30 May Staying Vertical with Paul “Barny” Matthews
On Wednesday, May 3rd, Paul “Barny” Matthews visited High Five Events’ HQ to chat with William Dyson. The Australian native arrived with Hillary, his amazing wife, Emerson, his energetic daughter, and a bag of Austin staples, breakfast tacos. Barny is a world-class triathlete who recently moved to Austin with his family and competed in The Rookie Triathlon on May 7th. In this installment of Staying Vertical everything was discussed, including his growing family, his coaching endeavors, and what would happen if he was on a cross-country trip and his right blinker went out.
William Dyson – Welcome to Austin! What made you and your family move here?
Barny – Hillary grew up in Buda and attended The University of Texas. Her family is a short drive away. The family attraction was huge. It helps to have them close because they can watch Emerson if needed. And Austin is Austin. When we found our house it checked all the boxes for us: location, trails, swimming, etc. We love it here.
WD – Tell me about your family.
Barny – Hillary and I met in 2011 and we’ve been going strong ever since. Emerson is growing like crazy and we have another child on the way (about seven weeks away!). We won’t know the gender until the baby arrives. We also have a 14-year-old black Lab. Like I said earlier, Hillary’s family is here. My mom and dad are back in Australia. My sister is in London. My family has been supportive of me my entire career and that means the world to me.
WD – According to the internet, you’re from Australia, grew up in a barn, and you love Dragons. Can you confirm or deny the rumors and explain the origins of Barny?
Barny – I can confirm that I’m from Australia, Murwillumbah to be exact, which is 20 minutes south of the Gold Coast. I did not grow up in a barn. When I was on the Australian junior team my teammates all assumed that anyone who’s from the country must live in a barn. And the name Barny was born and has stuck ever since. I can also confirm that I love the St. George Illawarra Dragons. They’re an Australian rugby team that competes in the National Rugby League. My dad was a teacher and at one time taught one of their players, Scott Gourley. We were visiting the team, I must’e been nine years old, and Scott’s dad gave me a team’s poster. I’ve been a fan ever since.
WD – You’re a tremendously accomplished professional triathlete. What are you trying to accomplish by competing in the Rookie Tri?
Barny – Originally I wasn’t going to do it. I wanted to hand out flyers to participants and talk to them about my coaching venture. I have a wealth of information that I want to share and coaching is a great avenue to accomplish that. Jack (Murray) called and said why don’t you do Rookie Tri? He mentioned how it’d help promote my coaching even more. Back in Australia, I grew up doing events whenever I could, especially sprints like this. It feels good to get back to your roots.
WD – After the Rookie Tri, what race is next on your spring calendar?
Barny – Nothing is set in stone right now. There are too many variables with coaching and our second child on the way. We’ll work that out when it comes. [UPDATE: Barny competed in the IRONMAN South American Championship in Florianopolis, Brazil on Saturday, May 28th, and had to drop out during the run after complications from a jellyfish sting during the swim.]
WD – How do you want people to remember you?
Barny – I want to be remembered for always giving my all. I want other athletes to see my name on the sheet and think, damn, this is going to be a helluva race.
WD – How do you go about selecting the races in which you’ll compete?
Barny – Financial costs play a huge role in selecting the races in which I’ll compete. If I place top three I get bonuses from my sponsors. Competition and location are factors as well. If I’m traveling, homestays are a huge benefit, specifically in Vineman and Huntsville, Ontario. I selected my recent Texas races because I could drive to them. And the hometown crowd always helps. My IRONMAN debut was at the 2012 Asia-Pacific Championship (in Melbourne). At the time, I ran the second fastest debut time ever, finishing 6th in 8:05:58.
WD – You had your fastest IRONMAN time at the 2014 IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship in Melbourne with a finishing time of 8:02:14. Was that due to competing in your own backyard or the Jack and Adam’s tri top you were wearing?
Barny – The hometown crowd is always a huge boost, but it was definitely the Jack and Adams tri top. I took a break in 2013. Craig “Crowie” Alexander, a good friend of mine and one of the best triathletes in the world, coached me from end of 2013 to my 8:02 time in 2014. Having Crowie coach me helped out tremendously as well.
Barny – I wanted to use both of them as training runs. I completed a hard block the day before and wanted to see what I could do the following day. If I’m going to participate in something then I’m going to give my all. It’s how I’ve trained for 20+ years.
WD – You’ve made the move to coaching. How is that coming along for you?
Barny – I launched everything a few months ago. Even though I just got started, everything is coming along nicely. We’re getting the word out on social media, talking with folks around town, continuing to train with groups around town. As with everything in life, we’re learning as we go and growing accordingly. I’m excited for this opportunity to share my wealth of knowledge with others.
WD – Is this a transition from competing professionally?
