10 Questions with Philipp Kloeber, Ironman Malaysia Age-Group 2nd Place Finisher
No stranger to hard work, consistency and the improvements which come along with it, Philipp Kloeber is well known to PURPOSE. A strong ambassador of the brand and products since 2018, Philipp has been breathing PURPOSE ever since.
Equally, we are also proud to have been able to follow his journey. From his first 70.3 race in Indonesia in 2019 to his now podium finish at IRONMAN Malaysia, Philipp’s accomplishments, on top of a high-intensity full-time occupation, are nothing short of inspiring. A true advocate of the brand, and the sport, as well as a fantastic example of what it means to chase your purpose through triathlon, Philipp shares with us his experience on his sixth 70.3 competition and rising from beginner to regional elite status finishing with a strong 2nd placed podium spot and consecutive World Championship qualification.
For his Ironman Malaysia 70.3, Philipp wore one of his custom-designed PURPOSE x Sea Shepherd racing tri suits. Philipp has also been a fully plant-based athlete for over 5 years now, hence the PURPOSE x Sea Shepherd suit is a homage to his lifestyle and beliefs.
1. What were your goals going into the race?
I went with high expectations into the race and wanted at the minimum to qualify for World Champs in Lathi 2023 and beyond that podium finish, if possible. I knew the course from 2019 with its hilly ride and flat hot run without shade. I had prepared for such a course profile basically over the last 6 months with my coach Juergen, also in the lead-up for Desaru 70.3 in Malaysia.
2. What ran through your thoughts as you start the race?
I remember warming up at our hotel balcony at 4.30 am in the morning prior to heading to T1 and thought: today is the day. I felt confident and strong that I could execute to my potential. Of course, the normal nervousness and adrenaline rush kicked in just before the gun went off but this helps me to focus and settle into the moment.
3. It was raining, and Langkawi is well known for its steep climbs and descents. What did you have to change due to the wet and sometimes flooding road conditions?
We had continuous torrential rainfall before, partially during and after the race. When I checked in my bike and run gear the day before the race, I was worried the rain would short-circuit my di2 and flood my wheels.
On race day, I intentionally took more time to check and reset my bike: dried and re-lubed the chain and made sure no water was left in my battery compartment as well as any of my in-build frame storages.
During the bike leg itself, I was lucky to escape the worst as I was in the front pack of the field so the heavy rain only hit during the later part of the run. There was some light rain and the roads were still soaked and wet from the previous days, however, the clouded sky and cooling drizzle helped me to worry less about pushing myself too hard on the bike. I was still careful not to overdo the climbs, but really made an effort to push hard on the downhills and flats to make the best use of my disc wheel. The disc wheel was the right choice for this course for me, I caught a few guys that way.
4. What’s your power data like? Is it on target? Higher? Lower?
I tried to not over-push the uphills and go as hard as I could on the downhills, especially since the heat was not a major factor on that day. Overall, my power was a bit lower than what I was aiming for. There were quite a few sharp turns and sections where you had to slow down which contributed to this as well. I did finish with a top 10 overall bike split, but it is my goal to further improve my biking.
5. Going into the run, you know there was someone ahead. How confident were you about catching up to him?
Since my last race in Desaru, I tried to concentrate less on who was behind or in front of me early in the run and focus only on myself. I had a few back-and-forths with Guillaume who finished 3rd – he pushed very aggressively on the run initially but my intuition told me I would catch him, which I did.
I was glad that we had a loop on this course and it motivated me to see various established athletes (some of them full-time) behind me. Passing them I wanted to exert: there’s no overtaking me today. It really pushed me.
6. What was your pacing strategy during the run?
The weather was perfect for the run and I had hoped for rain. After the sky broke, I adopted my strategy and accelerated earlier than planned. Retrospectively, I was maybe a bit too conservative in my run-pacing, in that, I started a bit too slow. However, having learned my lesson in Da Nang earlier this year, the weather could have also cleared and temperatures could have easily increased by 5+ degrees with the sun out. I had plenty of fuel left in the tank and this is something I will take back with me for further refinement. Regardless, I felt very strong during the run and the weather played into my strengths.
7. Was the outcome what you wanted? What will you improve, if any?
The outcome was another reality check for me and is aligned with where I saw myself on that day. Nevertheless, this was only a snapshot in time and I have an ever-growing list of points I want to improve on. There are a number of inspiring fellow athletes who are doing things much better than me and I want to continue learning from them to further close the gap.
8. How many times have you done Ironman 70.3 Malaysia? Would you do it again?
This was my second time racing that course and it remains to be one of my favourites. The energy of the island is unique and I will definitely come back. I love Langkawi.
9. What’s next on your race calendar? What will you focus on?
Preparation for 2023 is already about to begin, and in short, I will work on further improvements in all three disciplines. I will be spending my Christmas break with ZCoaching in Phuket to lay the foundation.
There are two workstreams I am following for 2023: one is to improve my 70.3 game and also experience the World Champs in Lathi, Finland in August next year. Besides that race, I have only confirmed Desaru Ironman 70.3 in May for now. However, I am likely participating in another race before that which I haven’t decided on yet.
The other workstream is to prepare for my full-distance debut and try to qualify for World Champs in Hawaii. Possibly through Ironman 140.6 in Busselton in November/December.
10. Are there anyone you’d like to thank?
It takes a small village of people to support and inspire me whilst managing a demanding full-time job outside of triathlon:
- Jane, who is the engine room for basically everything,
- Juergen Zaeck (Zcoaching), who has been coaching me for close to 3 years now – he’s been a friend and critical mentor to me in so many aspects,
- Arjun Kandikuppa, as a close friend, training partner and just an elite amateur Ironman triathlete sharing his knowledge and experience with me,
- Benson Ng (VeloHub), who is a friend and a master in his field when it comes to anything related to bike mechanics. He is also just an awesome human being,
- Noor (PURPOSE), who has accompanied me for most of my triathlon journey and has become a close friend in the whole process. I am really proud to be part of Team PURPOSE,
- Claire Parson (Swimsmooth Singapore), as my (patient) swim coach,
- Colin O’Shea (COS Coaching and Swimsmooth Singapore), as my group swim coach and also a highly inspirational person,
- Kris Martenstyn (Secret Training Singapore), who helped me revisit my plant-based nutrition strategy and became a friend as part of this journey,
- Tim Lim (Loue Bicycles), who has helped me re-fit my bike various times specific to my body specs – an absolute legend and master in his field,
- Jeri Chua (Red Dot Running Company), who gave me nutrition advice early on and continues to supply me with plant-based racing and training nutrition,
- Ivy Zhang (Heartland Physio), who continues to help me work on strength and mobility,
- Nick Glover (Naked Endurance Coaching), who has been accompanying me on my triathlon journey since day one and is an important friend and mentor,
- Nick Jonsson, as an important friend and inspiration in many ways, and
- Nick Harris, a mentor, best friend and life-long companion at the other end of the world