Heather and Trevor Wurtele – Is there anything they can’t do?
Volleyball? Check. Skiing? Yup – telemark, even. Science? You know it! Pro triathlon? CRUSHING it. Humour? Definitely – in fact, just this week, Heather proved that she has good taste in jokes even in the face of obvious pandering:
BECAUSE IT'S ALL ABOUT THAT BASE
You all disappoint me
— Webstey (@AaronWebstey) April 24, 2016
@AaronWebstey Sadly, even though I'm all about that bass & I'm a plant person, this joke was a stretch
— H & T Wurtele (@TeamWurtele) April 24, 2016
(Sure, she left herself open for a sophomoric height joke by using the word ‘stretch’ – but I digress.)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a faster, nicer, or more entertaining couple in the world of pro triathlon. When you combine all 3 qualities, you get triathlon’s unicorn couple – almost too good to be true. I was fortunate enough to have them answer a few questions shortly after their 1st and 2nd place finishes at Oceanside, and here is the result.
Interview with Heather and Trevor Wurtele, Triathlon’s Only Unicorn Couple
First off, congratulations on a stellar start to the 2016 season. 1st [H] and 2nd [T] at Monterrey 70.3, and now 1st [H] and 7th [T] at Oceanside.
[T] Were you expecting to perform this well in the early season races? What’s your focus this year – are you shooting for a KQ?
Yeah, I definitely knew things were going well in training so had a pretty high expectation of good races in both Mexico and Oceanside. We train with a lot of intensity through the winter so it’s easy to see how fit we are just by looking at the numbers. The one question mark was if I could hold it together for a fast 13.1 miles. I was seeing some very solid improvement in my pool swimming, and was sure that would translate to the race. My riding was going really well. Straight up power numbers were some of my best ever on our staple hill interval workouts. Long ride average power numbers were also some of my best ever. Plus I relaxed my aero position a bit over the winter so was feeling so much more comfortable with long sustained efforts. Running intensity took a bit longer to creep into the training schedule, but once I start with the hard stuff I come around and get fit very quickly. I don’t really have one specific focus for the year. I’d like to race well at every race I do, and plan to be fit for every race. I never like going in to races as a ‘training race’ just to see how things are going to go. I really want to have a good one every time. As for Kona, we’ll see. I’m certainly swimming well so far this year, and that was the main reason I avoided Kona for the last few years. I’m not going to go crazy trying to qualify, but if I can get the points I need with my one planned Ironman (Ironman Whistler), and some other good 70.3’s I’ll probably take my spot.
[H] Were you expecting to perform this well in the early season races? Do these results take any of the KQ pressure off – or did you really have any in the first place?
I was actually! I tend to race really well off of my winter training block, and we had a couple months of really solid all-around training at home in Kelowna, followed up with several weeks in St. George, Utah before going to Monterrey. My run fitness wasn’t quite up to top form compared to other years (given our longer break in December after racing right through to IM Cozumel in November) but I was pretty confident that solid gains in the pool (not yet apparent on race day) and on the bike (apparent on race day) would have me fighting for wins. I did my Ironman validation for Kona with Cozumel and have good points from 70.3 Worlds etc. so there isn’t really any KQ pressure. I’ve generally taken the approach that if I race well at an Ironman and the big 70.3 events, I’ll get there, and I have. I wouldn’t run myself into the ground to get more points if this wasn’t enough.
Question #2: the number 2 seems to be almost too (2?) common in your lives:
– 2 Wurteles
– 2nd at 70.3 worlds in 2015 [H]
– “2nd at an embarrassing number of half iron distance races” [T]
– an awkward conversation about #2 on TRS Radio
– to top it all off, this tweet:
I'm just going to grab a couple pears.
Pairs of what?
I said, pairs of WHAT?
Gives evil stare, holding fruit
— H & T Wurtele (@TeamWurtele) March 15, 2016
This makes me curious. What is the nature of your relationship with nature’s only even prime? Do you hate it, love it, or (gasp) never think about it? Are you perhaps #sponsored by the number 2? (I watched Sesame Street – I know a number can be a sponsor!)
[T] Let me tell you about the number 2. The number two has a strong history in my family. I fell in love with the number when I was 2, and every second day I pay homage to its significance while dropping a deuce. It’s a big number, a HUGE number. Everyone should love the number 2. It follows 1 and precedes 3, what’s not to like about it? #DoubleFistPump
[H] We have an excellent relationship with nature’s only even prime, although I tend to dislike it when it comes to racing. The Number Two (Nö2) actually sunk all of its sponsorship money into coffee. Coffee always delivers, it’s hard to compete.
