Vote: Triathlete Fit - Men's Contest
We’re recognizing the hard work and dedication that goes into becoming your fittest, healthiest self with a contest that will inspire other triathletes looking to achieve their own fitness goals in 2016.
Two age-group triathlete winners (one male, one female) as voted in our online poll, will be flown to Triathlete HQ in San Diego for a photo shoot and will be featured in a future issue of Triathlete magazine.
It’s time to vote! We've narrowed it down, and now it's your turn to vote for your favorite male entry below. Be sure to also check out the women's contest. There will be two phases of voting by the Triathlete.com audience. This phase will narrow it down to the top 10 men and top 10 women. In phase 2, we’ll feature the top 10 female athletes and the top 10 male athletes for a final voting stage where the audience and editors crown the Triathlete Fit winners in the male and female categories. Remember to look at the photos and the inspiring stories submitted by the entrants.
This phase of voting will end Monday, Feb. 1.
2016 Triathlete Fit Contest Presented by DeSoto
After law school, I began working 70-plus hours a week for the first two years. Over time, the work schedule took a toll on my body and in turn, my health. I was 228 pounds, pre-hypertensive, and had an abnormally high heart rate. On Feb. 9, 2009, I was laid off from my job. After the dust settled, I decided that if I was going to be unemployed, I wasn't going to be fat. This was when I started trying to get in shape. I have been an athlete all my life and thought I could go at it alone. However, when I started training for my first triathlon, I found out I needed help. In May 2009 I typed "free triathlon training" into Google and was led to the page for the Team In Training (TNT) Gulf Coast Chapter. I signed up after my first swim session with the team and completed my first Olympic-distance tri in September of that year. Since then, I have lost 50 pounds, am no longer pre-hypertensive, my heart rate is down (so low my doctor always checks twice), have completed three marathons, four TNT triathlons, one Ironman, and over 20 other triathlons, and made some friends that I will have for the rest of my life.
I am on the right. At 59 years old, I have been involved in triathlons for four years. This picture was taken on a century ride in Michigan, although we were cut off at 75 miles as we were involved in a CPR restitution. My friend Nicole and I were the first ones [to help] a fallen cyclist—thankfully he survived. My fitness includes weight training as well as a dose of running, cycling and swimming. I will be [racing] mostly local triathlons as well as a half-Ironman this year. I am still working hard especially on swimming and cycling—they are my weak disciplines—as my big goal is to compete in Kona possibly when I enter my 60s. I love helping new people in this sport, hopefully inspiring them [to live] a life of health and fitness.
For me, fitness represented achieving the physiological requirements needed to finish an Ironman. And I did complete multiple Ironmans, even the 2013 Ironman World Championship. What I learned, however, is that fitness is much more than that. In March of 2014, I suffered a catastrophic bicycle accident, fracturing and dislocating my C4-T2; basically my head came off my neck. According to my surgeon, it was my fitness that saved my life or kept me from being quadriplegic. Other than a miracle, there was no other explanation.
After the accident, I did make a run at another Ironman, but broke my hand three weeks before the race. During training and now, there is constant pain engrossing my neck and back. Faced with chronic pain, the challenge is proving to be far greater than anything I’ve faced. However, staying fit, as much as I can, has proven to be the only certain remedy for dealing with the pain.
Before the accident, when I saw a fit body, I saw definition, curves, and tightness – strength. Now, when I see a fit body, I see one ready for what comes their way, physical or mental.
I’m 38, living in Queen Creek, Ariz. I’m a husband and father of two. About 3 to 4 years ago I decided I was going to try to become an Ironman triathlete. There was one problem: I didn't know how to swim. To make a long story short, I read the bible of all swim books, [Triathlon Swimming Made Easy:] The Total Immersion Way for Anyone to Master Open-water Swimming by Terry Laughlin. In a matter of three months I went from 25–27 strokes per 25 meters down to 12–13 strokes. And it wasn't an easy feat being a self-taught swimmer. I have since competed in several triathlons and two iron-distance races with more to come in the future.
