Once upon a time a young and beautiful professional triathlete got invited to race the Escape from Alcatraz. She accepted and asked if her boyfriend could be a plus one. At the race, no one knew the plus one including the Race Director who repeatedly asked his name because he kept forgetting it. The plus one shocked everyone by defeating six-time champion Andy Potts by two seconds. After crossing the finish line, the Race Director grabbed the newly crowned champion and asked, “OK, seriously who are you and what’s going on?”
On June 12, Eric Lagerstrom will defend his 2015 title in what promises to be an epic rematch with Andy Potts. Eric’s girlfriend, Magali Tisseyre will also be racing. According to Eric, “Our dream is to end up on the podium together.”
byteclay.com recently spoke with Eric so that our readers and the Race Director will know what is going on.
Mark Davis: You’ve done the course; you are the defending champion and are no longer a plus 1.
Eric Lagerstrom: Yeah, last year I didn’t even see the run course before the race; I think that helped me stay in the moment. I’m probably going to do the same thing again, not even think about it and just be in the moment. It’s going to be a really interesting race this year. The field that IMG has put together is a lot of guys with similar profiles to Andy and me. Really strong swim/bikers. There’s going to be six of us coming off the bike together, maybe one person breaking away. That makes for a really exciting race. If you watch an Ironman, it’s just a bunch of people staring at their power meters or staring at a clock. They’re on the same course but it’s not the heads-up racing that’s really exciting.
MD: Take me through your battle with Andy Potts.
EL: I had no idea where I was going on the swim. I just figured out where Andy was and followed him. I came out right after him along with Cameron Dye. There was a group of us on the bike, me, Cam Dye, Kevin Collington and Andy. We were all chasing Josh Amberger who swam a risky line to shore and exited a minute ahead of all of us. We all came off the bike in place and I had a pretty good T3, the first mile on the run I started thinking I have no idea what this run’s going to be like. I’ve heard it’s eight miles, I cooled it just a little bit and Andy and Kevin Collington caught up. That’s when I settled in and took cues on pacing from Andy since he had done it enough times. At the top of the sand ladder he had me down by a little bit. As we started running down the other side of that hill up to the bridge, I made a move and brought the gap back down. We ran the last two miles together. He made the first move and we rounded the corner onto the grass and the finishing chute and I barely managed to cover it and get by him with about ten meters to go.
MD: You had the fast-twitch fibers working overtime.
EL: They were twitching fast enough. I’m sure it wasn’t the most glorious of sprints because that race makes your legs so tired. It was just barely enough. I’m thankful for the Olympic and sprint distance training that I did that year.
MD: You made a smart move following Andy on the swim.
EL: My biggest concern with the swim was I don’t have any idea where I’m going. There was all this talk about strategy, at what point do you enter what’s called “the current” or “the river” and I did not trust myself to see where I was going with the fog and the boat and everything. I had a bit of a tour guide for sure (laughs). I have a lot of respect for Andy. I went with the mindset that if I can finish close to him at the end of the day that’s going to be a pretty big success in my book.
MD: How did you know where Andy was? All the guys in wetsuits look the same.
EL: He’s pretty tall. Most of us pro triathletes are 5’ 8”, 5’ 9” and he’s about 6’ 1”. He wasn’t difficult to spot. I didn’t start right next to him on the bow of the boat. Like most races the first 50 meters everybody’s going really hard and it’s just crazy and you can’t see much. I grew up watching him on TV broadcasts so I know what his stroke looked like.
Next up: Eric talks about his quest for the Olympics and other rivals at the Escape from Alcatraz. Stay tuned…