Miss Ohio to sing National Anthem at American Triple-T

Cambridge, OH – Matti-Lynn Chrisman, originally from Cambridge, Ohio and the current reigning Miss Ohio will be on site on Sunday, June 2 to sing the National Anthem at the American Triple-T before the participants take on the challenging final event.

The official voice of HFP Racing, Rich Fowler with the newly crowed Miss Ohio

About the American Triple-T
The American Triple-T in Ohio has an almost cult like following that continues to attract athletes from more than 40 states and 5 countries each year. The Salt Fork State Park event is scheduled for the first weekend of June.

The American Triple-T is played out in the Ohio’s largest state park in southeastern, Ohio, just a little over 1 hour by car from the Columbus, 2 hours from Cleveland and Pittsburgh and just 6 hours from Chicago.

The Salt Fork State Park is in Cambridge, Ohio in the rugged, unglaciated hill region of southeastern Ohio region and is known for its vast forest wilderness, containing a blend of rich woodlands and rolling meadows. Participants will be treated to a spectacular venue with panoramic views of Salt Fork State Park, conveniently located within steps of the Lakeside Cabins and the Salt Fork Lodge providing participants a private retreat between the demanding races.


  • Strong cell phone service coverage for most carriers all around the venue
  • Participants can stay plugged into their social media before, during and after the race
  • More on-site (and lower cost) lodging at a family friendly lodge with 53 cabins next to the transition area and 148 guest rooms just a brief walk away.
  • Easy driving access from major Midwest cities via major interstates (I-70 or I-77) and located within 2 hours of 3 major international airports (Columbus, Cleveland and Pittsburgh).
  • Clean easy to access lake with nice egress into the water via carpeted boat ramp
  • Unique run course featuring the Shadbush trail system
  • Super supportive park, lodge and visitors bureau will be on hand to deliver a red carpet experience

It’s Race Week – Official American Triple-T Participant Guide Released

What IS the American Triple-T?  Well, it’s everything you’ve heard it to be, and more. The event is so much more than your typical “triathlon weekend” — it’s a triathlon achievement of epic proportions for all who partake. It is 3 consecutive days of racing, gelling together 4 races covering a total of more than 70 or 140 miles for the weekend. You will find yourself swimming in the chilly spring-fed lakes, riding the most technically challenging hills in Ohio, and finishing with out-and-back runs along the trail systems climbing and descending those same hillsides.

The American Triple-T is not for the weak or faint of spirit. It has humbled many triathletes who didn’t take it seriously, and it validates a host of others who test their “tri-mettle” at the “T” every year. Athletes from all 50 states, and 4 continents have all sought the privilege of earning their American Triple-T finisher T-shirt. Competitors, volunteers and spectators all come away with a new appreciation of the sport and of the athletes who train and tame mind and body to complete this legendary event.

You’ll also come away with newfound friendships, and you’ll solidify those bonds every year you come together to face this demon. There are even a special few who turned their initial shared experiences at the American Triple-T into a union of souls, and they came back the next year to compete as husband and wife! While we cannot guarantee that you’ll find your soul mate at the “T”, we will guarantee an incredible, unforgettable experience unique in the triathlon world.

We’re READY – Are you?

Rich Fowler – Race Announcer




Team RWB – Eagle in Need

Team RWB – Eagle in Need

Anyone who has ever been to an HFP Racing event knows of our fondness for Team RWB and the awesome work they do with Veterans. Eagles Rock, and we love seeing them carrying the colors before and during the races!  One of our Ohio Eagles just had his “snowglobe shaken” badly, and is in need of our help.  As always, Team RWB convenes a congress of Eagles, and our injured Eagle isn’t flying solo.  Here’s how you can help too.

The Details:
Matt and Callie Kelley appear to be what everyone strives to be when we wish we were better people.  Matt is a US Army veteran who served honorably for years, including combat deployments.  Callie is a social worker in the Cincinnati area, and together they serve as foster parents for at risk kids in the Cincinnati area, with as many as 10 kids in their home at a time, waiting for a forever family.  Heart,  service, and love are all words that can accurately paint the Kelley picture.  Matt hasn’t been a regular at HFR Races in the past few years because of his commitment to his every growing family, but he’s still “one of us”.

