Pete Jacobs has thrice placed in the top 10 in Kona, coming second to three-time champion Craig Alexander in 2011. Yet unlike many globetrotting Aussies, Jacobs has opted to keep Sydney’s northern beaches as his full-time home, where he lives with his wife, age-group triathlete Jaimielle, thus keeping him mostly absent from the U.S. and European race and media scene. This will soon change, however, as Jacobs, who boasts the fastest run splits from Kona in 2011 (2:42:29) and 2010 (2:41:06—the third best ever on the Kona course) and who has more than 25 Ironman finishes to his credit, will bring his talent to a handful of stateside and European races this summer en route to what he hopes will be his first Kona crown.
Born to run: Friends occasionally make comments about my skinny legs. They call me “Chicken Legs.” They’re amazed that I can ride as well as I do. But skinny legs are better for running—look at the Ethiopians and Kenyans who run marathons in just over two hours. My legs may not look very strong but they get the job done for this career I’ve chosen. I embrace my genetics. You’ve got to get your confidence where you can.
Swim, bike, run, garden: Straight out of school I did my landscape apprenticeship—four years of work and study. Then, at age 22, I went full-time as an athlete. Now landscaping is just a downtime hobby. I haven’t done much in the few years since I moved out of mum and dad’s house, but their place looks all right.
Waterworks: It might be embarrassing if I eventually do win Kona. I haven’t seen any other bloke cry on stage, but when I picture myself up there I don’t think I could help it. Yeah, I am an emotional athlete. Emotional and then some!
In it to win it: I’m still surprised that I got second in Kona. I think in the entire world there must be people who are capable of swimming, riding and running faster than me besides one other guy! I mean obviously you have to believe you can win it, so you go into the race quietly confident, but still you never really believe that 100 per cent until you have a result like I did. There are factors that fall into my favour in Hawaii—I don’t sweat as much as other people so I don’t mind the heat on the run. But at the same time I’ve yet to win it. I’ve still got to get in better shape than 50 other blokes.
Mid-pack doesn’t sound so bad: People say I’m one of the top Ironman swimmers, but I can’t swim open water on my own. I’m deathly afraid of sharks. One year in Busselton [home to Ironman Western Australia and known for frequent shark sightings] I had a brilliant swim. I was out around the end of the pier, all alone with about a minute-and-a-half lead, so that was a little bit daunting!
To paraphrase Descartes: I don’t drink alcohol. I drink a little bit after a big race when I’m on a break, but once I start training again I don’t have a sip. If I’m committing that little bit extra, it keeps me that little bit more focused. It’s a sacrifice. But I think I’m better without alcohol, therefore I am.