David McNamee admits Kona is what he trains for all year, and the IRONMAN World Championship has had a dominant effect in defining him over the last five years.
The Scot, now based in Spain, is Britain’s best male full-distance triathlete and proved it with two fantastic third-placed finishes in Hawaii in 2017 and 2018. On the latter occasion he finished in 8:01:09, the fastest time ever by a British athlete.
Everything had looked set fair for a McNamee victory bid in Kona in 2019, but a DNF ended what was a frustrating year for the man who now lives in Girona. In an Instagram post summing up lessons learned from the year, he started simply with: “If you become complacent prepare to get your ass kicked”.
David says he first found triathlon because he was a “bored swimmer who always loved to go for a run”. He grew up worshipping swimming legend Ian Thorpe, but now his hero is fellow Scot and Olympic cycling great Sir Chris Hoy.
While Spain is now very much home (though David admits trying to impress his girlfriend’s family by speaking Catalan can backfire), he still can’t live without his porridge...
McNamee admits he is probably most proud of Kona 2017 but most embarrassed by 2019, and says the thing that that scares him most is wasting chances.
Triathlon is pretty good at dishing out physical pain and David’s toughest moment in that area came at the World U23 Championships in Beijing in 2011. Though it did have the most silver of linings.
“I got dropped three times on the final run lap by the front group and somehow managed to find my way back. I won the silver medal and spent the next five days completely exhausted.”
McNamee, who says we need to wait 10 years before asking about his legacy, is driven by the desire for constant improvement and sees Germany as his biggest rival (“they always win Kona”).
In terms of the triathlon discplines, David tells us: “Running is my favourite as you can do it anywhere in the world and it’s a great way to see new places.
“After 24 years in a pool I have a love/hate relationship with following the black line.”