One day last month, Matt came home to find his wife Callie lifeless in bed.  She had passed away overnight, and he was left to continue on without her.  I personally can’t image many worse days.

Over the last few weeks Matt has been reshaping his world, while still managing to help shape the worlds of his 6 kids.  The mission continues.

Our chance to be of assistance comes this weekend (and longer) as their friends and family are hosting a benefit to support the family of Callie Marie Kelley.  Held at the 50 West Brewery in Cincinnati, it will feature auction items, raffles, and more in an effort to help Matt with continuing on.  HFP Racing has donated a “race for a year” certificate – good for all races in the 2018 season.  Other folks have also donated some great items, and there is a GoFundMe page set up in her honor at

https://www.gofundme.com/callie-marie-kelley.  If you are so inclined in this “week of giving”, please consider helping out by donating, adding items of value to the raffle or auction, or by joining us in the festivities Noon – 5pm at 50 West Brewery, 7605 Wooster Pike, Cincinnati.  Call Jesse at 895-250-9815 or email at jesse.neack@teamrwb.org to lend other assistance.

Thanks for your consideration for a fellow Eagle and we hope to see you at 50 West Brewery on Sunday.

Eagle up!

fowler pic head shot

Why I love this sport so much!

If you have ever wondered why I love my triathlon crew so much, or why I (and many others) think that triathlons and triathletes are the best people in the world, let me share just a few things that occurred over the weekend to confirm that proclamation.  We will visit a few different sites, all over North America in the next few minutes, so – hold on….

In Calgary, AL (Canada, eh) – in the IM 70.3 Alberta, two female Pro’s turned a race of over 70 miles into a sprint of 50 yards at the finish.  Ohio triathlete and great lady Jennifer Speildenner Whitacre won that  epic battle with Rachel McBride, and after the race they hugged, and spent the next few hours laughing and congratulating EACH OTHER on a fantastic effort, and praising the others ability, and continuing that attitude on social media.  Can you think of another sport where two professional athletes would exhibit that level of sportsmanship and humanity to each other?  Maybe, but there aren’t many, and there should be.  Congratulations to Rachel McBride and Jen Speildenner Whitacre for showing the world how true professionals act, publicly and privately.

In Birmingham AL (Y’all) a group of people were watching internet results intently as first time triathlete Dennis Gossard completed his first race after retiring from a 32 year career in the Army.  All reports say that he had fun, and is now officially hooked on the tri-ddiction.  Congrats Dennis, and welcome to the tri-family.

In Springfield, OH (where we drink “pop”) – The Great Buckeye Challenge saw a record field of folks turn out to compete in Mini, Sprint, Olympic, and Half distance races in what turned out to be record weather conditions.  A high pressure system has been hanging over the Midwest all week, and Sunday it decided to turn up the heat.  Record high temps, a blazing sun, and stifling air made a challenging race even more difficult, to the point that the Medical and Safety teams made the decision to reduce the final 13.1 mile run portion to a 10K for the safety of the racers.  Thanks to race management (HFP Racing) and the Safety and Medical teams for putting racer safety over everything.  Racers rule.

The Great Buckeye Challenge had other memorable moments for many racers.  More than a dozen racers did the GBC as an “Anniversary Race” since they did the GBC as their first race anywhere from 1, 5, 10, even 15 years ago.  Deanna Kiesel of Findlay, OH used it to record her 1005th race (Yes, one thousand and five) race, and Gary Rhoades of State College PA recorded his 800th finish.  Wow.  We will talk about each of these great people in detail later…

Finally, somewhere between the “we love our volunteers” and “tri-people rock” columns, a story from a racer at the GBC shows the character of both tri racers, and tri volunteers.  A half-distance racer finished and went straight to race management to sing the praises of the volunteers.