I live in Littleton, Colo., and am a high school social studies teacher. I was not a classically athletic person as a youth. But I loved my BMX bike! This did not fit the standard “athlete” profile of the ball sports. Fast-forward to around age 22, and I fell back in love with biking and went from bike messengering to racing! When I hit 29 I knew I needed a challenge to make me work harder and get fit. Welcome to the world of triathlon! I did the Mrs. T’s Chicago Triathlon in 2000 and was the fittest I had ever been! Fast-forward to 2007 and a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters and a small fat tire around my waist. I was now in Colorado and needed to keep father time away. I signed up for the Boulder Long Course (70.3) in 2008, inspired by my daughter's swimming. I did it! It’s now 2016 and I’m training for my third full Ironman. Triathlon has kept me happy, healthy fit, and inspired. The secret is determination. I love being 45 years old and in the best shape of my life due to this amazing sport. I feel proud to be an athletic inspiration to those around me. Thanks, triathlon!
My name is Daniel Whalen and I am a 25-year-old age-group triathlete living and training in Clermont, Fla. I am currently working as an engineer at a geotechnical engineering firm and pursuing my master’s degree in engineering while training and racing triathlon. The multisport lifestyle has changed my life for the better in so many ways. It has kept me away from harmful substances, it has introduced me to healthy foods and healthy eating habits, and it has surrounded me with motivating and fit people to interact and socialize with. The secret to my success in the multisport lifestyle has always been rooted in picking up a challenge and taking the small, necessary steps to reach it. Each challenge I succeed in serves as fuel to ignite the next challenge! Thank you for taking the time to read my submission and I would love to be a part of the Triathlete Fit Contest to help inspire others!
I steadily hovered around 250 pounds and always wanted to get in shape—and stay there. I could never find the drive to push me over the hump until a car came into my lane and hit me head-on in November 2011. Now not only was I fat, but I was hurt. I started running with my wife, and swimming/biking with a neighbor. Someone said, "Maybe you should do a triathlon." I first signed up for an Olympic distance. I have since done two 70.3's with shoulder surgery from a pothole-induced bike crash, and have never looked backed. I am in shape, I keep my weight around 165, and I'm doing my first full at Ironman Boulder 2016.
My name is Dennis Durling and I am 46 years old. My wife and I celebrated our 20-year anniversary this past summer. We have two teenage children. I grew up playing baseball, soccer and weightlifting as a kid. It was during my freshman year in college (1987) that I needed a P.E. class to fulfill my course requirements. I registered for Swim 101. And the rest is history. It was during this time that I met a group of triathletes. What I first noticed was what incredible physical shape they were in. I asked many questions. I picked up a copy of Competitor and I began including running and biking along with my swim class. I registered for my first triathlon six months later in Pismo Beach, Calif. Last year I completed my 69th triathlon. My triathlons have included sprint, Olympic and half-Ironman distances; I have the goal of completing an Ironman at the age of 50. … I have never been out of shape. That was part of the reason I was able to succeed as a soldier medic in the Army National Guard. I enlisted at the age of 40 and completed my four-year commitment. Currently, I work in the agriculture industry. My best advice in living a healthy lifestyle is staying committed, eat well, and incorporate strength training!
I became hooked on physical fitness when I ran the Long Island Marathon in May of 1994. I suffered late in the race from warm conditions, going out too fast and bonked, but completed the race in 4 hours 15 minutes and change. Ever since that day, I’ve been aggressive in my quest to be faster and in better physical condition. In February of 2010, while training for the Boston Marathon I felt exhausted and physically spent. Thinking that I overtrained, I cancelled running Boston and decreased my training volume. In May of 2010, I was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After 6 months of chemotherapy, I was in remission. Subsequently, I ran three marathons but post-chemotherapy fatigue was high and my times slower than in the past. I hired a USAT-certified triathlon coach in March 2014 who taught me how to swim, modified my diet to Paleo, made me into a 2015 Ironman Lake Placid finisher and trained me in re‐qualifying for and running in my 25th overall marathon in Boston this upcoming April. I’m in the best shape physically and mentally of my life due to triathlon, as well as gaining new friendships in training with others who have similar aspirations.
