Ten Questions With…Professional Triathlete Richie Cunningham

When folks hear the name Richie Cunningham, lots of non-triathletes immediately think of the fictional character from the 1970’s TV series “Happy Days”.  Richie, the triathlete, is a professional triathlete who originally hails from Australia.  He’s a prolific racer, and this season ranks among his best seasons in the past several years.  Just this year, Richie logged back-to-back victories at Rev3 Quassy and Rev3 Portland.  He’s also notched a bunch of podium spots…he’s been on the podium in five of eight races so far in 2012.

More than just a stellar athlete, Richie is a great ambassador for triathlon in general and Rev3 specifically.  He’s well on his way towards winning the 2012 Rev3 series and the ultimate prize of $25,000.  Plus he raises chickens. 

So kick back, grab your favorite hydration beverage and meet Richie.  He’s the focus of this week’s “Ten Questions With….”


Credit: Revolution 3

TriMadness:  For purposes of background, you grew up in Australia, spent 10 years in Germany, and now live in the US.  Tell us about the part of your career in Germany – what kind of racing were you doing, how did you like living in Europe, and what ultimately compelled you to move to the US?

Richie Cunningham:  I was mostly doing Olympic distance ITU racing while I lived in Germany. The training in Germany was really good. I lived right across the street from the pool, had miles of trails to run in and good riding.  I moved to the US because it was were the future of racing was. I moved up to 70.3 and it seemed like a good time. I also started dating my now wife, who was living in Boston at the time, so that sped up the move.

TM:  You race quite a bit…over the past several years you have averaged 14-17 races, and you seem to race anything from Olympic distance to half-iron distance.  It seems that the half-iron distance is your favorite distance though.  What about that distance “clicks” for you?

RC:  I think it’s just where my talent lies. I enjoy the training for it the most too.

TM:  You’ve raced quite a few (12) Rev3 races over the past three years, and have a really solid track record at their races (25% on the podium, with two victories).  The fields at Rev3 races are generally loaded.  Is there something about these races that brings out the best in you?

RC:  Rev3 races are usually on challenging, hilly courses and that suits me well. I also just really enjoy the Rev3 race experience. They really take good care of the pros and pick nice courses.

TM:  You just won the Rev3 race in Portland in a relatively close contest.  Walk us through your strategy on the run when you realized that Jesse Thomas was gaining ground on you.

RC:  My run strategy actually started at the end of the bike. I saw that Jesse was too close to me and I really didn’t want to start the run with him so I hammered the last 10k of the bike to add a bit more lead. In the last few miles I saw that he was close, so I put in a hard mile hoping that would be enough to keep him from catching me. Then I just tried to maintain my pace until the end. It was a tough race.

TM:  Looks like you have a pretty commanding lead in the Rev3 Championship Series.  Are you a lock for the $25,000 prize at the end of the year?

RC:  It’s hard to do all the math to figure it. I am hoping that I can have solid races in the rest of the series and hold the lead, but Jesse and Victor could still take it from me.

Credit: Revolution 3

TM:  You’ve been pretty vocal about the whole Lance Armstrong/USADA thing.  Do you think that USADA’s current testing process is optimal?  What changes would you make?

RC:  No, I think everyone should be on the blood passport system and blood should be stored for testing any time in the future.

TM:  What is the testing process like?  How frequently are you tested – every race, randomly, monthly?

RC:  I’m tested about 2-3 times a year – usually just urine.  I’m tested occasionally at races – usually when I am on the podium. I am also in the USADA testing pool, so they can come find me any time for a blood/urine test.

TM:  Do you think that triathlon in general is a “clean” sport?  Is there ever any talk amongst the pros that “so and so” must be juicing because of his/her performance, improvement, etc?

RC:  Yes, in general I think it’s a relatively clean sport. It’s still a young sport, so I think that helps. As pros, we do like to bitch about who we think might be doping. Hopefully we’re wrong.

TM:  OK…on to easier an easier topic.  I read recently that you and your wife raise chickens.  Tell us about them.

