The Hawaiian Ironman is in Craig Alexander’s rear-view mirror but the competitive fire still burns bright in one of triathlon’s all-time greats.
Alexander is one of the men to beat on Sunday at the Ironman Asia-Pacific championships in Melbourne.
But the Australian confirmed on Friday that last year’s 23rd placing at Hawaii, his worst result there, will be the last time the three-time winner races at the iconic Ironman world championships.
A few weeks ago he publicly toyed with the idea of passing on this October’s edition and returning next year.
But as he approaches his 41st birthday, Alexander has decided his Kona time is up.
“To be honest, when I said last year I didn’t think I’d be back in Kona, I meant it and I still feel that way,” Alexander said.
“I know what it takes to prepare for that race and I don’t think I can commit the time or energy any more.
“Also, if I’m honest, I probably haven’t for the last couple of years.”
Sunday’s race features the same distances as the Hawaiian Ironman, where Alexander is one of only four men to win three or more titles.
In the inaugural Melbourne race two years ago, Alexander produced one of the best performances of his stellar career to break Ironman’s eight-hour barrier with 7:57.
Last year he finished third behind Spaniard Eneko Llanos and Belgian Marino Vanhoenacker.
A month ago, Alexander showed his build-up for the Asia-Pacific race was tracking well when he dominated the Geelong 70.3, or half-Ironman.
Unlike many of his rivals, who need a big result on Sunday to gain precious qualifying points for Hawaii, Alexander also has no pressure on him.
He has nothing left to prove.
After he goes to the United States in May to fulfil sponsorship commitments, Alexander’s race plans are up to him.
“I still think I can race at a high level – a very high level,” he said.
“I don’t really feel I have to write a 12-month schedule, for anyone.
“I feel I still have something left in the tank, provided I can manage my time and train the way I like to train – absolutely.”
A strong field for Sunday’s race also features Vanhoenacker and Australian Luke McKenzie, who Alexander has become a mentor to.
McKenzie’s second placing last October at Hawaii was a breakthrough result.
The women’s field is headed by Swiss Caroline Steffen, the 2012 winner, Australian Rebekah Keat and pint-sized American star Mary Beth Ellis.