Barny – At the moment I want to mix the two, but I’ll eventually coach full-time. I’ve been doing the sport for so long and I have knowledge to share that I’ve learned from other world-class athletes and top-notch coaches that it makes sense for me to share all of that. I’ve trained under some of the best coaches and with some of the best guys, Brett Sutton, Craig Walton, Craig “Crowie” Alexander, Emma Snowsill, Bevan Docherty, just to name a few.
WD – What are your goals as a coach? Do you want to coach the next batch of professionals? Or do you want to help those that you coach be the best they can be?
Barny – I would love to stay in the professional scene somehow. I still want to win races and be a part of that environment. But coaching either end of the spectrum is just as appealing. The excitement of finishing your first IRONMAN is overwhelming and I want to help others achieve that feeling.
WD – As a father and a husband, how do you balance training and competing as a professional?
Barny – Emerson’s first year was really tough. Hillary was working full-time and I would look after Emerson. I’d get up at 4:20, swim for 30 minutes, and get on the trainer (bike). I’d knock out my swim and bike before 9 a.m. The first year was learning process for sure. The second year we had nanny who helped out two days a week. I wouldn’t change any of that for the world. I know my body, I know my training. It boils down to time management and being more efficient with my time. It helps to have an awesome family!
WD – What about coaching?
Barny – I’m definitely more prepared this go-round. It was also a part of the reason for moving to Austin. It really helps having Hillary’s family close by. They can swing by or I can drop off Emerson if needed. Once the kids start getting older they can come with!
WD – Do you see coaching as requiring less, more, or the same amount of your time time?
Barny – Every athlete is there own individual. One athlete might need minimum requirement, but another athlete might need to have more frequent interaction. It’s very dependent upon the athlete. When Crowie coached me he’d give me a four week block and I’d go off and complete it. I told him if he heard from me something bad must’ve happened.
WD – Swim, bike, run; you have to choose one.
Barny – Running, but it changes all the time.
WD – Favorite place to swim, bike, and run in Austin?
WD – Favorite non-swim, bike, run activity?
Barny – Family time at the park.
WD – How do you relax and unwind?
Barny – Watching sports, I’m also a Liverpool and Denver Broncos fan.
WD – Favorite in-race (training) hydration/nutrition.
Barny – CarboPro for both.
WD – Favorite Austin restaurant?
Barny – Salt Lick, Hilary worked there when she attended UT.
WD – Describe the perfect post-race meal (in Austin).
Barny – Two words: breakfast tacos.
WD – Morning or evening workouts (swim, bike, run)?
Barny – I’m a morning person, evenings are a struggle. I try to knock out everything in the morning.
WD – Solo or group workouts (swim, bike, run)?
Barny – Swim – depends on the group; bike – more enjoyable with group; run – group.
WD – Friends or family come to visit. What’s the first Austin thing y’all do?
Barny – We go to the Barton Springs pool and Salt Lick.
WD – If you and your family could go anywhere in the world for one month where would you go?
Barny – We would go to some secluded huts on the water in the Pacific, maybe Fiji?!
WD – You’re on a cross-country road trip and your right blinker goes out. The closest mechanic is five hours away. What do you do?
Barny – Keep going. Americans don’t use blinkers anyway, we’ll be fine.
WD – Barny – thanks for swinging by to chat and bringing the breakfast tacos. You’ve taken these sessions to another level. It was also a first to play bag toss with Emerson during the middle of the interview! I truly enjoyed hearing your stories and sharing your message. See you at the next RAW workout!
Barny – Thanks for having us, mate. You’re welcome for the tacos. We know they’re a must around this office! It’s great to finally see what y’all have done with the place. We’re glad to be in Austin. It’s always great to sit down and talk about my friends, experiences, and coaches that I’ve had along the way. I can’t wait to share everything and train athletes to their first IRONMAN finish!
Staying Vertical is an interview session with various individuals within the endurance community hosted by William Dyson, High Five Events Communications Manager. Staying Vertical will showcase the perspective of runners, triathletes, sponsors, partners, event producers, and volunteers to understand what makes them tick. We will highlight their involvement and give the endurance community an inside look at the individuals that are just like you and me.
5.28.17 – IRONMAN Brazil (THIS SATURDAY!)
8.21.16 – IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant (4th place – 8:39:51)
7.17.16 – 70.3 Racine (5th place – 2:26:06)
5.29.16 – IRONMAN South American Championship Brazil (4th place – 8:08:57)
10.11.14 – IRONMAN World Championships (14th place – 8:37:17)
3.23.14 – IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championship Melbourne (2nd place – 8:02:14)
11.18.12 – IRONMAN Arizona (2nd place – 8:04:58)
6.12.11 – 70.3 Kansas Champion (3:49:44)
9.19.10 – 70.3 Syracuse Champion (3:49:49)
6.28.09 – 70.3 Buffalo Springs Champion (4:01:26)