RC:  We got chickens last December. We have 6 of them (all girls) and named them after our friends – Joe, Pat, Alan (my brother), Terra, Chris, and Edwina.  Joe is the noisy but friendly one. I though that fit Joe Gambles well. Pat (Evoe) is an easy going, nice chicken. Alan is the fat one, so I had to name her after my brother. Terra takes care of the eggs, so we named her after Terra Castro, Chris has the tightest feathers – Chris Legh likes to wear tight shirts… and Edwina is named after our friend Mary Edwina Miller. She got to pick her chicken.

TM: How often do people confuse you with the Richie Cunningham from the “Happy Days” TV show?

RC:  I used to get jokes all the time, but now the show is getting older and a lot more people have never seen Happy Days.

Check out Richie’s website here.  You can also follow him on Twitter.


Ten Questions With….Professional Triathlete Sara McLarty

If you weren’t around this blog in 2010 and 2011, I ran a really popular series that I affectionately called “Ten Questions With…”  This interview series included interviews with some of the top professional triathletes, a bunch of age groupers, and some industry folks (see here for the full list).  I totally enjoyed doing the interviews, and got to interact with some of the coolest folks around.

Well….I’ve decided to bring the series back.

And to kick off the series with a bang, I reached out to professional triathlete Sara McLarty.  Sara lives and trains in Clermont, FL – home to the National Training Center and one of the more popular independent iron-distance races in the Southeast.  She grew up swimming, and was an All-American at the University of Florida (go Gators!).

I could go on and on…..but why don’t we just get to the actual interview?  So here we go…..Ten Questions with Professional Triathlete Sara McLarty:


Professional Triathlete Sara McLarty

TriMadness:  So congratulations on a solid race at St. Anthony’s last weekend.  You had an amazing swim and came out of the water in 19:10.  How did you feel about your race, in general?

Sara McLarty:  Thanks, but it was a terrible result for me and I’m not happy at all. However, I am going up to Knoxville this weekend for the rev3 race and hoping for a better race!

TM:  Like so many professional triathletes, you have a massive swimming background.  Is your typical race strategy to go out and try to bury folks on the swim?

SM:  Yes, now that I am competing mainly in non-drafting races, the goal is to go our hard in the swim to capitalize on my strength. Previously, in draft-legal races (Olympic style) it was futile to swim off the front so I would work together with other strong swimmers to build a lead on the bike. 

TM:  You were an all-American swimmer at the University of Florida and swam in the 2004 Olympic trials.  How would you compare & contrast the swim trials in ’04 with the process that USAT is using to build out the 2012 tri team?

SM:  Swimming is a much older sport and as a result, the Olympic trials process has been perfected. It is also a very controlled environment (pool, lane lines, etc) while triathlons vary from one race to another with many other elements (crashes, flat tires, hills, etc). I dont think any country has their triathlon Olympic trials completely perfected…and the USA is a perfect example of that!

TM:  You grew up in DeLand, FL, not terribly far from Daytona Beach and the Atlantic Ocean.  Were you a beach bum as a kid?

SM:  To be honest,  no. I was not a beach bum because I’d already spend 10-15 hours in the pool during the week and had no desire to be anywhere near water when I wasn’t training. However, on the rare occasion that we had swim practice at the beach, I was thrilled!

TM:  Seems like even from a young age, you were competing in something.  Swimming.  Cross Country.  Track.  Triathlon.  Moreover, all of this was a family affair.  Your brother is a heck of an athlete in his own right, your mother swims, your father cycled.  Was there ever an element of competing against each other growing up?

SM:  Absolutely! I remember the race that I first beat my mom, and I remember the race that Dustin beat me for the first time! But it made for a great training environment because we did everything together.

TM:  I read that your family is a group of daredevils, so to speak.  Your father was a pilot for skydivers, and was a skydiver himself.  Did you get any of those daredevil genes?

SM:  I like to call it the ‘adventure bug’ and yes, I have it! I compete in adventure races in the off season, I’ve been hang gliding, zip lining, hot air balloon, running through alligator infested swamps, swimming with dolphins, etc. My goal is to try everything, especially when I travel for competitions, I try to find something cool in the area to experience.

TM:  Today, you still live in Florida, and work at the National Training Center in Clermont.  Tell us about what it’s like working there.

SM:  I did my first triathlon when I was 7 in Clermont. Almost 20 years later, I moved back to town and bought a house! Small world. It’s a great training location (in the winter…it gets a bit rough in the summer) and more and ore pro triathletes are moving to the area…so it’s easy to find training partners! Working at the NTC has been a great experience, I’m coaching the masters swimming team 3 mornings a week, and working one-on-one with people to improve their swim technique and efficiency.

