Enzo is a high performance age group triathlete from Veneto, Italy who got into the sport in 2009 by chance. He's a great example of how sometimes, as non-professionals, we need to put times and rankings aside and focus on what's important. In the 2017 Hawaii Ironman Championships he happily gave up a number of top places in his age group to wait for his friend for over 10 minutes so that they could cross the finish line together.
What brought you to triathlon? Do you think that a sporting background as a child is important in order to be competitive in age group racing?
I started training for triathlon by accident. In 2009, I won a racing bike and I'd been swimming for a few years before. At that point I said, "why not try it "? so in September of 2009 I did my first sprint. I have participated in a lot of sports in the past (soccer, skiing, tennis, basketball) and I think having a sports background helps to "grow" more quickly in triathlon. Certainly, however, it is not a sport forbidden to someone who has never done any sports in their life. It always depends on your purpose and the goals you want to achieve.
Where do you live now and what benefits and/or limitations does your area have for training?
I live in Annone Veneto, a small town in the province of Venice. Here I have the chance to have both flat land and up hills, and luckily without much traffic. But if I want to climb, I must drive for at least 1 hour before I find any mountains.
How many hours do you train per week and how do you manage to balance everything in your life together?
I train between 8 to 15 hours a week, it depends on my free time and the date of the races. I try to fit my workouts in between my commitments with my work and my family. Early in the morning, I often go to the pool and during the evening after I get back from work I go for a run. During the weekend, I wake up at sunrise to finish my workout as soon as possible in order to spend time with the family. It is a very big sacrifice but if it keeps me healthy and stays fun, I will continue to do it.
Do you feel that triathlon eats into your social life and how do you feel about that?
Absolutely not. My dearest friends (who do not do triathlon) can confirm that! I lead a normal life. It's only the month before the race that I pay more attention to what I eat, and I don’t drink alcohol at all. So, yes, in that period I am less fun!
Was there ever a time when you were close to quitting? What keeps you going through the tough times?
Not so far, I do try to blow off some steam from October to March. In this period, I do what I must do, without any schedule. This charges me up enough so I can start again with my training in the spring.
Do you have a visualization/race specific meditation routine?
I have no pre-race-ritual. I just try to relax, and even if I have done many races I am still nervous before a race. I do things to help keep me calm, I try to be rational and tell myself: Enzo, be quiet, it is a triathlon race you don’t have to decide on the future of the world! You’ve done this, so many times and you know what you expect...Above all, you know, you will have a huge beer after the race! Just give it your best shot and you will reach your goal!
How do you spend your off-season? Are there sports that you enjoy doing that you feel compliment triathlon
In the offseason, I completely give up the road bike and I am dedicated to MTB. Usually, I run on the track and sometimes I run on the trails. My favourite place for running is the forest because it relaxes me a lot and I don’t care about time.
What is your favourite race and why?
My favourite race is the Kona Ironman to which I have participated 3 times. It has a charm that overwhelms me. In that week you live and breathe triathlon. And the day of the race...well, I just let you imagine what you feel when you cut the finishing line. In 2018 I will be attending Roth…. someone said that it is a very unique race. Let’s see if it will be the one.
Share with us any unexpected/funny events that happened during racing or training?
I have so many fun stories that I can write a book! The epic one happened a few years ago. It was in the summer with a lot of people around sitting and drinking aperitifs, and I was so thirsty that I decided to stop and have a drink at the bar. I arrived with an amazing bike and an impeccable look, everyone turns to look at me and just in that moment I forgot to unhook the pedals and I fell on a plant…
What are your next goals?
In 2018 my next goal will be: opening the season in Sardinia with 70.3 of Chia (a spectacular race). Then probably 70.3 Rimini and in July Roth. I am not sure but probably I will make Ironman Italy in September (and who knows I will make the qualification for Kona 2019).
Anything else that you would like to share with athletes out there?
It can make me quite unpopular at times, but I do like to say what I think and not what people like to hear. What I would like to advise age groupers reading this article is this: it's ok to be extremely ambitious but don’t take yourself too seriously. Triathlon is and must be a fun activity. If it takes over your family and work commitments, it is wrong. Give yourself an important goal but achievable at the same time. Unfortunately, just training is not enough, you need to have the natural skills to achieve certain results and not everyone is so lucky to have them. I have seen so many people alienate their life for chasing a dream that it is rationally too distant. One thing is certain, however, your limit is higher than what you think. Do your best to reach it.
I've raced Kona 3 times (2014,2015,2017). In 2014 I was the first Italian to reach the finishing line. I had my best time at Kona 9h 31’(145overall). My best personal time was IM Vichy 2016 9h07’. In 2019 at Roth I would like to break down the 9h wall.
You can follow Enzo on twitter @bergi33