As the athlete slogged through his final run, his new shoes and lack of socks put blisters that turned to open, bleeding wounds on his feet, to the point that he removed his shoes to run in bare feet on the 115 degree pavement.  To say he was in pain was an understatement.  At an aid station, a volunteer we’ll call “Tammi” (cause that’s her name) saw his predicament, and literally gave him the socks from her feet!  She removed her own socks, helped him sit down, and proceeded to get him situated to finish the race in HER socks.  She saved his race, and he knew it.  He did finish the race, and when he finished, he made sure everyone knew how much he appreciated the volunteers.  (Yes, he kept the socks, and we replaced Tammi’s).

We all know that our volunteers make the race possible, as they get up before we do, they work while we play, and they continue to work after we go home.  Thanks again to Tammi and to everyone who has ever volunteered at a race.  We don’t always show our appreciation, but we do appreciate you greatly.

Until next time, we’ll see you at the finish line!








Rich Fowler
The Official Voice of HFP Racing


A celebrated participant at the Great Buckeye Challenge

Gossard2-PhotoAs some of you know, I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for our HFP Racers with a military background. Team RWB and active duty military get shout outs at every race, and they add a lot to our experience as well. We love having them race with us. With that in mind, we will have a special guest with us at the Great Buckeye Challenge on Saturday July 24 in Springfield. But that starts us too far forward – let’s back up a bit. About 35 years ago I had a friend who I also called “brother”, who was my inward and outward opposite. He was a skinny, calm little guy – I’ve never been accused of that; he was rather quiet and reserved, while I – well, you know me. We were flip sides of the same coin, and it worked. After HS I went off to college, and he said he was going to give the military a try. Fast forward 32 years, and he will be joining us at The Great Buckeye Challenge – but he isn’t the same skinny little kid I used to know.

Army Master Sergeant Dennis Gossard retired last week after 32 years of serving our country, just a week prior to The Great Buckeye Challenge, and he has chosen his first “civilian” activity to be the GBC – and to race with us!! We are honored to have him with us. Dennis is a lifelong Ohio resident (when he hasn’t been out working for Uncle Sam), and has always been a Buckeye. Before all else though, Dennis is a lifelong soldier.

His resume includes the 82 nd Airborne Division, the 108 th Divisional HQ, and Special Gossard1-PhotoOperations Command. Dennis has served as and supported operators and operations at forward bases all over the world, and has had sand in places we civilians never, ever want to consider finding sand.

We are thrilled that Master Sergeant Gossard has chosen to compete in his first triathlon with us at The Great Buckeye Challenge, and I am even happier that we can congratulate and honor my little brother Denny for his 3 decades of service to our country. Denny will be conspicuous in transition (I will see to that), and he will also do us the honor of posting colors for the pre-race National Anthem. If you can find the time in your race prep, please take a moment to step over and congratulate him on his retirement, and welcome Denny to the HFP family. It’s nice to finally have him home!

Bringing it from the mic!








Rich Fowler
The Official Voice of HFP Racing

Miami University Triathlon & Duathlon – a great story…

MU-Finisher-Buddies-2015Anyone that knows me knows that spend a good bit of my weekends standing behind a microphone announcing at HFP Racing events all over the Midwest.  People ask me why I do all of these events, knowing that I leave the house at 3am for some of them, spend my weekends volunteering my sweat and energy, and not racing.  For the most part, I love doing it, and that is a big reason.  I was reminded this weekend of one of the other reasons.

Saturday started out with a thunderstorm at a beautiful Miami University course in southern Ohio.   The storm rolled through, and as we started to get racers in the water, it morphed into a warm sunny day for 350 or so triathletes to do their thing.  In the field of racers was John “Bo”, who was easily identifiable as he only had one leg.  He swam well, had no trouble getting on/off the bike, and started his 5K run in a small group of other racers.  I had the pleasure of talking with his family while they waited and watched for him at the finish line.