TM:  A big part of your life is spent on coaching others to become a better swimmer.  If you were to give one swim tip to triathletes, what would it be?

SM:  Relax and stop over thinking. That is the main difference between and adult trying to learn how to see and a child. The child will just get in the water and listen to their body to find the simplest and easiest way to move thought the water. An adult will try to take all the info they have read, heard, seen, and been told…and try to THINK their way through the water. It doesnt work!

TM:  What’s more important in a swim – gliding & balance or a strong pull?

SM:  Nothing is ‘more important’ than another thing in swimming. The important part is doing it all in a relaxed and efficient way.

TM:  What is your biggest hobby outside of swimming, biking and running?

SM:  Currently, playing board games with my training partners and friends! It’s a great way to stay competitive but laugh and have fun the whole time!

Check out Sara’s website!  Or follow her on Twitter!

Ten Questions With…Professional Triathlete Kelly Williamson

When you look at the landscape of professional triathlon this season, there are a handful of athletes that have had spectacular years.  One athlete, in particular, who has performed exceedingly well is Austin resident Kelly Williamson.  She started off the season with a bang, bagging victories at Rev3 Costa Rica and IM 70.3 Puerto Rico.  Kelly’s season has continued to be strong, with a series of top five finishes, including three second place finishes (IMTX, Muncie 70.3, and Boulder 70.3) and a victory at Buffalo Springs 70.3.

Recently, TriMadness and Kelly sat down and discussed her season, her upcoming race in Kona, and her love of high quality craft beer.

This week’s installment of “Ten Questions With…” is with professional triathlete Kelly Williamson.

credit: LouisBPhotography.com

TM:  Congrats on a stellar season so far this year!  Six races with top two finishes is quite an accomplishment.  What are you most proud of so far?

KW:  Thank you! With regards to this season, probably the 2nd at Ironman Texas. While I knew I was capable of that performance, I would say that it came earlier in my ‘Ironman Career’ than I expected. I am also pretty proud to have put up the consistency I have thus far; given all the things that can happen in a race, that in and of itself is something to be proud of.

TM:  You had a huge race in the Woodlands at IMTX, with a 29 minute PR (9:07 overall).  How satisfying was that race knowing that was only your third Ironman? 

KW:  It was incredibly satisfying! In both my first two Ironmans, I played it fairly conservatively but I felt pretty rough on both of the runs. It was nice to run to my capabilities in Texas. I felt fine immediately post-race then the few hours later, it got very ugly…and I had to go to medical at 7:00 at night and spent almost 2 hours there. That told me I had definitely left it all on the course. The few days after the race, I felt almost like I had to pinch myself to realize I had actually gone a 9:07 on a legit, honest course.  

TM:  You had the fastest marathon split that day at 3:04.  How much faster do you think you can go?  Sub 3 hours?

KW:  I definitely think I can run sub-3! I was pleased with the 3:04, but I wasn’t surprised, given my run training. But it was nice to see a huge drop from my 3:11 in Kona. It showed me that I am on the right track, but I am definitely not content with that time… I know that I need to put up a slightly stronger bike and run under 3 hrs to be a factor, every time I toe the line, at this distance.

credit: LouisBPhotography.com

TM:  How is your focused Kona training going, and what have you done differently from last year?

KW:  The focused Kona training is actually almost coming to an end! I would say I started it back in early July; so the question is appropriate and given that a lot of it is behind me, I can tell you what I have done differently. I’ll first say not too much because when something is working, I see no point in changing too much. That said, now that I have another year of Ironman training under my belt, I know I can push my volumes & paces just a touch more. So, this past few months, I have upped my volume in all three disciplines (just incrementally) and I have also tried to increase my paces running and power efforts on the bike just  a bit more. I am overall a very low volume athlete, but I have looked at last seasons training and tried to bump things up just a bit from then.

TM:  Hot weather seems to agree with you (as evidenced by your wins in Costa Rica, San Juan and Buffalo Springs, plus your 2nd place at IMTX).  Did you alter your training to help you get ready for Kona, or just continue to train in Texas? 