For the sake of my mental health, I needed variety in what I did. Swimming has calmed my anxiety by teaching me how to breathe. Cycling served as an escape, far away from the problems. Running allowed me to explore off the beaten trail. My secret to success has been to make it fun, and to not schedule your life so much. I don't schedule which days I train a certain discipline; I ask what my body and mind want for the day. That's the beauty of triathlon: You've got three goals to achieve. And remember, you're training to play harder, so go play. Go snorkeling, climb a mountain, go backpacking. It's about a balance of work and play.
I fell into triathlon by accident shortly after getting my fist job. As an overweight 30-something I had been looking into cycling as a way to get back in shape. I found a coworker who was selling a tri bike at a reasonable price. Despite it not being the road bike I was looking for, I decided to buy it. As I began riding and got fit, I thought to myself "I have a tri bike, I might as well try a triathlon." After my first race, I finished a modest 55th out of 309 competitors. However from that moment on, my competitive fire had been ignited. I started setting personal goals, the most ambitious of which was to qualify for the national championships.
With such lofty goals I realized I needed to optimize every aspect of my fitness. Among other things, I started eating more fruits and vegetables. I cut out MOST fast food (after all who can go completely without pizza). I switched to whole wheat. I would go to bed at 9 p.m. so that I could get enough rest before my 5 a.m. workouts. Thirty-five pounds later and healthier than I've ever been, I raced at nationals.
My journey in triathlon began in 2000 as an out of shape graduate student. Determined to change the trajectory of my declining fitness, I registered for a sprint triathlon, won the first-timer division, and was immediately hooked. Now at 49 years of age, I have completed over 100 races (including 12 Ironmans), consistently vie for the podium, and am in the fittest condition of my life. I will turn 50 in December and am proud to say I am looking forward to it! How cool is it to be turning a half-century old and be more fit than ever?
Along the way, my triathlon journey has led to many lessons that can be applied to all aspects of life. Some of the skills that translate to success across the board are dedication, ability to prioritize and maximize usage of time (in work and training) and an overall balanced perspective on life in general. My biggest secret to success in triathlon has been to incorporate training as a non-negotiable part of my daily schedule. It is like any other calendar appointment and I treat it with as much priority as anything else. It is a simple concept but it is key.
Four years ago, I decided to try to get into better shape by running. All started well until my back gave out. I wasn’t training properly and had to go to physical therapy. I decided to make changes: do core exercises regularly, eat better and start swimming. The exercises and healthy eating made me stronger, but the swimming changed my life—at first I couldn't even swim 50 yards, but I took lessons and worked at it. I kept on pushing myself and eventually completed a 1-mile open water swim.
Swimming gave me the courage to run again. I was once a New York City bike messenger and incorporated brick training to prepare my body. I started with short distances and eventually decided to try my first triathlon June of 2015. After finishing, I was hooked and did four more, including my first Olympic distance. My confidence went through the roof.
At work I became more productive by setting goals like in my training. At home, I challenged my kids to work their hardest. I was no longer shy and went out with friends more. I really started to live life to its fullest.
I plan to do seven triathlons in 2016 including my first half Ironman! A friend of mine said that’s crazy… sounds impossible. I thought that he sounded like the old me and smiled.
Two years I ago I had to have surgery to repair a fully torn ACL and an 80% bucket tear of my meniscus. After the surgery happened I suffered a major infection and as a result had to wear a fanny pack with a portable IV unit 24/7. The pain got so bad that I had to keep a bottle beside me as I could not even walk to the bathroom. It was the lowest point of my life and the only thing that kept me going was the goal of being at the finish line of the Calgary half Ironman a year later.
The surgery was completed in March and that summer I ballooned to 225 pounds. A lot of this was because of the inability to exercise but there was also a component of feeling sorry for myself.
Fast forward to a year later, and I finished the race in 5:06 weighing 202 pounds and in the best shape of my life. As a result I have signed up for Ironman Canada and continue to use triathlon to keep me healthy and also as a role model for my kids.
Growing up, I would never have been considered athletic. In fact I was plagued with a heart condition that made it difficult to exert myself during physical activities. When I was 13, I underwent corrective open heart surgery. Fortunately from that point I was able to carry on normal activities, however I was left with a large scar on my chest, one that I have been very insecure and embarrassed of ever since. For years I did everything I could to hide my scar, due to my embedded fear of feeling different. I was rarely seen without a shirt on and eventually stopped taking care of my body entirely.
