I caught up with young Pro Michael Fox to ask a few questions so we can get to know him better. Foxy and Alex Reithmeier (Alex’s bio will be up in a few days) are Transitions members and will be doing some stuff with us in the future to give us some insights into life, training and the Pro “lifestyle”.
Transitions: Who is Michael Fox?
Foxy: Im 26 years old and have been living in and around the Sutherland Shire for pretty much all my life. Currently still living with my parents they are my prime sponsors. (The glamorous life of a Triathlon Pro, huh! Ed.) I’ve got a girlfriend of 7 years now, we have an apartment but we are still living at home so we can afford to travel and do the stuff that we love to do at the moment. Mum and Dad are super supportive at the moment, luckily and are happy for us to chase the lifestyle for a bit longer.
Transitions: How did you come to Triathlon?
Foxy: It’s funny, I started out in Surf Lifesaving, I wasn’t the best swimmer, I was more known as a board paddler. One day at the Sydney Titles I was dared to do the 2k beach run, so I took the dare and happened to end up winning it. One of the run coaches suggested I keep going and try it at State level anyway I ended up winning the National Titles. So then it was suggested I should try Triathlons, I could swim and run all I needed to do was learn to ride a bike. I had a go at the Australian Aquathlon champs in Cronulla one year and met Pete Clifford from HPT and got into Triathlon from there and haven’t looked back since.
Transitions: Why did you decide to pursue being a Pro Triathlete?
Foxy: Good question, I did surf and was doing pretty well but was looking for a new challenge at the time anyway. Triathlon came along at the right time, starting out as an age grouper plodding about. This was when TA had the talent ID programme and since my swim and run times were pretty good they gave me a trial Pro license when I had only been riding a few months. They put me in the Australian Sprint Champs down in Tasmania. I came out of the water with the front pack thinking I had it pretty well covered, but on an 8 lap sprint course I think I was lapped by lap no 5 and they kicked me off the course. So I realised I had a bit of woirk to do.
They let me do a few more races then took the license back off me as I hadn’t progressed wnough to warrant keeping it which was fair enough. It was probably the best thing that could have happened because then I went back to age group, started getting more involved in “non-drafting” racing. Then after MoolooIaba I went over to the states to have a go at a few ITU races and dipped my toe in the 5150 races while I was there, I was only on a roadie and everyone else had TT bikes so I completely sucked but I really enjoyed it and decided when I went back that I was going to focus on non-drafting. Being a Pro has kinda just developed through that, I took a small step in and realised I liked it but had a lot to do and just kept going from there.
Transitions: So what does “Pro” mean in terms of work etc?
Foxy: I definitely varies. A few years ago I was probably doing less work. Last year I took on a full time job, thought I could do everything and apart from a podium at Melbourne early in the year I think my results suffered a bit, as my full time contract started the week after Melbourne.
This year I am working part time which is fantastic, doing casual teaching and I’m trying to keep it at 3 days a week, maybe squeeze in 4 while we are saving to go away to Europe. Once in Europe I will be full time training, but at the moment I’m doing part time to pay the bills and be able to do all the things we like to do. You do get a bit of money from racing, but the way I look at it these days is if I can pay for my race weekend with the money I win then that’s a pretty good start, you aren’t really getting ahead, but for me it’s an indicator if the race has been worthwhile.
Transitions: What are your best results so far?
Foxy: Best result would have to be 3rd in the half at Challenge Melbourne, that was my first pro podium. I got 3rd at the inaugural Mornington Peninsula Tri as well. Racing in the US and qualifying for HyVee was a pretty big achievement, going to such a big race on such a big stage where everything is done for you and you are looked after and in a race where even if you finished last you were guaranteed to get some winnings. Once you qualified you felt like you were a valued athlete, and it was an eye opener as well. Being my biggest race so far and lining up against Gomez and Brownlee and others we only see on TV. I was on the run part way through running side by side with Macca and there the crowds love him and are cheering for him and to amongst that was almost surreal compared to what we are normally used to. They are definitely some of the highlights.
Transitions: Upcoming races?
Foxy: I’m heading off to Europe on the 4th June. Starting in the UK doing Staffordshire 70.3. Then heading off to Germany to do the half at Challenge Heilbronn, then heading over to France where I will be based for a couple of months. I’ll be in Annecy, my girlfriend wants to do a bit of touring while we are there, and I’ll be doing lots of training seeing as I will be the one who has to try and earn a living for one considering she is the one that usually does. Then I’ll be racing in Poland in July, then one in Germany, then one in Austria in August. All up I will be looking at 5 halves while I’m there for 3 and a half months. Busy time but should be fun.
Transitions: Long term goals?
Foxy: Long term I’d like to be top three in world 70.3 and like every triathlete I’d like to go to Kona as a pro. Of course I’d have to say I’d love to win Kona but that is a long way down the track, I’m only 26,most of those guys don’t peak till they are in their 30’s so I’ve got a bit of time to worry about that. But Id defiantly like to go there and experience it. Experiencing my first Ironman in Wanaka was a big deal I really enjoyed it but there is a lot to learn. It took a while to get used to the 70.3 distance and I assume Ironman is no different. There are plenty of things I can take away from that, nutrition, pacing… they are things you probably never get 100% right or at least take a long time to get 100% right depending on what else is happening around you.
Transitions: What is your strength?
Foxy: Coming from Surf, I’d probably say the swim. I don’t really have any swims that worry me. In the recent Challenge Melbourne when I saw the choppy conditions I thought “Sweet”, it gave me a bit of a buffer on some people I wanted to get away from. So that has been something that has been really good for me coming to Triathlon, at least with a good swim you are at the front of the race and then you can work to hang on. I see some runners come to the sport where if they ride too hard it wrecks their best leg so they need to get the other two legs better before they can unleash on the run. Fortunately being a swimmer I can get a bit of credibility by being at the front out of the water and then learn the other legs from there by surviving as long as possible and working to make those legs better.
Transitions: Any time for hobbies outside of Triathlon?
Foxy: I used to love surfing but I just don’t have the time now. I try and get in a surf when I can but yeah not much anymore.
Transitions: What is something unusual about you we should know?
Foxy: Well I knocked my front teeth out while drinking at the age of 18.
Transitions: Surf club related?
Foxy: Yeah it was New Year’s Eve and we were doing a Toga run and I tripped over a speed hump.
Transitions: Importantly who are your sponsors?
Foxy: I’ve been fortunate enough to have some great sponsors Token have been with me for a few years now and have been fantastic with wheels, Exterra look after me with wetsuits and Nimblewear came on board last year providing great race kit and apparel. More recently I have got the support of Pearl Izumi for footwear, Rudy Project and of course Endeavour Cycles has been helping me out a lot as well and of course the coaching team at HPT.
Foxys webpage: http://www.michaelfox.com.au
Images stolen from Foxys Facebook page.