KW:  My husband Derick and I just got back from about 6 weeks out in Salida, Colorado. We did this last season as well; we have had one of the hottest summers on record in Austin, and to do all of the Ironman training here is do-able but it is so taxing physically on the body. So, the time in CO is nice because the temps are cooler, we are at 7,000 ft, and the riding is unbelievable. I had Poncha Pass right out my door (a 7 mile climb to 9,000 ft) and Cottonwood Pass was about 30 miles away (an almost 20 mile climb up to 12,000 ft). It is nice for a change of scenery, change of environment, and our dog Amico (Autralian Cattle Dog) is MUCH happier out there; every day ends with a leg soak and a play with the dog in the Arkansas River! But, it is good to be back in Austin for a few weeks to adapt once again to the heat.

TM:  You were a high school and college swimmer.  Seems like there’s a pretty high correlation in pro triathlon between prior swim experience and success.  Why do you think that is?

KW:  That’s a good question. I know when I finished with collegiate swimming, I was just not ready to be ‘done’ being an athlete; I still loved to swim and loved to compete. I had always enjoyed running; and a running injury lead to me jumping on a spin bike; which led to getting a road bike. I think that swimmers learn very well how to suffer, and we also learn how to deal well with boredom; monotonous, repetitive activity (read: following a black line back and forth for hours on end). Swimmers have huge aerobic engines, so they naturally are talented athletes, but they get into triathlon and realize that either the bike or the run usually does not come easily; for me, it was the running. I think you often see good backstrokers and breaststrokers are strong cyclists due to their leg strength. In any case, I think the change of pace and the new challenge is inviting; and we also can handle the first leg of a triathlon without any problem, something that many struggle with. The draw for me also was that it was an open, variable environment; swimming is so controlled. I loved how there were unpredictable, variable elements to deal with in this sport vs. in swimming.

credit: Randy Sadler

TM:  Racing is hard, especially when you’re trying to gut out the last few miles on a run.  How do you handle those times when you’re really suffering?

KW:  As messed up as it sounds, those are the times I really thrive on. The physical part is just training; it is keeping healthy, challenging yourself, and doing the work. The mental part is to me what makes a good athlete a truly great athlete. It comes down to who can suffer the most, who can play their cards right… and it is those most challenging, lowest moments when we really find out what we are made of. That’s the good stuff right there. What gets me through those times? My head.. I think things like “This is nothing compared to all the hours you have spent training.” or “One mile at a time.” or “Race for those who can’t.” Not to sound cliche, those mantras can do wonders. They can also keep your head occupied and detract from you feeling sorry for yourself. I know that no matter how badly it hurts, I have chosen this path, and I am damn lucky to be out there doing it. I cannot stand whiners or excuse-makers, so I just make the best of the situation; and the pain will end, eventually!

TM:  What do you enjoy most about your job of being a professional triathlete?

KW:  It’s crazy, but I love that I feel like I am still doing what I was doing 15 years ago and that is ‘being an athlete’. I have never had a typical desk job, and I would be OK if I never did. I truly love being active…there are very few times I have ever had to really drag myself out the door to do a workout. It hasn’t been easy and success has far from come overnight for me, but to know that I get to wake up each day and challenge myself and my body in various ways is so exciting. I love finding new ‘limits’ to my body each day. And a cool part about being a professional and seeing more success is, I feel like I have been able to inspire a few others along the way. I think that my journey is a bit different in that it’s been a long one! I got my pro card in 2002. I have had many ups and downs, but I have stuck with it and I am so glad that I have.

TM:  What do you like to do when you’re not training or racing?  Do you have any hobbies?

KW:  I coach a handful of athletes, so that keeps me occupied outside of training. I also love to write, and take any chance I can do to article contributions, personal blogging, etc. I help out at a mens homeless shelter in downtown Austin when I can find the time; moreso in the winter months and much less during race season, unfortunately. I really try to keep a good ‘life balance’ going… once I finish a workout, I say ‘that was good’ or ‘eh not so good’, but I try to move on and focus on the next thing happening; whether that is another session later in the day or if I am done, I enjoy putting my feet up and not thinking about triathlon; reading a book or catching up with friends. I love to ski (snow..downhill…) but there’s not too much of that happening in Texas.

