An Interview with Dark Mark, Triathlon’s #1 Humorist

Image by Huub Design

Dark Mark is hands down the best triathlon humorist in the universe. His popularity grew out of a humble twitter account that exploded when The Real Starky took him under his wing. Today Mark is co-host, writer, and head researcher for the popular TRS Radio podcast. Though he would be embarrassed to admit it, Mark is also an accomplished age group triathlete and a good enough cyclist that Macca once mistook him for a pro.

In honor of Mark’s unique brand of humor the “Dark Mark” was created on the TRS Forum and it is used to distinguish posts that are funny, gross, dark, or otherwise worthy of more distinction than a simple “Like” can provide. His greatest accomplishment is a toss-up between “Wetsuit Beer Mile World Record holder” and being pro triathlete Jessica Jones Meyers’ boyfriend.

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James: On your twitter profile you self-identify as an “Internet User.” Which of these statements best describes your “use” of the internet?

  1. His beard is so thick because he uses testosterone.
  2. He used to be cooler before I knew his last name.
  3. Jessica’s boyfriend is just using her to gain access to the upper echelons of pro triathlon.
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Dark Mark sporting a thick stache and some pretty impressive biceps

Dark Mark: Both 2 and 3 are fairly accurate. I think there was great mystery behind my actual identity for a while and I think it helped propel me to the major star I am today, though I will be the first to admit that my star is fading quickly. I think the idea of “The Stig” on the show Top Gear is a good analogy: He was so cool and mysterious, hiding behind his cool and mysterious helmet, until they finally revealed his true identity and anyone could just go on the internet and look up his race results and realize he is just some shitty age group athlete without a LinkdIn account. My real name is Mark Fretta if you want to look me up.

It is true that I am dating Jess because it is good for ratings and adds credibility to the show, but I am also dating her for her mind, spirit, looks, and sense of humor. Also her body.

The first one doesn’t make any sense. I have been shaving since the 4th grade.

James: Do you think that that hurts you in a race? I imagine you shaving on the beach right before the swim, and then coming out of the water looking like a dirty hipster.

Dark Mark: I come out of the water with my beard and horn rimmed glasses and jump onto my steel fixie and I don’t want to finish this joke next question.

James: You have one of the top 50 most successful twitter accounts devoted to triathlon humor. Does it ever get to your head?

Dark Mark: Top 50? I am at least top 20. But serious answer?…No. Does it get into my head? Yes.

I never thought that I would be in the position where I am now, where I can publicly call out things and people that need attention in triathlon and actually have an audience. Of course, I have made some mis-steps here and there (see: lottery tweet, very esoteric joke about HR Giger and the Ceepo Viper), and if I stop to think about all of it, it can be a bit overwhelming.

James: How so?

Dark Mark: 1 year ago I was tweeting dick jokes to nobody in particular and today I have Jan Frodeno and Mirinda Carfrae reading my tweets. I have been blocked by some very distinguished athletes. I have also been blocked by Caroline Gregory.

James: Was being blocked something that you could pin to a specific tweet?

Dark Mark: To her? I made fun of the fact that she has 20,000 followers but nobody knows who she is. In contrast, I have 3,700 followers and I am on the brink of being verified by Twitter. I got blocked by Mario Cipollini because I wrote a tweet about something like “Team time trials are just gang bangs against the clock” and asked him if that tweet “spoke” to him. I thought it was funny knowing his cycling background and penchant for buggery, but I guess his sense of humor is about as good as his sense of fashion. I was preemptively blocked by Pete Jacobs because I know Ben. Training Mask blocked me because they wanted to murder me. There are others but those are my favorites.

James: Are you surprised by how far-reaching your Twitter account has become?

Dark Mark: I once tweeted about a certain disgraced cyclist, the lack of testing at an event he participated in, and the rumor that he had flown a certain CEO -who could dictate drug testing at said event- to a different race on his private jet (I am not going to say who this disgraced cyclist with a private jet is. Let’s just keep that a mystery). I then received angry messages from his assistant while the disgraced cyclist himself texted a mutual friend of ours regarding this tweet. That is absolutely crazy to me, but I love this sport and the fact that I have a platform to help enact some change or provoke thought makes it very much worth it. Plus I have so many more dick jokes inside of me.

