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IRONMAN Western Australia

IRONMAN Western Australia

12th Jan 2024

Some will bounce over the finish line with a smile, others will stumble and a few will crawl over that famous carpet that adorns the finishing chute. The potion of both ecstasy and relief is palpable in the air. Happiness, pride, and that healthy dose of relief are the main emotions that take place in the final meters of an Ironman triathlon.

For many, the finish line marks the end of a journey. A journey that has seen them overcome adversity, get through those countless early morning sessions, and invest both their time and money into a new blood, sweat and tears are all part of the Ironman process.

“A day reflecting fifteen years of persistence yet still with challenging moments, just like those past fifteen years.”
— Matt Burton

Brutal Affair

3.9km Swim. 180.2km Bike. 42.2km Run.

You’ll cover a total of 226.3km across all three disciplines.

The Ironman distance is revered and feared across the world. It is often quoted as one of the hardest sporting challenges in the world. The fastest in history is at the lower end of the seven-hour mark. The average athlete finishes an Ironman in some twelve and a half hours. For many, attempting an Ironman is the ultimate fitness challenge, maybe it’s something that started as a joke in the pub, or a New Year’s Resolution that got a little too serious.

Few can dream of winning one.

Image by: @koruptvision

Ironman Western Australia takes place in Busselton, a relatively small city on the southwest tip of Western Australia. Famed for its sheltered beaches and seasonal humpback populations, for one weekend a year Ironman athletes flock there.

For Matt Burton, the “Busso” course is one he is very familiar with after winning here back in 2021. The course is famed for being fast, but that’s something that brings its own particular challenges.

Matt explains:

“Busso’s flat nature draws this “fast” appeal, yet many have been left wondering here. The constant power output, cadence and position required on the bike wears down the body in a different state. You don’t seem to have that same freedom when you step off to run. The run course is as exposed as any in the world, so we were fortunate for patches of cloud cover as the heat can be the turning point over in the west.
For me it’s home. From a young age, it was our family holiday destination and now it’s the start of my triathlon journey. The local support and crowds bring an amazing feel to the events as the layout of the run course captures the Busselton foreshore vibe perfectly.”
— Matt Burton

The Swim

“The swim was as comfortable as I have felt in the water. This has been a big focus of mine this year even though stroke corrections take time to come into real effect, the increase in training volume aided exactly as I hoped it would. I did still leave the water 4mins+ back though I was in the chase pack so it’s either swim solo, or swim relaxed and conserved.”
— Matt Burton

The Bike

“It took time. I struggled to find my pedal stroke for the first 90km. Even though I completed the first of two laps in under 1 hour 58 minutes, I really had to hang tough in the hope I’d nurse myself through it. Entering the 2nd lap I felt the training come to fruition, being able to ride consistently strong in an Ironman always sees you take significant time back late. Entering T2 in the first place was nice, and it was the first sub-four-hour ride for me too!”
— Matt Burton

The Run

“The run is all about patience. I had planned my effort so after 5km when Daniel Baekkegard [eventual winner] came past me I opted to let him go as I felt the pace he was pushing could have gone either way for him. Credit to him though, he dropped the run course record by four minutes. I felt I had great turnover though reacting to his early pace wasn’t a card I wanted to play having seen so many ambitious run efforts ruined in the back half of this course.”
— Matt Burton

Image by: @koruptvision

Before this weekend, the course record in Busselton stood at 7:45. Throughout all of his prep, Matt was targeting to finish around the 7:40 mark. A feat that would’ve seen him significantly lower the record

“This training build-up was as specific as I have ever been. Working to ensure I was healthy was the biggest focus. Big training weeks are necessary in Ironman, and reaching a good level throughout these is just as important. Simply being healthy with a great range of movement is key to performing and absorbing.
I strung a number of three to four-week phases at 38-42hrs per week. The duration was well distributed across the disciplines with specificity being the key to main sessions targeted at going ~7.40.”
— Matt Burton

Matt’s final time was 7:40:27. It was Daniel Baekkegard of Denmark who took the win, and the course record 07:34:22. Matt finished second overall, breaking the bike-leg course record, and the Australian National Ironman Record to boot.

“You can prepare to go fast, but executing an effort on a given day requires patience. I’ve not had the results to reflect where I felt I was at leading into this event so it made the approach very personal. I was simply beaten by a better man on the day but satisfying to be in the race at this level.
You never really consider the final time until you hit the carpet. You don’t want to get carried away. We have seen so many athletes come unstuck in the final kilometres of these events so it wasn’t until I hit that carpet that I knew this day was a lot more than just second place. I am a big dreamer but this was beyond that.”
— Matt Burton

Image by: @koruptvision

Comeback King

Here at Sync, we often talk about the importance of comfort. “Improving the human-bike interaction” is our motto, and the backbone of everything that we do.

When we first met Matt in 2019, he was dealing with long term physical issues. While his physical issues weren’t necessary unique, and something that we see relatively often in both the triathletes and cyclists that we work with, they were hindering him. To put it simply, they had to be fixed.

Along with Matt and his rehab team, we set about getting him fixed. A lot of the work came down to Matt himself keeping “the train on track” back home in Perth. Testiment to his hard work, Matt has now strung together two very well executed Bussleton results.

“Matt’s progression back to podium performance shows the ability of the human body to remodel, recover and adapt, when the right stimulus and rehabilitation strategy is applied.
IM triathlon is one of the most grueling endurance sports and for Matt to be able to achieve highly competitive performances in two editions of this event, is nothing short of inspirational.”
— Ken Ballhause

Image by: @koruptvision

Season 2024

Matt is making no secret of his target going forward: Kona 2024, the World Championships of Ironman.

Having punched his ticket through his ride in Busso, the biggest event in Ironman is what he has set his target on. It’s a race he has history with, after DNFing while on the bike leg in 2022.

“I made a meal of Kona in 2022, that’s important to correct. Looking shorter term I’ll race across Oceania to target specific conditioning. I may have gone fast in Busso, but it’s important to get faster.”
— Matt Burton

Image by: @koruptvision

You may also be interested in

To read more about Matt’s history in the sport, and to look into greater detail about the injury adversities he has had to overcome, check out this blog.


Images by: @koruptvision

About Adaptive HP

Ken Ballhause - Sports Scientist
B. Exercise & Sports Science
B. Health Science (Clinical Myotherapy)

Inspired by the application of exercise physiology and biomechanics, Ken’s keen interest in Sports Science lies in understanding the demands that competitive cyclists face and where improvements in performance can be made.

Ken’s background in cycling began with mountain bikes, racing downhill at both a State and National level. His interest in cycling is now focused on road and endurance track racing, coinciding with the diversity of options available locally in Melbourne.

AHP is the recognition of the role that a scientific approach has in improving the outcome of cycling, be it for health or performance. For Ken, AHP is the application of knowledge gained in both Exercise Science and Health Science degrees, mixed with a passion for the sport of cycling.

About the author

Joe Laverick’s cycling introduction was via the British time-trial scene, since starting the sport, he has been all about speed. He’s a freelance writer and privateer racer who mixes road, time trial and gravel racing. To this day, he remains one of the only riders on the planet to have beat Remco Evenepoel in a time trial.