TM:  I read an interview you gave to Herb Krabel at Slowtwitch back in 2010 that you would love to have a microbrewery as one of your sponsors.  Any luck with that yet?

KW:  No luck yet!! We live about 1/2 mile away from 512 Brewing so that would be a lovely sponsor. I am a big fan of Stone Brewing, and lately Oskar Blues…Mama’s Little Yella Pils… Really any micro-brew… ‘good beer’ as I call it. If any makers of ‘good beer’ out there are looking to plaster their logo on a professional triathlete, I am more than willing to step up to the plate and help them out. I literally end most days with a good beer while I make dinner. Signifies the ‘end of day’ to me, time to relax and enjoy the evening. And, from what I have read hops have an anti-inflammatory effect; so I feel it benefits my training, too. 🙂

Ten Questions With…Age Group Triathlete Chris Madden

The recent focus of our ongoing “Ten Questions With…” series has been on age-group triathetes – the bread and butter of our sport.  99.9% of the folks that do triathlon are age-groupers.  Everyday folks like you and me.  They have jobs, families, other committments.

Chris Madden is an age-grouper from Florida.  He’s only been involved in triathlon for a handful of years, but has realized some real success already.  He is a smoking fast runner, but claims the bike as his specialty.  His virgin attempt at Ironman netted a super fast sub-eleven hour result.

 And so, hold on for this week’s version of Ten Questions With…Age Group Triathlete Chris Madden….


Age Group Triathlete Chris Madden exiting the water

TM:  What is your “sports background”?  Did you play any sports as a kid?

CM:  Believe it or not and contrary to most people that enter the sport of Triathlon I have no sports background at all.  Prior to picking up running 4 years ago the last time I ran one mile was in a 6th grade physical education fitness test.  That mile felt like the longest 10 minutes of my early life.  Team sports never attracted me as a kid and my primary focus was partying with friends through my high school years.  In my early 20’s I enjoyed lifting weights, but spending hour after hour in the same gym everyday got old really quick. 

TM:  Aside from your short stint in weight lifting, what prompted you to leave your sedentary life behind and take up endurance sports?

CM:  I would have to say it all began as part of recovery from motorcycle accident my wife and I were involved in June 2005.  We were struck by a car making a left turn resulting in injuries that required both us having titanium plates and screws inserted to put our bodies back together.   After a year of surgeries on my ankle, leg and shoulder followed by another year of physical therapy I began taking nightly walks.  Those walks soon turned into jogging from light pole to light pole then on to one and two miles runs.  Once I worked my way up to 3 miles I signed up for my first 5k road race and finished in 21 min and 16 seconds.  People kept telling me that was a pretty decent time.  I had no idea at the time what was decent.  From then on I was bitten.  I began to train harder and longer and within a year I completed my first marathon. I’m constantly trying to find that first timers endorphin rush and find great pleasure in tackling the next big obstacle and distance.  Endurance sports are highly therapeutic.  It is sad to see so many MD’s push pills for stress/anxiety related ailments.  A little sweat can cure most anything. 

TM:  When did you pick up triathlon, and what was your motivation to do so?

CM:  I picked up triathlon in mid 2008.  My only real motivation at that point was to offset running with other ways to stay active.  A friend told me about a local sprint race and the rest is history.  I have a very addictive personality and anyone close to the sport will tell you that Triathlon is addictive.  I remember how nervous I was doing my first sprint.   I still get butterflies in my stomach before each race today, but I love hearing the gun go off,  because from that point on there is no turning back.  All you can do is channel all that nervous energy into giving it your all.

TM:  You’ve raced each of the race distances, with some pretty impressive PR’s.  (1:05 sprint, 2:28 Oly, 5:08 70.3, and 10:47 IM).  What is your favorite race distance and why?

CM:  I’m leaning more towards 70.3 and Ironman distances.  While Sprints and Olympics and are quick and leave ample time for post race celebrations (drinking beer and indulging at Five Guys), the longer distances force you to pace yourself and slow down.  By doing so you take  more of the event in, enjoying it and have a chance to reflect on the all the reasons you love to compete. 

TM:  Swim.  Bike.  Or Run.  If you had a free day, which would you pick first? 

