• Duncan Reid

Making Changes

In my last semester at Arizona State, I took a class entitled, “Sports in U.S. Society.” It touched on a variety of topics, but one morning in March, we had a lecture on “extreme sport” and mainly its relationship with counterculture in the late 1960s and early 1970s. One lecture slide had a list of the so-called “extreme sports.” Most made sense. Sports like surfing, freestyle ski and snowboard, mountain biking, and windsurfing, are undoubtedly extreme. Undoubtedly raw. However, at the bottom of the list: triathlon.


In all honesty, I was a bit confused for a second. The ITU, sorry, World Triathlon, version of triathlon in which I had been immersed since I began racing youth elite draft legal in 2011, was neither extreme nor raw. However, when I thought about Ironman, I realized that the epic nature of all those other sports wasn’t just present in triathlon, but essential to it.


Thus, I thought about that lecture when I left Project Podium in May I had to evaluate my future, if there was one with the sport of triathlon. Quite honestly, I had been planning on continuing with the ITU-style of triathlon. I remembered that day in class. I remembered that the spirit, the essence of triathlon, is not a sport dragged down by regulations and rules, but one that is extreme and free. One that is driven by pushing one’s body to the limit. One that is simple, not overly complex. I was immediately re-drawn to the longer side of the sport, and the idea of doing something not because it is easy, but because it is hard.


So when I came around to trying to figure out the future of my racing career, the decision was simple. First off, to quit now isn’t what I’m about. That, when combined with the fact that I fought for six years to get to an elite level while dealing with a chronic illness (ulcerative colitis), that I earned a pro card training in the least-pro training environment of all time (Rural Ohio alone at my D3 college in the Winter), and that I worked for months out of sight so I would be able to swim, and swim in a lead pack, with a titanium plate in my collarbone, the decision was a simple one.


The decision to leave the ITU was just as easy. One, economics are a lot more favorable in non-draft than draft-legal. Two, there aren’t political forces: you win and you’re in.


Now, none of this means I am going to go out and race an Ironman in the coming months. There is a fine line between stupidity and challenge, and I do not wish to stray across it. It does mean that my goal is no longer to wander aimlessly through the tiers of World Triathlon. It is to qualify for the Ironman World Championships. This goal is a long-term one, and while it is attainable, it will be undoubtedly difficult. However, unlike my previous goals which had a handful of variables involved, there is only one real independent variable: me.


So, I am going to phase out my draft-legal focus over the next year and replace it with 70.3 competition. I am also going to do things differently in the day-to-day. One, I’ve started this website, and with it a weeklyish vlog and/or blog. Two, I’ve hired a coach who gives me the confidence that I can achieve these goals: Jim Vance.


With this website and blog I hope to give you the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes in the life of a young pro triathlete trying to make it to the highest levels of the sport. So welcome, and follow along.


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