelined him just a few months before the big race. Unfortunately, a string of set backs followed so he had to pass up many of the events he had worked so hard to prepare for, ultimately tossing the 2011 triathlon season away.
Thankfully, this tough Aussie is feeling healthy again and is ready to take aim on a promising 2012!
10 Questions with Kane Picken
Q1. How did you get started in the sport of triathlon?
- In my late twenties, I was at a difficult point in my life. I needed to make some changes. I had always been active but had found myself sliding quickly out of control. So, I decided it was time to get happy and healthy. A short run to the end of our road kicked it off. Originally, it was to get fit for the up coming rugby season but, when I stumbled across an adventure race in Men’s Health, my focus changed direction. My dad bought a mountain bike for me he had seen for sale and away I went. The adventure race was a three-man team so my uncle, dad and I entered and had an absolute blast! A couple of weeks later I raced my first triathlon 300m/10k/2.5k and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Q2. How tough was it to sit out most of 2011 due to health issues?
- Some years are forgettable, 2011 is going to be one of them. It was extremely tough. For all of us time is precious, especially, when you spend all your spare time training for triathlons. I’m sure many can relate to me when I say I had minute-by-minute of everyday planned out. Ironman Louisville was my main target for the year and I was ready to go big. I was the fittest I had ever been and determined to reach my goals. Being hospitalized and diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis certainly brought the wheels to a screeching halt. I think the news that racing Louisville was now out of the question was harder to take than the diagnoses. Being 2 months out from the race, I felt I still had time. Once I had recovered, I began training again in hope there was still a chance. However, after my second hospital visit, and a mere 6 hours from death due to organ failure, I realized it was time to let it go. I still traveled to Louisville to be a part of the action. I was surprised by the visit of my mum and one of my sisters. What I learnt from all this was it's time to listen to my body. Rest when you’re tired; take two days off if that’s what you need, be smart.
Q3. What are your long term goals in the sport?
- My long term goals in the sport of triathlon are to make multiple visits to Hawaii for the World Championships. I want to win my age group at a domestic Ironman event. Also, I would like to take a trip to Las Vegas for the 70.3 World Championships. I would like to continue to love the sport and enjoy doing it for the right reasons. Lastly, I hope to inspire more friends to get involved so they can reap the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.
Q4. How do you motivate yourself to push through all the long training hours?
- I’m motivated by the fact that I like to work hard and I like to see results (I’m not happy with my results). I’m motivated by my long-term goals. I’m motivated because I’m not the best so there is always room for improvement. Training for triathlons, and competing in them, is rewarding and a positive way to live life.
Q5. What piece of gear would you love to purchase if you had an unlimited budget?
- Electronic shifters
Q6. What is your favourite training session?
- It’s a toss up between a long ocean swim with mates or a long brick session. I love the ocean swims as there is no black line, the water is clear and beautiful, it’s peaceful and I like nothing more than swimming in salt water. Long brick sessions are tough and rewarding. Spending 6hrs of your Saturday or Sunday out on the road and trails isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, it builds real character and confidence.
Q7. Do you have any sponsors you would like to mention or thank?
- Clif Bar has given me great support and I’m happy to refer anyone to try their products. They have a huge selection for every kind of workout or recovery and the best thing is they taste great. Steve Keating, owner of Du, tri and Run in Streetsville, has given me amazing support. I’m very thankful for his generousity. For any of your triathlon needs in the Mississauga area, be sure to visit Steve. Maverick Hair Studio for men. It’s the place to go for stylish haircuts to keep you looking fast. Lastly, if you’re in the Erin area, “The Shed” has great coffee and super friendly staff to boot.
Q8. What do you find different between Australian and Canadian triathlon at the local level?
- Truthfully, there is not a huge amount of difference. Taking nothing away from the competition here, which has plenty of great athletes, I find the competition goes a lot deeper in each age group back home. Some races cracking the top 20 can be hard. Canada lacks in the number of Pros racing at each event. However, I like what Multisport Canada is doing this year with the Elite Age Group division and some prize money to go with it. Other than that, both countries have great race options, friendly competition and are well organized.
Q9. Who is the one triathlete you would love to spend a training week with?
- I can’t go past Craig Alexander. He is a humble, hardworking champion who always puts his family first.
Q10. What is the best piece of training advice you have received and from whom?
- Something that I live and die by now, especially after last year’s issues, is it's better to do too little rather than too much. Over training will only lead to injury. This was advice given to me by my Uncle, a multiple Hawaiian Ironman finisher.
Make sure you follow Kane on his blog @ http://kanepicken.blogspot.com/ !