Good things come in threes for Canadian Jeff Symonds. The 26-year-old from Penticton, British Columbia (home of Ironman Canada) boasts three third-place finishes at 2011 Ironman 70.3 events: Boise, Lake Stevens and most notably the world championship in Las Vegas, where his run split (1:13:33) bested every man in the field save for first-place finisher Craig Alexander. Symonds, a former steeplechase athlete and cross-country runner, stunned himself and triathlon fans worldwide with his leap to the podium at the world championship, where he previously placed 13th and 33rd. His goal now is to lose the heretofore lucky three in favor of the more elusive No. 1.
Rhymes with diamonds: It doesn’t really bother me when people mispronounce my name, but I know my grandpa would be mad if he heard them. My friends want me to adopt the nickname “Jeff Diamond Symonds” so people will get it right.
Sin City dash: I was in Vegas once before the world championship—on a four-hour layover. I decided to run from the airport to the Strip. Being from Penticton you just don’t get to see the big buildings and stuff. Plus I figured one guy had to be the worst dressed in Vegas that day. With run shorts, black compression socks and a souvenir T-shirt from “The Hangover” that I bought at the airport—why not me?
1:13:33: Everyone kept saying, “Where the hell did that come from?” But I’ve always had the good run—it’s just being able to be there after the bike to use it. Last year I did Oceanside 70.3. Michael Raelert, Matt Reed, Richie Cunningham, Tim O’Donnell and Rasmus Henning were all there, and I had the fastest run split. But getting third in Vegas was a surprise to me, too. I definitely don’t think people should have been thinking about me before the race. My mom didn’t even pick me in the top three.
Domestic disturbance: My mom and my girlfriend were home watching the race on Ironmanlive.com. They were cheering so loud that the neighbors called to ask if they were OK.
Move over, Hugh Hefner: After the race, someone asked me if being third in the world changed anything with the ladies. I told him in Vegas there were literally guys handing me cards of girls who wanted to meet me.
Bringing home the bacon: I usually work 25–28 hours a week at the Bike Barn. The pro would be that I like eating a lot. The con would be that I could spend that time training or recovering.
Yo, Adrian: Rocky’s the kind of guy everybody wants to be like. He’s this total underdog, hustling and stuff, but he gets a shot at the title. That’s what kind of attracted me to the sport of triathlon. Out there in Vegas, 1500 people had a shot at the title. I may not have got the win, but I’m the guy who works really hard part-time at the bike store, and I had that chance. It was pretty cool.