Born with a birth defect, Bo has spent all of his life with one leg severely misshapen, painful, and not quite but nearly useless; and he has endured that pain for years.  He had never been a runner, an athlete, or done much exercise of any sort because of the leg.  Finally in 2012, doctors said the leg needed to be amputated, and it was.

That decision changed his life.  Since the amputation, he has run a 5k, been incredibly active, and now, with us at HFP Racing, is attempting his first triathlon.  You could see and hear the pride and love from his family just ooze out as they told his story.

Bo rounded the bend walking and entered the chute for the last 100 yards to the finish line, and I jumped on the mic to let the crowd that had gathered to welcome him in know his story.  I also chided him a little about the unwritten rule that “If people are watching, there is no walking for a real triathlete”, but also let him know that we’d cut him a little slack on that gentleman’s agreement this time.  He smiled, looked at his family that had gathered at the line to impatiently wait for him, threw his shoulders back and RAN the last 30 yards to cross the finish line.  He IS a triathlete, and the cheers of the people who had gathered at the line to encourage him drove home the point.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including his own.  It was one of those moments that some people wait a lifetime to accomplish, and others wait a lifetime to watch.

Thank you Bo for sharing your moment with us; we are honored and humbled that you chose an HFP Racing event to conquer your demon.  There is no stopping you now, and your children and grandchildren that watched your finish line sprint will know that too, and there will never be a better source of inspiration for them.  Congratulations, and we wish you all the success you could ever imagine.

To answer the question asked earlier – Why do I volunteer my weekends and get up at crazy hours to stand in the rain and sun and mud to simply watch a triathlon? – Take a look at Bo and his story, and know that every person that crosses a finish line has their own demon to conquer, and if I get to help tell just a few of their stories, then that’s good enough for me.  I consider it time well spent.

Got a demon to conquer?  Come share the load and the story with us.  The road behind is littered with vanquished demons, and the road ahead is waiting for you.

See you on race day!

Rich Fowler


Wounded Warrior/Team RWB follow-up

Clifton2There are many great stories from the July 27-28 “10 TV Commit to be Fit Multisport Celebration” but very few of them are many years in the making.  If you’re watching the video, or if you were at the finish line with us, you saw many athletes from TEAM RWB finish the triathlon carrying a giant American flag as they crossed the finish line.  This is but one of the stories under that flag.

Meet Master Sgt. Sean Clifton: U.S. Army Green Beret, Special Forces soldier, and Team Leader who served tours in Afghanistan and other unfriendly places.  Sean has held a special place with us at the” 10 TV Commit to be Fit Multisport Festival” since last year, when he competed but didn’t complete the race.  A severe bike crash took him out of the race and out of action for more than a short while.  Of course this is not Sean’s first time dealing with something that takes him out of action for a while.

Clifton BMay 31, 2009 Sean was a number of Special Forces team in Afghanistan whose mission was to take out a Taliban stronghold.  As the “breecher” he was first to the door, and first in.  He was also the first to catch incoming Taliban fire.  From the Survive and Thrive website: “Two of the rounds were critical; one hit his left arm, shattering the wrist and rendering his left arm useless.  Another round hit just under his body armor, entering his left waistline, critically wounding 5 major organs.”  He was a mess, and they barely kept him alive on the battlefield. He has since endured more than 20 surgeries to repair his body, but his spirit was never broken.  After months at the US Army Walter Reed Medical Center, he returned to central Ohio and to his family, including his triathlon family.  A member of TEAM RWB, a veterans group dedicated to “transforming the way that America supports its veterans” Sean and his RWB teammates encouraged each other to train, and race, and never give up.  Fast forward a year, and more than a dozen members of TEAM RWB completed the “10 TV Commit to be Fit Multisport Celebration” Triathlon on Sunday, each one carrying that huge American flag the last 100 yards.  There was a definite cheer from the crowd as Sean rounded the corner to come under the arch and down the finish chute, and to anyone watching, it was just another very fit athlete completing another tough race.  That is, until we were reminded that just a few years ago he was bleeding out in a doorway halfway across the world, that he has earned a Purple Heart Medal, 3 Bronze Stars, 4 Army Commendation Medals, and 5 Army Achievement Medals, and he continues to serve his Country today as an advisor to the Department of Justice and Homeland Security operations.

