For South African Ironman Champion, Kyle Buckingham, it’s been two years since he’s travelled abroad and competed on an international stage. This month he’ll finally get a chance to line up and put his training to practise in the Ironman European Championships taking place in Frankfurt, Germany on the 15thof August 2021.
He’s currently at the Tuscany Camp in Italy preparing for the big race and we got a chance to speak to him about lockdown, training, racing and how the big changes in his life over the past year – the birth of his son and loss of his mother – have impacted his focus.

How did you go about training and staying fit during lockdown?

[KB] I fortunately have a treadmill in my house and an indoor cycle trainer so the only thing I didn’t do much of was swim for the first 3-4 months of lockdown in 2020. I kept myself motivated during this time and just wanted to work on my weaknesses.

What is the biggest lesson you learned from the pandemic?

[KB] To spend more quality time with the ones you love, and focus on the things you can only control.

How long before an international race do you travel to the location and how do you acclimatise?

[KB] It depends on where the race is and what climate I am racing in. Germany is usually hot so coming from SA Winter I had to arrive in Europe a few weeks early to get used to the Summer heat again. Travelling also takes a huge toll on the body, so if it’s an international race I prefer to go 3-4 weeks before the race.

What items always go in your hand luggage?

[KB] My race suit, hand sanitizer, eye mask for sleeping and ear plug to drown out the noise. I also carry compression socks for the flight, electrolytes and my hypervolt massage gun.

How do you manage nutrition when travelling abroad and during international races?

[KB] It’s a little harder to do so I pack my own snacks like nuts and fruits as well as prepare my own on the go meals

Has becoming a father changed the way you approach your athletic career?

It has actually, I feel even more motivated than before. I’m not only doing this for myself but for my family as well.

What is it about the Ironman race that you love?

I just love the satisfaction after such a tough race. All the hard work involved in such preparations leading up to the race, it’s kind of overwhelming when it’s all done and to look back at what you went through.

Do you have any pre-race rituals and if so, what?

I do like to write things down before the race so I can tick them off and be as well prepared as I can. I also like to do lots of meditation and be in my own mind before the race and not worry about others.

What are your top recovery tips?

Eat good food, hydrate with electrolytes, feet up as much as possible, foam roll, Epsom salt bath, sit in the Normatec boots and the big one – good sleep.

How has your recent personal loss of your mother impacted not only your performance but also  your mindset going into a huge race that’s taken years of training?

It’s been a very emotional time for me being so far from home at this point in time. There are times when I’m out cycling or running and I just burst into tears. My mother wanted this for me, she wanted me to travel and pursue my dream of being a professional. She was my biggest fan ever, went to all of my 11 Ironman African Championships and was also so interested to hear what I was up to all the time. I look up to the sky’s every day when I’m training and say to her that I’m doing this for you. It’s inspired me even more because I know she’s watching down on me, seeing what I do every day. I will be racing for her this Sunday and my family, there’s a lot of built up emotion going into this event but I want it to fuel me the whole day.
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