It takes a village to raise a triathlete – from age group to professional will have an army of people supporting them through their journey. And in most cases, it’s your family and close friends who do the heavy lifting. Don’t you always wish that you could get them hooked on to triathlons as well – your kids, your spouse, your friends? Today we get a chance to meet the power horse of one such incredible family which Tris together – Rudy Von Berg!
Outside of World Championship at KONA, the only other event which saw such a powerful field of pros battle it out was the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship at Nice, France. Packed with the best, it was hard to put your money on who will take the title. For me the moment that stood out the most during the championship was when Rudy Von Berg made a break away past Alistair Brownlee at 61 kmphr in the technical hills of Nice at the 40 kms mark. After a battle royale on the play field, Rudy finally went on to take the 3rd podium spot at the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. This race was special for Rudy – from 10th position at the 2018 WC in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and 13th position at 2017 70.3 WC at Chattanooga Tennessee, he was now reaping the benefits of the long hours of consistent hard work. What also made the race special was the fact that not many people are aware of – his family was also at the WC; not just to support him, but also to race as age group athletes!
Olympia Von Berg raced in AG 25-29 category after winning IM 70.3 Los Cabos 2018. Maximilien Von Berg was competing in AG 30-34 after securing his slot at IM 70.3 Madison by placing 6th. And none other than his father, the legendary Rodolphe Von Berg Sr. racing in AG 60-64 to retain his title. For those who are not aware, he has been a triathlete since the inception of the sport in early 80s and has 1986 USAT Ironman Champion title and 9 AG World Championship titles under his belt.
Some excerpts from our conversation with the talented Rudy Von Berg at the end of tri season in 2019:
Sidd: It has been a while, but how did it feel to get on that podium at 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 WORLD Championship in a power packed field and specially in your home town?
Rudy: It’s been a race I have been thinking about for a long time, and it is my goal to be the best or at least one of the best athletes in the world, so that was my race to prove it, and get closer to the highest level in the sport. Considering that, I was very pleased to get on the podium of a World Championship, and prove my value at the highest level. On top of that, I grew up not very close to Nice, and it was a bit of a hometown race for me, which was really great. For once, we had a very hilly and technical bike course which rewards well rounded athletes and people who know how to handle their bike, and I was glad to show my skills and power with the fastest bike split of the day.
Sidd: From 13th at 2017 in IM 70.3 WC at Chattanooga Tennessee to 10th in IM 70.3 WC at Port Elizabeth, South Africa, you have significantly amped your game to the 3rd spot in 2019. What has been the key focus of your training approach with coach Luc during this journey to keep coming back stronger every year? And specially on the bike – your performance on the bike has seen a consistent improvement during the course of races you have been at during the last two years.
Rudy: Luc has really helped me up my game as you say, and the answer to the how is periodization and not training too hard. I do little intensity and a lot of base miles. We are building throughout the years, so he is not pushing me too much now, to make sure I will have my best performances in the years to come, when it will really count, in Kona for example.
Sidd: Since the IM 70.3 World Championship, you you went on to earn 2nd spot at IM 70.3 Cozumel and close the season with a victory at IM 70.3 South American Championship in Beunos Aires with your fastest run split of 1:10:41. What were your key takeaways from the current season and what is your focus for 2020 including the race calendar?
Rudy: I’ve had a great season and I was never off the podium. That is a combination of good mechanical luck, a strong mental state, and good coaching. I feel like mentally I have really upped my game, and I am always ready for whatever can happen to me race day. Also, my coach Luc always makes sure the training load and intensity is adequate for race day so I always feel rested and ready to race. For 2020, the focus will be again on the most competitive 70.3 races in the world, before probably doing my first Ironman in 2021. I was very happy to finally run a 1h10 off the bike in Buenos Aires, which has been a goal of mine for 2 years. For 2020, I will have to run at least at 70.3 Worlds to be able to contend for one of the top positions.
Sidd: Not many people are aware that your father Rodolphe had an Ironman career spanning over 4 decades and raced his first Ironman WC at KONA in the 1980s. Tell us more about your visit to Kona in 1998 where he won in 40-44 AG and how has his presence inspired and enabled you chalk out a path to become a professional triathlete?
Rudy: Yes I was 5 years old my first time in Kona in 1998, and I think that really shaped my passion for the sport and pushing your limits at a young age. My dad won his Age Group that year, and he really taught me to do things at the best of your ability if you are going to do them, he wasn’t into “just” finishing the Ironman, however admirable that can already be. After that, I’ve done 3 more visits to Kona, that kept my dream alive to one day win that race.
Sidd: If there is workout / set which you would name after yourself, what would it be?
Rudy: I don’t do anything crazy or special in training, the key to being a good Professional is consistency and drive. I get my workouts done whatever the conditions, so you could say that harsh condition workouts could be named after myself. But a lot of athletes get their training done no matter what.
Sidd: If you could give 3 pieces of advice to aspiring age groupers to become better at their game, what would those be?
Rudy: The main thing is to not overdo it. Consistency is king, without being a hero in workouts. Respect your paces, don’t go too fast, don’t race in training, put your ego back in your pocket and take it back out on race day. It might not always be the most fun to do that, because it’s fun to race sometimes with your training partners, or to beat your own time, but if you want to race at your best on race day, respect your process and treat it as a journey, No one workout will make you better, it’s always a month, 2 months, 3 months of consistent work that will make you significantly better.
Couldn’t agree less with Rudy on that one – respect the advised pace for the workout and be consistent! Something a lot of recreational athletes juggling multiple responsibilities while training tend to underestimate. You can follow Rudy Von Berg on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated on how his 2020 season unfolds!