Friday, June 26, 2009

Ironman Voice of Asia


You will be familiar with Whit Raymond if you are either a participant of spectator at one of the many world-class events emceed by him. He is a permanent fixture in the AVIVA Ironman 70.3 Singapore since 2007. Participants of Ironman Malaysia were suitably impressed when this multiple-Kona Ironman finisher did his race briefing for the Japanese contingent – entirely in Japanese! He is very much at home speaking in English or in Japanese. Whit has the ability to bring the energy up with his use of music and wit. He always closes with an ACDC song, which fans have come to accept as his signature piece as well as anthem. His style is, undeniably, different from the equally respected Mike Riley. Whit’s philosophy towards triathlons is simply, have fun! Yes, he used this ‘f’ word (fun) on me several times during the interview. Have fun!

Multiple-Ironman finisher, Clifford Lee from Singapore describes Whit: ‘I think Whit is a very professional voice talent. Apart from his vibrant voice quality, he is able to manage changes time to time to keep the event smooth running. With fabulous linguistic abilities, he is able to make everyone feel at ease. In addition, I believe he does some research/homework on events he background of high-profile athletes. With such information, he is able to discharge his work diligently. Over and above the points mentioned, he has a sound knowledge of the sport he covers. This gives him an even better position for the job.’

From the pre-race briefing to pre-dawn, pre-race announcements at Ironman triathlons Whit’s assuring voice can be heard. He will be the last person standing (and announcing), as the last participant crosses just before midnight. At the time of this interview, Whit was between two major engagements: the Phuket Marathon, and Ironman Japan 2009. Such is his popularity: a heavy schedule, repeat bookings, and a jet-set lifestyle. Fortunately, for us, he took time off to share a Transition moment with us.

Full name: Whitridge Raymond

Age: 49

Status: Single

Profession: Event Commentator

Years in profession: 17

City of Residence: Napa, California USA

Years in triathlon: 24 (since 1986)

Pet peeves: Smoking

Hobbies: Music/books

Favourite Music: Everything goes...almost

Favourite Film/Book/Author: Film - Indiana Jones series; The Alchemist; Paulo Coelho

Enrico Varella: Thank you for making time to do this interview, Whit.

Whit Raymond: Enrico, you have some interesting questions…

EV: An occupational hazzard, I assure you. Walk us through your active lifestyle, Whit. You run a successful business as global emcee and race-announcer. We know you as the “Voice of Ironman in Asia’. I have met you in Ironman Malaysia, China and Singapore. Describe your work schedule for us in the next few weeks.

WR: I will be at the Phuket Marathon next weekend, then off to IM Japan.

EV: Where else after that?

WR: Kona Marathon, after Phuket and Japan. Then, IM UK in early-August.

EV: What a busy schedule! Now, how did you start on this unique, profession?

WR: My first announcing job was in1993 at the Hawaii Ironman!

EV: You speak fluent Japanese. Was that your major at university?

WR: I studied Japanese at University.

EV: That must surely be one of the catalysts for your work, and your exceeding popularity with the Japanese and Asians. You must be hoarse after each event. How do you keep your voice in peak shape?

WR: Hydration is very important! And rest!

EV: Other than triathlons, what else do you do to keep active? We have seen you running [fast] before our event begins.

WR: In-line skating. Telemark skiing, and mountain-biking.

EV: You told me that you will not do the full Ironman format in Kona anymore as you do not agree with the heat…is that correct?

WR: No! I like the heat!

EV: My mistake. It must have been the Hainan heat in my head. Anyone who loves the heat deserves our utmost respect! Tell us more about your affinity with triathlons and endurance race. How did you start on this type of sports, and then lead into your profession?

WR: Triathlon has been a huge part of my life for a very long time. I have always said, SWIM, BIKE, RUN - HAVE FUN! My first Tri was in Japan, my 4th was IM Japan and I qualified for Hawaii then: 1986.

EV: When taking on these physical challenges, how do you maintain your work/life/family balance?

WR: It's difficult but with proper balance and planning it can work.

EV: How does an active physical lifestyle tie in to your work as an entrepreneur and businessperson, as well as a leader?

WR: I like to try to be fit because it feels good, gives me energy, and feeds my brain with energy.

EV: What made you do Ironman? How many years did you train before you qualified for Kona?

WR: I qualified my first year (1986) in my 4th Triathlon. I did Kona 5 times.

EV: Bloody-O! Five times. Amazing. Which has been your favourite Ironman event, and non-Ironman event you have emceed for?

WR: Ironman Japan, and Laguna Phuket Triathlon.

EV: Do you model your work after a mentor? How does Mike Riley fit into your working model?

WR: Mike Reilly taught me a lot over the years and he is a great guy. I totally respect him. I have my own style however, and tend to do the things I think will create energy and enthusiasm and will hopefully motivate people and energize the event.

EV: Which you do well, undeniably. Why the Ironman triathlon? What started you on that?

WR: Just fell into it.

EV: Who are your biggest influences in your life? Why them?

WR: My daughter...she is 16 now...I am motivated by her to be the best father I can be for her.

EV: Good on you, mate. What is your strategy for racing? Is it ‘all or nothing’, or ‘one step at a time’, or ‘be the best’?

WR: Have FUN! Swim, Bike, Run - HAVE FUN!!!

EV: What mental skills/anchors do you use once you really start hurting (in a race) and the grizzly bear climbs on your back telling you to just walk or quit?

WR: I don't like to walk...

EV: I can definitely relate to that. How do you stay motivated to repeat similar challenges once you have ticked the box, i.e. Ironman triathlon World Championships in Kona?

WR: Triathlon is FUN! I like doing fun things in life.

EV: That’s that ‘F’ word again. How did you decide to become an entrepreneur? Were you ever a ‘corporate slave’?

WR: I have always worked for myself but have also been in the corporate world. I have a tendency to like to do my own thing...

EV: You are an entrepreneur. How long have you done this?

WR: I have been announcing events since 1993.

EV: What have been your major achievements?

WR: Ironman Hawaii, Xterra World Championships, Raid Adventure World Championships.

EV: What was your proudest moment in your profession?

WR: Proudest moment? Too many cool moments to mention!

EV: How has Ironman training and racing benefitted you, both personally and professionally?

WR: Triathlon training and racing has kept me fit and allows me confidence to work hard and play hard!

EV: What’s next on the list of ‘to do’ or ‘to conquer’ list?

WR: More TV jobs. I currently do many television voiceover jobs and would like to do more of those.

EV: What is your philosophy towards life? The host of ‘The Amazing race’, Phil Koegan wrote a book ‘NOW – No Opportunity Wasted’. What is your take on that?

WR: Life is so precious! Never miss the chance to LOVE and to tell those you love that you love them!

1 comment:

Matty Wong said...

What a cool dude!, I have had him announce my finishing 2x.

Interesting how they view life vs training and racing. To them, the race is nothing more than a avenue to show their passion for the sport.