Leap Day Sports - The Triathlife of Jesse Thomas

2018 Plan and Challenge Wanaka!

Hello Crazy Ass Fans!

It’s been a while and it’s time for an update. Like usual, I’m on a plane – this time to New Zealand for one of my long time bucket list races – Challenge Wanaka! More about that down there, but first, a few updates on the season.

My 2018 – No Kona!

After two years of focusing on the Ironman World Championship, I’ve decided to…not do that! Here’s why:

  1. Family – As you know, racing Kona isn’t just racing Kona – you have to qualify, which usually means at least one other Ironman and lots of 70.3s. Last year I chased points around the globe, and this year would be even worse given my finish at Kona last year. I have two #superadvanced kids now, a working wife, and a business with 10 employees! And even though racing is my income source, I’ve asked those people to sacrifice a lot as I qualified and prepped for Kona the last couple of years. At this point, it feels like a bit too much to ask to go through another year of it. There are lots of great events (below) that are amazing challenges and experiences that I believe will have less of an impact on family and biz. Plus, I have awesome sponsors, who support this decision, know that a good story is a good story regardless of where it happens. Thanks guys!
  2. Business – Speaking of biz, Picky is growing and it’s clearly well beyond a baby startup these days. We’re reaching our pimply adolescent phase, I find it harder and harder to be away from that awkward, voice changing but lovable company, not only because of the impact it has on the biz, but because I’m legitimately intrigued by the challenges it faces. Are we good enough to make it to the next level? I don’t know, but I want to have a bit more time to focus on it and hit those challenges head on with Lauren and my employees.
  3. It’s a big wide sport out there and I want to try some other stuff! – Like I said, I chased points the last few years (and honestly every year before that for 70.3 Worlds!). There are a ton of races I’ve skipped to make the most maximized points decision in the past, and I’m excited to try some of those out.

I don’t know if this means I’ll never do Kona again or not – if I had to wager, I’d say likely no (I’m not getting any younger!). Kona was never going to be the marquee event of my career, and up until 3 years ago I honestly never thought I’d do it at all! I feel super lucky to have qualified for that race both times I tried to. And while I don’t think I quite had the finish I am fully capable of, I am very proud of my results there, the blood sweat and tears that went into the process and on the day itself. That’s sport! Now I’m stoked to move on.

Instead – Cool Races in Cool Places!

So what does that mean for this year? Well, since I don’t have to qualify for a World Championship, I have ultimate flexibility. I’m going to take advantage of that flexibility and do some races I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the opportunity to, plus a few of my favorites from the past. I haven’t finalized my entire schedule yet, but my first few races will be:

  • Challenge Wanaka
  • Oceanside 70.3
  • Wildflower

Then I’ll head to Europe and bring the family for something super duper supremely awesome that’s a bucket list race that I can’t announce yet but it’s gonna be great. After that, we’ll see how I feel, how the family feels and how biz is doing! If you have any suggestions let me know!

Challenge Wanaka Preview

When: Saturday 8:15am local, (Friday 11:15am US Pacific)

How to follow:

Holy Cow This Place is Gorgeous

Challenge Wanaka bills itself as “the most scenic race in the world.” Honestly, I’ve raced all over the world and I can’t find fault in the billing. It took me almost 36 hours door to door to get here, but it’s been well worth the trip. The trail I ran on last night was beautiful, and the bike ride this morning was picturesque. I’m super stoked to take a tour of the area on Saturday, regardless of how it goes.

“Cool Races in Cool Places” is my 2018 plan – http://leapdaysports.com/2018/02/15/2018-plan-and-challenge-wanaka/. Even…

Posted by Jesse Thomas on Thursday, February 15, 2018

How I Feel – Like It’s February, I have a new baby, a new product line, and racing is going to be a bit of shock!

As stoked as I am to be here, there is part of me that feels a little silly flying all the way to New Zealand for a race right now. The original intention was that the entire family would come along and we’d make a winter vacation out of it. But with a last minute trip to Hawaii for the new year, the expense and time away from work didn’t seem to make sense. So here I am, flying to Wanaka, gonna race, ride and run around, and fly back home! Crazy!

I honestly feel unprepared to race – similar to Pucon last year in January. I think I’m in better shape than I was back then – I’ve had a few decent and semi surprising workouts. But my mind has clearly been focused on family and business since Kona. I’ve been trying to be as available as possible for Lauren/Zadie at nights (which means a lot of wakeups with the 4 mo old). I was tired enough from my normal lack of sleep routine that I actually slept a bit on the plane here, which I never do! I’ve also been traveling like crazy working on supply chain stuff for Picky Bars, and meeting with our customers and partners in the launch of Picky Oats. I can say that things are going well with family and business, but it’s been a bit of a circus the last few months and hasn’t allowed me time to think much about racing.

But I’m putting in the work – even if a little less consciously than normal. I think I’m actually finding a decent balance with it all right now, kind of in my groove splitting time fairly equitably across family, biz, and sport. As races heat up in the next month or two, I’ll pull away a bit from work, and hopefully try to get some more sleep with family! But I’ve got time to do that later.

The field in Wanaka looks nothing short of amazing – Javi Gomez, Luke Bell, Luke McKenzie, Braden Currie, Dougal Allan, Dylan McNeice – those are the guys I remember just off the top of my head! I have a feeling I’ll get my ass handed to me by the southern hemisphere boys, but like I said, all good. Just a fun February race for me to kick off the real season.

Thanks as always for reading! Let me know if you have any questions or comments! As always you can keep up to date on the daily on my instagram, strava, twitter, or facebook! See you guys on the other side! I’ll finish with a gratuitously cute kid pic!

5 comments to 2018 Plan and Challenge Wanaka!

  • Sergio

    Wise man!
    Allow me to sell Picky Oats/ products in Mexico?

  • Alicia

    Hope to meet you at Wildflower!

  • Facundo Será Castro

    Jesse! Come to Ironman Mar del Plata, Argentina, on december. Great city, tough course beside te beach and it will be South América Championship this year. Plus, you get to take a picture whit me, a crazy ass fan of you! What more?

  • Ivan Baelo Fernandez

    First of all! Thank you for such amazing post. Regarding to racing in different places, you should try to race in Zarautz, which is located in Spain(Vasc country). It is a doble Olympic distance. You start the swimming course in Getaria, a nearby village to Zarautz crossing 2800 meters in the Cantábric Sea. Along the whole race you will freaking out with the support, in the bikking course you have to climb the Aia wall and you will looks like a Tour the France pro. During the running course you will pass for some amazing places and the supported will give you a lot of strength. If you have more details you can ask Eneko Llanos.
    That is my suggestion of racing, I had done twice an it is unforgettable, for people like me racing that race it is like I were a pro.
    Best of luck in your life, I am from Spain and I really enjoy your website post, please keep doing it!

  • In Europe this summer you have to do Embrunman or Alpe d’Huez Triathlon. Two of the biggest “bucket list triathlon” in the world!! And you love mountains so let’s do this!

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