CM:  Bike, it’s my strongest discipline.  If I were willing to give as much on the run and swim as I do on the bike I’d be a much more rounded athlete. 

TM:  What are you most proud of thus far in your triathlon career?

CM:  I would probably have to say completing my first Ironman distance race.  I mean it is the ultimate distance in the sport.  Completing the event under my goal time and with my family by my side for support and encouragement makes it by far my proudest moment.  

TM:  What does an average training week look like for you ?

CM:  It all depends on the next distance race I’m training for.   Sometimes I follow a strict plan and sometimes I just try to stay active.  I have found that adhering to a strict step-cycle/periodization plan can reap big performance gains.  However, at the same time I think over analyzing and over thinking your plan can interfere with your passion for the sport.  Bottom line, you do it because you like/love it.   I am not nor will I ever be a pro so I try not to take it too seriously and just have fun with it.  That said, I usually include one “off day” a week.  The rest of the week includes 1 to 2 workouts a day.  Speed and specificity on weekdays and long/endurance workouts on the weekends.  During my Ironman training I was at it 16-20 hours week during peak weeks.  As far as food goes, I don’t deprive myself of much, but in general, I try to make healthy choices.  

TM:  Have you made any big “rookie” mistakes or had any big embarrassing moments in this sport?  

CM:  Well a couple…    On one cold 28 degree morning (that is cold for us Floridians) I was up early and off to my masters swim practice at 5:30 AM.  I get to practice at the recreation center which consists of a heated outdoor pool and like the other swimmers I’m frantically undressing, ready to plunge into the 82 degree water.  As I begin to pull down my sweats I realize something is drastically wrong.  On occasion I forget my goggles sometimes my towel, but on this morning the cold rush on my you know what clued me into the fact that I forgot a much more critical piece of gear.  You guessed it, my suit.  Luckily no one else saw my idiotic mistake and I slipped out of practice unnoticed.  I only did that once.  Another notable moment, I was competing in the 2010 USAT Age Group National Championship, as I was running out of T2 trying to adjust my garmin watch I wasn’t paying attention and shouldered some poor woman so hard I knocked her down.  I felt like such a tool because I didn’t even stop.  I looked for her, with no luck, after the race to apologize.  

TM:  Do you have a “bucket list” of dream races or race locations that you’d like to cross off?  If so, what/where would those be?

CM:  Well of course to race Kona World Championships one day – Probably have to be by lotto.  Ironman St Croix 70.3.  Alcatraz.  Maybe something in Africa or South America.   

TM:  What does the rest of this season look like for you?

CM:  I have been taking it pretty easy so far this year.  Mostly Sprints and Olympic distance races.  The rest of the season holds two more local races.  Another Olympic and my first non-WTC sanctioned 70.3, The Atlantic Coast Triathlon.  I’m looking forward to cooler weather and training for this winters marathons. 

Ten Questions With…Rev3 Race Director Eric Opdyke

As you no doubt have read in myriad online posts, message boards, or in hard-copy publications, the Revolution 3 triathlon series has received significant positive feedback from age-groupers and professionals alike.

Rev3 held its inaugural race at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, CT in June 2009. That race was heralded as a challenging course, a superb pro-race, and a spectacular race experience. Rev3 became a series in 2010 with the addition of races in Knoxville, TN (an Olympic distance and a half iron distance, the “Half Rev”) and at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, OH (both a Half Rev and a Full Rev). Additionally, Rev3 offered Aqua-Bike races and kids’ races to really make the Rev weekend a true family experience.

In 2011, the Rev3 race series will expand into two new venues. In February, Rev3 will host its first international races, in Costa Rica. The series will conclude the 2011 series with an Olympic Rev and Half Rev races in picturesque Anderson, SC.

It’s hard to imagine the pre-work and logistics that go into staging any triathlon race, let alone a premier race experience such as Rev3. Recently, Tri Madness sat down with Eric Opdyke, Rev3’s race director, to discuss race planning, the Rev3 series, and what keeps him up at night.

To learn more about Rev3 Triathlon, their 2011 race series, and to register for one of their events, check out their website here.

TM: How did you get into the business of being a race director? How did you get involved with Rev3?