James: Let’s have one.

Dark Mark: That was it I think.

James: Touché. Do you have any words of advice for up-and-coming triathlon humorists?

Dark Mark: 2 tips:

1 Be funny

2 Don’t not be funny.

But seriously, if you think a joke has been made already, it probably has. Think outside the box. Try to use those 140 characters originally; use that space differently. Have fun. Drink and tweet. Live. Laugh. Love.

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Rasmus Henning, Dark Mark, and Ben Hobbs

James: Tell me one thing I should know about Ben Hobbs, and one thing that nobody needs to know about Ben Hobbs.

Dark Mark: Despite the occasional anti-social behavior, Ben Hobbs is a very good dude and I am glad to know him. He is also a terrific amateur magician. Son of a bitch still has my nose.

I don’t think that anyone needs to know that Jesse Thomas confuses him sexually.

James: Has he ever talked to you about your research?

Dark Mark: I think once.

James: What did he say?

Dark Mark: I don’t think I was paying attention.

James: I’ve been in awe of how quickly he’s created something remarkable. I jumped on the TRS bandwagon in the fall when the podcast was just starting, the website was rudimentary, and the age group team and Forum were vague ideas. I had no idea that the wagon had rocket boosters! Has it surprised you how quickly everything has come together?

Dark Mark: Totally. He went from a parody account to an age group team 60 strong with athletes across the pond inside 12 months. Ben is obviously very intelligent, very shrewd, passionate about the sport, and has the perfect face for radio. I have enjoyed watching him get better and better at podcasting, while also getting worse and worse at triathlon. I do my best not to ruin the show.

James: What do you think TRS Triathlon looks like in 1 year? In 5 years?

Dark Mark: Better? Yeah, that’s it. Better. Also, bigger.

I think what Ben is doing is great. He is giving writers a chance to do some legitimate investigative journalism that would have otherwise been shut down at other publications, while also giving readers and users an outlet that isn’t so mired in Ironman’s masturbatory oligarchy (looking at you, Lava, ST). In 5 years TRS Triathlon is going to be the go-to source for triathlon goings-on. I am pretty sure he won’t have sold out by then.

James: You’ve made it clear that you prize your anonymity and privacy, and you’ve gone to great lengths to separate your public persona from your private life. You’ve also revealed that you suffered from undiagnosed Lyme disease for 8 months and that you suffer from persisting symptoms. Could you describe those symptoms in detail?

Dark Mark: I like that the first part of this question has no bearing on the second part of the question. But yes, that is true.

I had undiagnosed Lyme disease for 4-5 months, not 8 (do your research). I never saw the tick and and I never received the telltale “bullseye” rash that would indicate Lyme. The diagnosis was especially tough because as my symptoms worsened, they began to resemble other ailments including Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and Chronic Jackass, which is typical of Lyme Disease. It got so bad that I would go days without sleeping and it was during this time that I was at my lowest- physically, mentally, and emotionally. I would be in a general mental fugue for days at a time. I came to after one spell to find a half filled out application to Wattie Ink on my desktop. I had hit rock bottom.

James: So how did you finally get your diagnosis?

Dark Mark: Because I had actually done my research in this instance, I went to one doctor and told him I thought that I had Lyme, but he would not test for it because I didn’t have the bullseye, and unfortunately this can be very common. I know now that 50% of all people infected with Lyme never see the tick or display the rash. It took a few more months and me almost losing my job before I was diagnosed and was able to receive treatment.

TRS Radio interview with Jan Frodeno (Kona 2014). Image by Huub Design.

TRS Radio interview with Jan Frodeno (Kona 2014). Image by Huub Design.

The whole thing really turned me off to the idea of having Lyme disease; it is not the sexy affliction they make it out to be in the movies. Some of the long lasting effects from the Lyme that still affect me are Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and a considerably bad sense of humor. I take neurological medication for the former and inflict the latter on others via social media and podcasts. All in all, I lost about 15 lbs of muscle and 5 months of training due to Lyme disease. If cancer is to Lance Armstrong, then Lyme Disease is to Dark Mark. #Lymestrong

James: No one would hold it against you if you held a lifelong vendetta against ticks, yet you have recently turned your attention to fire ants, which you identify as the single greatest threat to triathlon. Why are fire ants a bigger threat than ticks?

ring ring

Dark Mark: If I went after everything that affected me personally, then most of my material would be about my neighbor stealing my KOMs and the rising property taxes in my area, which now that I think about it is probably worth publicizing. It’s actually really annoying. Fuck you, Tom.

ring ring

James: Hold on Mark, I need to take this call.