Master Sergeant Clifton can now add one more medal to his collection, the finisher medal from the “10 TV Commit to be Fit Multisport Celebration”.  We only hope it means as much to him as his service and his efforts mean to us.  Great to see you at the finish line Sir, and we’ll try to say thank you for all that you did and continue to do, we just can’t find words that match the weight of your efforts.

See you on race day!

For more information on Sean, TEAM RWB, or the Wounded Warrior Project, see:




Doing that thing you do!

Another jam packed few days of announcing, teaching, and more in the books this weekend, and a few things came together to help me realize just what a lucky guy I am to be a part of this HFP Racing family.

Most of you know me as ”The big guy in the red shirt” behind the microphone at the HFP racing events.  Some know me simply by my voice, as you may have heard it at various sporting or charity events.  Still others know me as their self-defense instructor, and that voice when directed at you can be a powerful tool and a helpful reminder.  Announcing at HFP racing events started out as a favor, and grew into something truly life-changing for me and my family.

Announcing is an incredibly fun job!  Another HFP staffer filled in for me Saturday as I was triple booked at other events (that doesn’t happen often!), and was relieved when I showed up at the HFP race site.  “I’m glad you’re here” he told me,  “This announcing job is really hard.”  Really it’s unfair to call it a “job” at all, as it’s so much fun.  Granted, waking at 4 AM on race day, being polite when I don’t want to be, and being informative and cheerful until the last finisher has crossed the line doesn’t always come without some effort, but it is truly rewarding work, and I’m happy to have it.

After announcing a charity hockey game a few weeks ago, one of the players stopped me in the hallway and said “I don’t know why you do this, but thanks for doing it.”   Why do I do it? I can tell you, it isn’t for the money – but it IS for all the things I get that money simply cannot buy.   I get to be involved in some pretty special moments.   I get to be the one they come to with that special recognition when their son or daughter is struggling to the finish line of their first race. I get to be the one who gets the note from a husband to convey a special message to his wife as they race together on their wedding anniversary.   I get to be the one to revel in the excitement of watching a Pro triathlete podium a special race, and I get to be the first to congratulate that man or woman who dropped 100 pounds over the last year and changed their life with triathlon. I get to be the first one to welcome that Wounded Warrior back to active life as he or she hits the finish line after rehabbing an injury, and I get to thank that warrior and all his brethren for all of us.  I have seen some pretty special moments, and each one is burned in and has become a part of me.  I call you people my “family” because you are, and I am richly blessed for it.

For me it’s also a bit of the “hair of the dog that bit you” concept too.  I was terrible at public speaking early on.  I can remember doing presentations for school and community organizations and being reminded just how bad I was, and how I needed to improve.  I was awful, and I knew it. So I started asking to perform parts, or to read aloud, or whatever would help me to get better at not panicking in front of a crowd.  Hard to believe…but true!  (Insert your “shocked face” here).  That initial fear jumped back in my throat the first time Shannon asked me to help at an HFP race, but with a little practice and the patience of you, our racers, I hope I’ve gotten a little better.  I still strive to improve every race.

