Ain Alar Juhanson Interview

Ain-Alar Juhanson


Ain-Alar is from Estonia and is a former Professional Long Distance Triathlete. He was known for having the strongest bike leg in Triathlon Races and won Ironman New Zealand and Lanzarote twice. He is a tall guy and proved to lots of the people in the world, that Triathlon is a sport for all sizes.

Estonia is a beautiful country and it is not as far away as people think! It is a short flight with a 2hour time difference and is worth the visit. The country is so green, so many trees per square mile! With all the open space you can see why the Estonian’s are such great athletes, especially in Ski Biathlon (National Sport).

Ain-Alar known as the friendly giant now puts on races in Estonia and encourages others to come and race in a beautiful and friendly country.


Name: Ain Alar

Age: 36 Ain-Alar Juhanson

Occupation: Race Organiser

Favourite Events:

IM Lanzarote is definitely my favourite race, with 2 wins and a 3rd place it was my most successful race. Lanzarote is like a home from home for me. I did lots of my training on the island when I had to escape the snow during the Estonian winter. It is a great place to race.

How did you first become in interested in athletics?

My family got me involved in sport from the age of 5. I followed my dad into skiing and wanted to be like him.  At the age of 7 I decided I wanted to be World Ski Champion like Gunde Svan (Swedish Skier). Sport has always been part of my life. My brother started Triathlon so I wanted to join in with him, and of course beat him! 

What is your best performance to date? 

For me my win at IM New Zealand in 2006. They cancelled the swim due to the weather conditions, which was slightly frustrating as I was in the best shape I had ever been in, and improved my swimming! The race was a 90km Bike and 22km Run, in a time trial format. The race went so smoothly, I just felt awesome and it was great to win.

What is your most important training session?

In 1999. I started my winter training running with a top Estonian female Marathon Runner. I didn’t believe I could run fast being so tall. They trained together for a full week winter and were running at 4mins per km pace in the winter in Estonia. I began to believe it was possible to run. The week running long in the snow was the best training I did that gave me results and confidence.

What is the most impressive/craziest training session you have ever known somebody complete?

In 2008 before I did the fastest bike split in the Hawaii Ironman, I was in Arizona and I did a 7.5hrs Bike, 248km, followed by a fast run on treadmill for 40mins. I then had a rest and swam a1.5hr swim set. This gave me huge confidence and great feeling for the race up and coming. In terms of other people Thomas Hellriegel is renowned for crazy sessions, there are too many to list. Then you hear of the training sessions Brett Sutton’s squad do.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

I have a new career, still in sport but no longer competing as a professional. My goal is to stop pushing away sport as I have no Ain-Alar Juhansontime. I want to find a balance between my family, my work and be able to do sport. I believe this will come with some hard choices, but I know it can be done, but I am a long way from this at the moment. It is important to value everything in right proportions.

What is the most memorable athletics event you have ever watched? 

Andrus Veerpalu at the 2006 Olympic games in Salt Lake City when he won his second Olympic gold in the 15km Cross Country Skiing Event. He was my former classmate in Otepää ski school (where we lived) and he inspired me to become a triathlete. He did lots of triathlon races in the summer and then skied in the winter. So I started to do the same and moved into just Triathlon racing.

Which athlete do you most admire? 

There are so many incredible athletes, but I will stick to triathlon and for me Craig Alexander sticks out above the rest. His approach to sport is silent. He has quietly gone about his triathlon training and racing and was just racing and very quiet. I believe he is the smarted and most calculating of triathletes. He is constantly thinking and working out splits and time sections during training and racing. He really thought hard about what he had to do to win.  He won the World IM championships in Hawaii and surprised everyone. He has been known to have a weak bike, but he won with a strong bike. He is the most complete athlete in my eyes.

Where is your favourite venue that you have competed at? 

Challenge Roth is the most incredible venue to race. The course is fast and smooth roads, the organization is fantastic, the spectators are amazing, lining the sides of the roads. It makes you feel like a gladiator and you have to perform for the people. I know it is a race, but it feels like a big show, and you have to perform and compete and this makes it special.

What is your favourite:

Book: View from Top by Sir Edmund Hillary (first conqueror of Mt Everest)

Film: As a child a film named Estonia. The film I can watch more than once is Old Times Best.

TV Show: Discovery Channel 

Shameless Plug – Is there anything going on in your life at the moment that you would like to mention? 

I have set up a triathlon club in Estonia called Tri Smile and this is growing more and more. I now have two races in Estonia. Tartu Ain-Alar Juhanson Olympic Distance Race for age groups and is now also an ETU race for the elites. The second race is Tri Star Estonia (1km swim, 100km bike, 10km run) a fantastic race, amazing course and great party and atmosphere. I hope you came to visit me at the Triathlon Show to find out more.

Question from previous person to complete Q&A (Stephan Vuckovic) Did you have time in the last weeks to think, what you are doing now and is what you want to do in life?

This is quite appropriate for me and is a question I am constantly asking myself. I finished sport and now building my next career. I am trying to figure out what makes me get up in the morning like professional racing did. I want to enjoy what I do and to find the right choice for my family and myself. This is tough and I question it everyday.

What question would you like to ask our next athlete to complete our Q&A?

Why are you doing it?

If your next race had to be in fancy dress what outfit would you choose? 

I think it would have to be in a plain kit that has some note to 100k+. I want to show like I did in professional racing that you can do triathlon no matter how big or small.


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Posted Date: 10th Apr 2013