EO: I joined the sport as an athlete in 2004 and got involved in the organizing committee of a local sprint tri for charity in my home area in 2005. I enjoyed the “behind the scenes” aspect of organizing the race and became the race director of that race the following year and have been involved since. When Rev3 started planning their first race in CT, we got in touch with each other through a mutual contact and I offered to help out. I was immediately intrigued with the concept and the potential so I’ve been on the team since the beginning.

TM: Could you describe of how you pick the route of a race in a particular city?

EO: Too many factors to list here but we look for a safe course, a scenic course, challenging, good roads, etc. We have to work closely with the local officials and law enforcement to determine the least amount of disruption to the local residents, how many intersections need to be closed down and many, many other factors. Because I’ve also been a triathlete, I think like a triathlete when designing and planning the courses. I spend a lot of time trying to find the best course for the athletes.

TM: Rev3 held races in three locations in 2009 (Knoxville, Quassy, and Cedar Point). In your opinion, what are the best features of each of those races?

EO: Knoxville has a little bit of everything. The swim venue is great for spectators. The bike is scenic and challenging. The run accesses a great trail system the city of Knoxville has created. All this with the massive University of Tennessee in the background. Quassy has a great small town vibe with an old amusement park as our host venue. The swim is in a beautiful lake. The bike is challenging and showcases the beauty of New England very well. The run course will break you if you went too hard on the bike. It is a very challenging course but a solid finish feels like you earned every mile. Cedar Point is a great venue for athletes and especially families. The host hotel is walking distance to all race activities. Cedar Point is one of the best amusement parks in the world. The course is flat but can be very tough if the winds pick up which is likely.

TM: Rev3 is going international with next February’s race in Costa Rica. How do you approach planning for a non-domestic race? What have you done differently as compared to, say, Quassy?

EO: There are many new factors in this case. Some of the biggest include having to work with Spanish speaking people even though most speak English. Another is the transportation of our race equipment which includes having to ship our supplies in a container on a boat, dealing with customs, duty taxes, etc. Bike transportation is a challenge for many athletes as well.

TM: It seems like the logistics associated with putting on a race are immense. Could you give us a peek into the enormity of what it takes to put on a race?

EO: We have a great team behind us that work extremely hard to setup and take down our equipment. Never mind all the pre-planning involved in lining up suppliers, deliveries, etc. The team starts to arrive a week in advance and begins the preparations for race week. It takes us about 3 full days (15-20 hours per day) to set up for the races and another 2 days to tear it all down and pack it up.

TM: As a triathlete and a race director, what do you think are the core requirements for a race to have to be considered a “great race”?

EO: The race needs to be safe, secure, accurately measured, timed accurately, officiated fairly, among others. I hate lines so I never want anyone waiting in a line for more than a few minutes. This means lots of porto-potties and efficiently run athlete check-in procedures. I have waiting in too many unnecessary lines at triathlons and it drives me crazy. We never want to run out of aid stations supplies so we always overdo it. I also like to add in some unique aspects to the race. We want the race to be remembered for something unique.

TM: How do you balance the demands and needs of professionals against those of age-groupers? In what ways do they have different expectations of a race director?

EO: They are equally important but they aren’t too different. Some of the USAT rules are different for pros and it always requires clarification and is confusing, although its out of my control. We try to find local homestays for some of the pros and we payout their prize purse during the awards ceremony.

TM: Triathlete Magazine ranked Rev3 races extremely favorably earlier this year in an article about favorite races, most anticipated races, etc. That seems like really high praise for a relatively new race series. How did you react when you heard the news?

EO: We are extremely blessed to have any praise and I’m thankful for all the feedback we get. As much as we like the positive comments and like to hear about athlete’s great experiences, we encourage our athletes to continue to tell us how we can improve. We need to continue to get better and set an exceptional standard.

TM: What keeps you awake on the night before a race?

EO: What doesn’t? Usually, its the work in preparing for race day that keeps me up all night with no or very little sleep. Other than that its just the million things that need to happen in a concerted effort and my desire for perfection.

TM: There’s lots of chatter on various message boards about Rev3. People are talking about future race venues, a potential Rev3 championship, how Rev3 can continue to attract top professionals. Can you give any insight into what triathletes can expect from Rev3 as we look into 2011 and beyond?

EO: Its basics. We believe we have a strong model so we want to continue to grow at a controlled rate, continue to improve, and give athletes what they want.