Another key point to working with HFP is the concept of a total team effort.  I try to be anonymous (or as much as possible) at races, as  I intentionally don’t announce my name at races, as there is no need for it; so it makes me laugh when people come up to me and ask “are you Shannon?”  No, I am not, but that’s OK.  I try to be invisible.  I think that’s what made the finish line such a highlight of my day this weekend at the Armco park triathlon.  As you know, when you register for a race there is a section for you to document those special things that you want everyone to know under “Announcer Comments”.  Those comments splash up on my announcer screen as you cross the finish line.  This comment splashed and not only made me smile, but made my day as the racer stopped in the finish chute and chastised me for not reading it on the mic.  Alice said later:   “HFP’s announcer always makes the extra effort to personally recognize athletes, whether it’s their birthday or their first effort at that distance. He’s like the Midwest’s own Mike Riley, and it’s great having a familiar voice call out my name when I cross the finish line. There have been HFP races where I’ve placed in my age group and races where I’ve been one of the last people on the course, but Rich always acknowledges my crossing of the finish line with enthusiasm. It makes my day.”  The “Mike” in question is Mike Riley – the official voice of Ironman, and the voice that literally every triathlete wants to hear someday call their name (including me) with “You are an Ironman”.  Unfortunately there isn’t much to compare between me and Mike Riley, as Mike is a professional with thousands of Ironman finishers under his vocal belt;  I am just a guy in a red shirt talking with friends and family, making sure everyone has a safe and fun race, with some good natured heckling thrown in too.  Thank you for your kind words, and thanks for recognizing that we do work hard to make sure you have a safe and fun race.  Remember to remind us of your special accomplishments under the “Announcer notes”, or just come to the tent on race day and drop me a note.   It doesn’t matter to us if you’re first, fast, or last – everyone should feel like family at the race, and if we have any say in it, we’ll make sure of it.

See you on race day!

–          Be sure to “Like” the HFP racing page on Facebook too, and connect with us there if you like. We will often use what you post there to help recognize you at the races.


A follow-up to my last blog that seemed to struck a nerve with many of you…

So it seems we struck a nerve responding to the article about 40 year olds not being triathletes.  Remember Brian Lamee of Findlay who credits triathlon with saving his life too?  He kindly chimed in to add a new perspective to our little discussion:

“Ok, so after Bloomberg recently published this article it has a bunch of people in the triathlon community outraged and yes, I am one of those people.  Considering that triathlon saved my life.  First to be fair to the writer of this article before I go completely nuts, please read it so you have some context.

The article tries to make a few points.  There is a heart risk for people over 40 that get into the sport and put too much strain on their body.  They cite people that have a heart attack during the event and die.  But if you look at CDC data for the leading causes of death  Heart Disease is right up there for people over 40 anyway.  More people die having a heart attack doing nothing on any given Sunday than all of those that have a heart attack during a marathon, triathlon, pickup basketball game or whatever.  More people die because of the Big Mac they ate than a triathlon.  1 out of every 4 deaths in the US is related to heart disease.  They cite that 60 out of 11 million marathon runners die of a heart attack.  If anything, those numbers show the benefits of healthy lifestyles.  I would take those odds.  You have a better chance of dying in a car accident on the way to a triathlon (sorry, but it is true.)  While it is tough when an athlete dies, many times they find out that the heart disease was going to get them whether they ran or not (genetics, damage was done too early, whatever.)  The main problem with this article is lack of data and science, but welcome to journalism on the internet.  If you look at tribes in other countries like the Tarahumara, running and extreme exercise have always been part of their culture and lifestyle, and they have 60+ year olds that can throw down with the best high school track teams.  They also don’t eat the crap that we Americans do, and that is probably more to the point.

The second premise of the article is that people are out doing a triathlon with little to no training.  While yes, there are those that will do that (and I am HIGHLY against it), almost everyone trains for a triathlon.  Yes, open water swimming can be hard, so you train for it.  Yes, all three sports can put stress on the body, so you spend months working up to that.  If I showed up for a Nascar race (driving, not watching) and had never trained to drive in a race, would anyone be surprised if I ate the wall and likely did not walk away?  Would you be surprised if I was in a full body cast after taking a hit in an NHL game if I never played hockey in my life?  Again if you are thinking, “hey, I have been sitting on the couch for 10 years and I am fat and overweight, you know what I am going to do … go compete in a triathlon”, stop right there and know that just like everything else, you have to train and work up to it.  But there are thousands of 40+ year olds that have trained and conditioned their body.  Now the doctor in the article makes a good point that sometimes people don’t listen to the signs their body is giving them and that is true of anything, but that does not mean that everyone should give up the sport because a few people just can’t stop.  All athletes have that drive and it is hard to stop when the body says stop.  Again, this goes for tennis players that play past the signs and do long term damage to their elbow.  Are we calling for all country clubs to stop people over 40 from playing tennis?

