A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Destination Race in 2014? Go for it!

One of the things I'm always grateful for is the relative ease in which we can travel the world these days. And "vacationing" is a part of that experience. It's just getting out of the same old normal daily routine to explore a part of the world that you've never been too.

Couple that with running and triathlon races, and you can get truly epic trips that you won't ever forget.

Ironman in the UK.

Local races are fine...for "B" races, in my opinion. They are good to get out of the house and test yourself up against the local competition and see how you fare. It's also a great weekend stress reliever and to be with a group of friends that share the same experiences.

"A" races, on the other hand, are a bit different. Local competition is fine, but if you are gearing up to be in the best shape of your life, a larger scope is needed.

I've always loved to test myself against the national competition, and even the international competition, in these "A" races. Being the big fish in a small pond is one thing, but measuring yourself up against the nation and the world? Priceless.

And those "A" races come with an added perk...the ability to get away from your local area and travel to a new area to explore. Ever since I was a hardcore triathlete back in the 90's, the two were forever linked.

My first Ironman race in 1996 was in British Columbia, Canada. Penticton was such a different town than New York City, I was almost overcome with culture shock.

And even though I haven't been to Penticton since 2000, I still hold that town close to my heart.

Ever since then, I've been all over the country to do my "A" races. Half Ironman races in Texas, Florida, California, Maryland, etc. I really can't count them off the top of my head.

The Ironman race in New Zealand in 1999 stands out also. That is a vacation that I will never forget. Someday I would like to go back to New Zealand again, but I'll need a race to do down there so that I can give myself an excuse to go!

My finish at Ironman New Zealand in 1999. More lasting memories than in local races.


And most recently, the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning allowed me to re-visit the beautiful Sierra Nevadas (I did the California Death Ride down there about 15 years ago), visit the High Rockies of Colorado (that is such a fantastic state if you're an outdoors type of person), and visit beautiful Utah for the first time in my life.

In other words, the "getting away" factor of these "A" races is the key to fond memories that I can never forget.

There were some times in my athletic career that I tried to make a local race an "A" race. To this date I couldn't really build up the excitement as compared to preparing for a race in a far off land.

Two years ago, they brought the Ironman to NYC for one year. I just couldn't generate any interest at all!

Even Ironman Lake Placid, which is 5 hours away, doesn't generate much interest. But when they created an Ironman at Mont Tremblant in Canada, I was salivating!

And so, as this year's plans are settling into place, I have one significant lottery left to go before I finalize my schedule (drawing on January 15). And that is the fate of my entry into UTMB in Europe, which is definitely what I would love to get in to. Europe...the last time I was there was about 10 years ago and would love to go there again.

And even if I don't get in to UTMB this year, I have a whole list of "A" races that will do for this year...

...and the entire list doesn't even involve a race in the local area.

The list involves races in Utah, Idaho, Alberta, British Columbia, and Italy. All get-away races. No "A" races in New York, New Jersey, or the surrounding area.

The Tor des Geants in Italy. If you want lasting memories, I'll bet this race will give them to you!

And I love it! To all you athletes out there, I know the money might be tight, or your schedule might not allow much vacation time during the year, but you do need to make sure you enjoy your life, and these running and triathlon vacations are definitely the way to go. Staying local year after year can be quite boring to say the least.

Just one race outside the area each year will definitely reinvigorate your passion for the sport. You can still do the local races, but get out there and explore! You only have one life, and it's a pretty big planet. Get out there!

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