Finally in my late 20s as part of a New Year’s resolution, I took up running, which eventually lead me into triathlon. I started to adopt a healthier approach to eating, focusing on nutrient dense fruits and vegetables, and made the bulk of my meals in a Vitamix. After years of hard work and training I lost over 60 pounds, but mostly I managed to gain back a lot of the self confidence I lacked most of my life, largely in part to triathlon.
In early 2013 I took up the sport of triathlon after not exercising at all for the previous 20 years and having suffered minor depression for several years. Since then, I have changed my eating habits, cut out soda and have completely changed my life. I live for the sport now. It has morphed me into an ATHLETE and a happy person that has lost 40 pounds. The camaraderie that exists within the triathlon community is amazing. I love the internal struggle in reaching new distances and conquering previous PRs. I run for fun, bike for pleasure and I swim for enjoyment. I am a triathlete.
My name is Saul Guznay. I have been involved with athletics from a young age, however it wasn’t until my first multisport race in 2010 that I truly saw what I was capable of. The lifestyle has given me so much outside of just the aesthetics. As a personal trainer since 2008, my clients would’ve thought that I was full of confidence and nothing could harm me. That was the farthest thing from the truth. Being part of the triathlon lifestyle has helped me get over deep depression, and even given me confidence to open up to my parents about being sexually molested as a child. The sport has helped empower me to know that no matter what has happened to you, there is always a way out of it, as long as you find the right outlet. I didn’t turn to meds or even expensive therapy. Whenever I needed a boost, I would look at the wall with my finisher medals and realize there is always more. Without multisport, I would be a very different person.
I was so busy building a career, preparing myself for my professional goals and taking care of my loved ones that I forgot my own health. I realized that self- and love-care was as important as taking care of others; it is part of a healthy life balance. I decided to take a 180-degree turn and become not just thin (I was 100 pounds overweight), but become the fittest I could be. I had always wondered why all of these fit people love what they do so much, and I thought ‘they must be really good at it.’ I took on the sport of triathlon because of the balance of a whole body conditioning in comparison with other sports where certain parts are mainly used. I struggled so hard to swim even one lap at the pool, had never run before, and only biked as a kid. I never ever give up on trying to change my self into the type of person I would like to meet one day. My secret has always been self-visualization and writing my own goals with measurable numbers to hit. It keeps me focused and hungry for more. I firmly believe if you believe something to your core it will become a reality sooner or later.
Living the triathlete lifestyle has given me more than just a healthy body; it has allowed me to be a role model to today’s youth. I am a high school swim coach and an age-group coach for a club swim team. As a competitive person, after first entering a sprint triathlon, I instantly got the fire burning to get faster. I found that I could get the most benefit from improving my diet. I was able to drop 20 pounds fairly quickly just by cleaning up the diet and eliminating “liquid” calories such as fruit juice, milk and soda.
After my newfound success in triathlon, many of the kids that I coached in swimming became very interested in the sport. I spearheaded a kids’ triathlon for our club team as a fundraising event, which really introduced the sport to the younger generation. With the growing obesity epidemic, I have a unique opportunity as a coach to impact the youth of today. The sport of triathlon has given me the chance to not only live a healthy lifestyle, but it has allowed me to give back to my community by teaching kids how to stay healthy throughout life.
My name is Yorlliry “George” Moreno; I’m Venezuelan born, but Bluffton S.C.-raised. Growing up, I loved doing sports; in fact, I played almost all of them. Having a weight issue, I could never find the confidence in myself to “feel” better or “become” a better athlete. My father, who has done triathlons his whole life, inspired me to just consider the sport. Already being a swimmer, I decided to join the bandwagon when I was 15 years old. After that moment, my true passion became the love of the sport.
I sacrificed many things in life to one day achieve my true goal, which was to become a professional triathlete. I owe many things to the sport, including my health and self-confidence, so my way of giving back is to become some sort of inspirational role model to those who need one. I started from the very bottom of the totem pole, but refused to let challenges get in my way! The sport provided me with self-discipline, motivation and gratitude that to this day I continue on the same path I paved 10 years ago. I hope to inspire and continue to be inspired.