I mentioned it saved my life, so let me get to that.  As of this writing, I am 38 years old. When I was 30 years old, I was 100 pounds overweight, in bad shape and had a minor heart attack.  Not because of triathlon, but because of all the fast food, too much beer and sitting around doing nothing.  I had to get active and start exercising.  So I started riding my bike to get active, then I added running once I had dropped almost 50 pounds.  Then to add some different low impact exercise, I added swimming.  Friends convinced me that I needed to try a triathlon so we picked a small Sprint race and I trained for it.  I trained for the 90 degree heat I would be running in.  I trained for the open water swim.  I trained for the mass start that I would be dealing with.  I trained for the transition from the bike to the run and even did brick workouts (workouts where you do all three exercises so you know what you are in for.)  I had huge benefits of being active, eating right and being around other people that had a healthy lifestyle.  Had I not done these things, the next heart attack would have been the big one.  Is there a risk?  Sure, there is risk with everything, but I have a greater chance of having a heart attack doing nothing sitting on the coach playing the XBOX than I do in a race.  Recently I was hit by a car on my bike and one could argue that I should not ride a bike because the risk is I could die out there.  I hate to tell ya people, but our ticket is all going to get punched at some point and we all just try to avoid the things that are of serious risk (smoking, shark wrangler, hemlock taste tester, eating bacon for every meal) and go with the ones that have lower risk (running, swimming, biking, hiking).  As I approach 40, do I plan to give it up?  Nope, I will keep going.  And if I have a heart attack out there at 40+ then so be it, because to be honest, I would have had it a long time ago without triathlon and every year I have now, is a year that I probably should not have had.

But remember, triathlon is a serious event and ordeal and it can be stressful on the body.  You need to train for something like this and train for the race conditions you will face (if the race will be hot, don’t do all your training early in the morning or if the swim will be in open water, get out of the pool and do open water for a few swims.)  And finally, listen to your body.  If you are coming from a sedentary lifestyle (have not exercised before) then make sure you have your doctor check you out to make sure there is not something wrong that increased stress could make worse and if it hurts or does not feel right, stop.”

Thanks Brian – and we’ll see you on race days for many years to come!



Men over 40 should not run triathlons

In a recent article published in Bloomberg news (seen here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-20/men-over-40-should-think-twice-before-running-triathlons.html) a researcher presents a very well-constructed case as to why men over the age of 40 should not consider participating in the sport of triathlon. The article cites the obvious strain on an untrained body, the immediate shock and strain of open water swimming in cold lakes, and the long distances of some of America’s favorite triathlons all as reasons that middle-aged men die in triathlon, and should therefore rethink participation in the sport. As a long time triathlete, and a long time man over the age of 40, I just have two words to say to this “researcher”: but Shannon won’t allow me to print them here. Let’s understate it and say that I might disagree, and many of our fellow triathletes disagree as well.

The researcher cites the triathlon lifestyle as one that is overly taxing on an athlete’s heart, citing research that minimal exercise is best.  ““People need to understand that they’re not necessarily gaining more health by doing more exercise,” said David Prior, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine in the article.  While on the surface that may be true, there are a long, long list of names that I have called across the finish line who are alive simply because they did gain more health by doing more exercise.  Brian Lamee of Findlay Ohio lost 125 pounds in his quest to get healthy and become the awesome age grouper that he is now; and hundreds of other people have taken to triathlon to get off the couch and start doing more exercise.  Every one of them healthier, happier, and better for it.  Personally, I found the sport of triathlon because of the weight loss challenge, and I know many other Clydesdales who revel in the competition and camaraderie of being on the course with other Big Dogs.  We’re not competing because we think we can set some course record, or because we think we can fly around the course like these light little 19-year-olds.  We compete to participate in the lifestyle, to exercise, to smile, and to be with other people enjoying the same things that we love.