Image by Huub Design

Image by Huub Design

Hello?

Heather Wurtele: Hi it’s Heather. Sort of out of the blue, I know.

James: Hey, what’s up?

Heather: Well I’m doing the Chinook Pro chase triathlon on August 1st and you said on twitter you live near there? Is a homestay with a Chevy Cavalier still on the table?

James: Hell ya! But can I call you back, I’m in the middle of something for TRS.

Heather: Oh, sorry for interrupting.

James: It’s okay, I’m just doing an e-terview with Dark Mark.

Heather: Oh, then I’m not so sorry. Ha ha. I’ll let you get back to your “super high profile” interview.

James: Hey, fuck off, he asked me! Look at this direct message he sent me:

6-23-2015 10-20-16 AM

Heather: Well he’s right there…

James: He admitted he was smashed when he sent it.

Heather: Hey, ask Mark how many hipsters it takes to screw in a light bulb. (It’s a really obscure number, he’s probably never heard of it)

James: Haha, I will. Talk to you later.

Heather: Cheers.

James: Sorry about that. You know how it is. Where were we? … So, how many hipsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Dark Mark: One to screw it in and 5 to talk about how much cooler it was before the replacement light bulb.

James: How hot is Helle Frederiksen?

Dark Mark: I am not sure. I think it is quite temperate in Boulder right now so I assume she is comfortable.

James: Okay… how hot was she when you met up with her in Florida?

Dark Mark: I don’t think I can improve on that previous answer.

James: You have a popular segment on the TRS podcast called “Too Terrible For Twitter” where you go through draft tweets that you deemed “too terrible” for twitter, but apparently “just good enough” for the TRS podcast.

Dark Mark: Is it really popular though?

James: …I like it…

Dark Mark: In any case, it is usually stuff I come up with 45 minutes before we record. I have been trying to hold onto some jokes for the show and not tweet them but I love those favs baby. I will try to save some of the better jokes once I get verified on Twitter.

James: If you took all the money that you have earned from TRS and invested it wisely, how long would it take before you could buy a pretzel?

Dark Mark: Depends, is this a pretzel from a street vendor or a pretzel at a professional sporting event? Either way it would probably be easier for me just to get a pretzel sponsor.

James: Alright, time for 5 questions. Remember that this is rapid fire. No research! Ready?

Dark Mark: I specialize in no research.

James: Okay. This Pope reigned for only 8 months in the year 336.

Dark Mark: Dan Empfield.

James: This group’s best known song is “Good Vibrations”.

Dark Mark: Marky Mark and the Sybians.

James: What do you call a wrestling fan who does not realize, or chooses not to believe, that professional wrestling is staged?

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Dark Mark with Jessica Jones Meyers

Dark Mark: Cycling fans.

James: This actor is known for his role as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.

Dark Mark: Leonard Nimoy.

James: In the popular children’s series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, what is the name of “the Red Engine”?

Dark Mark: Doug MacLean.

James: Well, 0 out of 5 for being ”right”, but 5 out of 5 for being “Dark Mark”. Not bad.

Well, we’re almost out of time. On a scale of 1 to 4, where

1 is Jeff Symonds’ tooth gap

2 is The Gap

3 is the gap that Carfrae made up on the run in Kona last year

4 is Jessica Jones Meyers’ thigh gap

how good was this interview?

Dark Mark: Leading! (4)

James: Do you have any questions for me?

Dark Mark: Will you co-sign on a loan for me?

James: Not a chance!

Alright, that’s all the time we have. Thanks for doing this Mark.

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If you enjoyed this Dark Mark interview, there is a good chance you’ll enjoy reading our coverage of Challenge Roth, Vineman and the Pan-Am Games.

Also, he is still trying to get verified. See if you can help him out.

About the Author

James Lange
James Lange is an age group triathlete living in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. He aspires to be one of the top 500 amateur triathlon journalists in Western Canada. You can reach James at james@TRStriathlon.com.