Marina Jurjevic stepped up to the Ironman plate in December 2011 at Ironman Western Australia, or as we all like to call it… BUSSO! It was her first ever Ironman, and just over 10hrs later, she knew she was going to be going to Kona. We caught up with her just before she backed up and raced exceptionally well again at the Ironman Asia/Pacific Championships.

Full Name: Marina Jurjevic
Nickname: Maz
Age: 30
Qualifying race and times: IM Busselton 2011 – 10:19:18
(S 1:16:16; B 5:18:11; R 3:38:24)
Coach/Club: Tri-Alliance headed by Ollie Allan

You qualified for Kona in your very first Ironman. Was this a complete shock? Or were you gunning for a spot?
I’m not going to lie…I knew what I was capable of and I had looked at the past couple of year’s results and number of slots for my age group to see where I needed to be. I knew I’d be close but you never know who will be racing on the day so I was gunning for a spot but still shocked to actually go one better and win my age group too.

How long have you been involved in triathlons?
I actually completed my first tri back in Feb 2007 in Elwood – the Brooks mini tri as part of the Supersprint Gatorade series – a 200m swim, 10k ride and 3k run. I decided to give it a go when I decided I needed to get to Hawaii one day. I became more serious end of 2010 when I finally set myself the goal of an Ironman in 2011 and so joined a tri club to help get me there.

What is your sporting background?
I’ve always been an all rounder but soccer (both indoor and outdoor) was the main sport I played growing up and I’ve always enjoyed running. I wish I was a swimmer growing up as that is my weakness.

What are your training plans in the lead up to Kona? Will you be incorporating anything drastically different considering you’re going from Melbourne’s winter to, well… KONA?
I plan to take it easy in April after IM Melbourne and then get straight back into it and start the build again in May. I won’t do anything drastically different but will definitely follow the advice of a World Champion and visit the sauna a few times a week in the couple of months leading up to Kona. I will also clock up some more hours in the pool as I really want to take my swimming to the next level.

Will you be racing between now and Kona? Cairns or Yeppoon perhaps?
I raced Cairns Half last year and am sad I won’t be able to do it this year…I feel it’s a little far out from Kona to be of huge benefit and too soon after I get back into training for me to be competitive. I am still considering Yeppoon as a lead up race though. I might throw in a couple of half marathons and possibly even a marathon (maybe Gold Coast) just for good measure.

Your partner is in triathlon as well. How important to you is it that he is also involved in the sport?
We actually met through our Tri Club so that was handy. In hindsight it’s actually been really important to have him involved in the sport also…especially in Ironman. When you work a full time job and need to fit in the volume that Ironman training demands, you either need someone very supportive or somebody that is out there with you for all those hours. It’s actually been good to have that extra motivation too. When one of you, or both, feel like skipping a session, you often talk each other out of it and then you feel great that you ended up training.

Who are the people you look up to within the sport?
I definitely can’t go passed Chrissie Wellington. She is a true inspiration. Her win at Kona in 2011 was a great moment especially knowing she had a bad lead up with a bike crash a couple of weeks before. To have a chick up there with the guys is awesome. I also have to mention Aussies Craig Alexander and Mirinda Carfrae. Both have had huge achievements in Ironman. I look forward to seeing Rinny take it to the next level especially with Wellington absent for 2012. She’s set to have a huge year!

Who are the people you look up to outside of the sport?
It may sound clichéd, but I have to say my mum. Here I am a 30 year old pursuing my dreams and competing in Ironman Triathlon without a care in the world. My mum was a 30 year old with 7 children to look after (she added another 4). She never complained that she couldn’t go out and do the things that she wanted to do. We may not have had the opportunities that other kids had because there was so many of us, but she raised us well and continues to be a source of sound advice and encouragement. I hope she can make the trip up to Kona to see what the big fuss is about.

What are you most looking forward to about the Hawaiian Champs?
It’s the Ironman World Championships…need I say more?? To be racing with not only the best Elite athletes in the world but also the best age group athletes from around the world is an absolute honour and privilege. It is the culmination of all Ironman races. It’s going to be amazing!

What is the most daunting part of going to the big dance in Kona?
I think the most daunting part is not knowing what to expect. You see the footage but unless you are actually there and racing it is hard to know how physically and mentally demanding the race will actually be. I just hope that the weather Gods will be kind.

A week after your race, you’re sipping on cocktails, and enjoying some down time. How do you hope to reflect on the event?
For the record, they’ll be mocktails. I guess a week after the race I’m hoping to be reflecting on the event knowing I gave it absolutely everything. I want to be able to say that I put in the hard yards in training and prepared myself both physically and mentally as well as I possibly could to bring my A-game to the Big Island. I’m very competitive and I know that I won’t be happy unless I’ve given it my all and know that I left no stone unturned both in the lead up and on race day.

What’s your favourite training session and why?
During the winter months, our Thursday night interval run sessions were at the Tan. We’d start at MSAC and run to the Tan as our warm up. Sessions would vary each week but the main set would include repeats ranging from up to 3km down to 250m at T4-T5 effort. We visited Anderson Street hill often and would feel absolutely wiped by the end. And of course we’d have to run back to MSAC as the cool down. At our peak, the sessions would get up to 20km. A tough session but often rewarded with a Parma at the pub afterwards

What do you do for work? And do you have any tips/tricks for how you fit in your training around full time work? I work a regular 9-5 job. I’m a management accountant…so I crunch numbers a lot…and yes, it flows through to racing. I struggle with mornings (I’ll need to change that for Kona) so it’s all about nailing the weekends with long rides and runs and getting the other sessions in after work. I try not to be too hard on myself if I need to miss a session. We all have bad days so I make the most of the good ones.

What are your future plans for triathlon?
First step is to get in the best shape of my life for Kona this year and have a great race (shooting for sub 10)…and it’s crazy, but I would one day love to race professionally. I have a lot of work to do to get there but I know if I put in the time and effort then anything is possible. To rub shoulders with the best in the world, and make a living doing something I have fallen in love with, would be amazing!!

If you could give one piece of advice for people training for their first ironman, what would that be?
Train within your capabilities and always listen to your body. Don’t get caught up in doing every session exactly as your program reads. Be prepared to adjust and skip sessions if necessary according to how you are feeling and where you are at. Getting to the start line is the hardest part so you need to give yourself the best opportunity to get there.

About The Author

Stef Hanson. Chief.

Chief and founder of WITSUP

Serious about what I do, but don’t take myself too seriously

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4 Responses

  1. Caroline

    What an inspiration Marina..both a solid competitor and athlete. I hope you get your dream realised with sponsorship support to do this full time and really have a strong crack at being the best of the best!

  2. Bernadette Shanahan

    Great interview Marina – can’t wait to see you racing Kona! x

  3. Heather Frajsman

    I have heard so much about you from Robert. You are an inspiration to me and all women. Your efforts encourage me to train hard to do Gatorade this year together with my hubby. I hope you achieve your goal at Kona!!! All the best luck and training!


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