People use triathlon and the lifestyle to combat many other things. Don Cain of Team HFP makes no secret of the fact that without triathlon he would be dead.  A struggling alcoholic early in life, Don turned to the triathlon lifestyle as a way to beat his addiction. Not only was he able to beat that addiction, he beat it down hard, and is now a nationally ranked triathlete, has earned his PhD, and counsels youth all over the country about how the triathlon lifestyle could put them on the path to greatness as well.  Don would be the first one to argue that he absolutely gained more health by doing more exercise.

Deanna Kiesel of Team HFP looks like any other racer on the course on race morning, but she’s far from ordinary.  A veteran of more than 85 marathons, and more than 100 triathlons and duathlons over the past 15 years, you cannot tell by looking at her that she’s been fighting cancer since that very first marathon.  She uses running, triathlons, and exercise in general as her coping mechanism.  She also takes that same fighting spirit and translates it into her job as a school counselor, helping young people realize that the fight is not over till you decide it’s over.  She takes another swing at cancer with every step on the course, and she’ll let the disease know when this fight is over.  She too would argue that a little more exercise absolutely gave her a little better health, both mentally and physically. Says Kiesel: “I was told that my exercise is probably the reason I’m still alive! Well, that and my total bullheadedness.”

Then there’s Kathleen Putnam, who is very easy to pick out on race mornings as she wanders through the transition area with a helper pushing her bike while she walks with two support canes.  Kathleen was hit by a car two years ago and was told that not only would she not survive, but if she did she would never walk again.  I’ve had the pleasure and the privilege of welcoming Kathleen to the finish line in both short and long distance triathlons since the day the doctors told her to give up.  Yes, she may take just a little longer than the average competitor, and those titanium canes absolutely glisten as her sweat rolls down them, but she does every inch of the course on her own power and each step is another testament to how the triathlon lifestyle can save your life.

Did you know that almost 25% of triathletes are either active-duty or veteran military?  These are people who had the exercise (AKA – “PT”) lifestyle thrust upon them and have made it a part of their life. Triathlons dangerous to men over 40?  Tell that to Lieut. Col. Graeme Henderson, a member of the US Air Force triathlon team, and a longtime member of the over 40 male club. A fantastic racer, Col. Henderson takes “PT triathlon style” to a whole new level. Add with him every grunt that comes back home and wants to jump in and stay active.  For that matter check out team RWB and talk to the members and hear the stories of how they “shadow raced” hometown races while they were deployed, how they ran miles in the desert sun to cope with boredom, or nightmares, or both.  Triathlon is dangerous for men over 40? Certainly less dangerous than defusing IED’s or standing in roadways as targets for snipers.  Ask Special Forces operative Sean Clifton if exercise was dangerous for him.  Almost dismembered by Taliban bullets, his exercise toughened body was able to withstand multiple gunshot wounds, and with some fantastic medical magic was able to heal.  He too was told to discard the triathlon lifestyle after his incident.  Ha!  You don’t tell a Ranger to do anything, he’ll tell you how it goes.  Sean told himself and his body exactly how this recovery process was going to materialize, and he used exercise as part of that healing process. He is now a nationally ranked triathlete, putting all of that determination and attitude he learned as a Ranger into excelling as a triathlete, role model, and inspiration.

Yes, the triathlon lifestyle is a bit more risky than sitting at home watching TV from the couch… Or is it?  Studies daily find that “sitting is the new smoking” and that certain levels of exercise are required just to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Research proved decades ago that resistance training in both men and women improves muscle tone, improves bone density, and improves overall health.  So is the triathlon lifestyle any more dangerous than anything else you do every day?  You can probably make the argument either way, and I say go for it – argue away.  We’ll be swimming, biking, running, and planning for our next race.

See you on race day!

Rich Fowler