As far as our relationship goes, we are actually a duprass as defined by Kurt Vonnegut, in his novel “Cat’s Cradle”. A quote:
“They were lovebirds. They entertained each other endlessly with little gifts: sights worth seeing out the plane window, amusing or instructive bits from things they read, random recollections of times gone by [quotes from movies, inside jokes from social media, and made up words in their own language]. They were, I think, a flawless example of what Bokonon calls a duprass, which is a karass composed of only two persons.”
I see that St George (IRONMAN 70.3 North American champs) is next on your calendar. Are you both racing? Do you have anything planned after that, or will it depend on results there?
[T] St. George 70.3 for sure for both of us. We’ll take a reasonably easy week now, after Oceanside, then there’s a good 4 weeks until race day where we’ll be training in St. George. After that race we haven’t nailed down a schedule just yet, aside from me doing Ironman Whistler. But we’ll have to make some decisions very soon here.
[H] Yes, we are both racing. Trevor has Ironman Canada on the horizon, and I will likely do Mt. Tremblant and Racine then go watch him in Whistler. From there my focus is on 70.3 Worlds and Kona.
***Dating Game section #1!***
[H] 1. What was your exact job title before you became a full-time triathlete?
2. What will Trevor’s guess be, when I ask him what your exact job title was?
1. Research Technician – Molecular Genetics & Forest Invasive Alien Species
2. Molecular geneticist/plant physiologist
[T] Off the top of your head, without asking or looking it up: what was Heather’s exact job title before she because a full-time triathlete?
Scientist for Natural Resources Canada (A safe answer!)
Plant geneticist (maybe trying to get too specific and I might get smacked!)
It will come as no surprise to anyone who has met you guys that Heather used to play volleyball. However, through my extensive research, I have learned that she was also a telemark skier. Trevor, you on the other hand were a downhill skier. I wonder if this contrast is a microcosm of your relationship and personalities – is it true that Heather is a free-thinking, expressionist hipster experimentalist, while Trevor is a traditional, analytical speed-seeker with an uncanny sense of humour? Or am I reading too much into which sport you chose on Activities Day in elementary school?
[T] You’re exactly right. In my ski racing days I would never have associated with a free thinking, hipster telemark skier. Way too artsy for me. I came around though, we did go skiing together one winter prior to triathlon. It was a bit embarrassing for me to be bumming around with a pinhead, but the love was so strong I didn’t let it bother me. Hehe, in all seriousness she can rip on those things.
[H] Ha ha ha. I’m betraying my assumed free-thinking hipster experimentalist identity here, by feeling like I need to answer this question logically. We both grew up downhill skiing, but I went through a rebel phase in high school where I joined a program called Earth Quest, switched to Telemark and got into back-country skiing. Perhaps, deep down, I did it to compensate for straight As and perfect attendance… “Hey, I’m cool. I’m hip.”
That said, while Trevor has a hilarious, quirky sense of humor, he is more of the numbers guy in the family (I have trouble remembering my race times). He also remembers people’s names like a champ, but I seem to know all the lyrics to every song we ever hear which blows his mind… We make a good pair. Like a duprass, or nature’s only even prime or something.
***Dating Game section #2!***
1. What is your favourite place you and Heather have ever eaten, anywhere in the world?
2. What is your spouse’s favourite?
(Note this is a safe place to use ‘favourite’ and ‘humour’.)
[T] 1. Jumeirah Beach Hotel buffet in Dubai.
2. I’m going to go with the same answer for her, and if she doesn’t answer the same as me it’s because she simply overlooked that as an option.
[H] 1. I’d have to pick the Xuma restaurant on Hughbourne Cay in the Bahamas. It’s a lovely open-air restaurant overlooking the turquoise Caribbean on a small, private island in the Bahamas, with delicious food and ginger beer… what’s not to love!?
2. I’d say the breakfast buffet at the Jumirah Beach Hotel in Dubai. It was pretty amazing. There were so many different types of tasty food. He loved the dense German sunflower seed and rye bread with jam & cheese, smoked salmon, the fruit, the pastries… and there was excellent coffee – a must for Mr. T. This place has pretty much ruined continental breakfasts for the rest of our lives.
Final questions, I promise.
You’ve already had a great career, by anybody’s standard. What gets you out of bed to train in the morning, at this point – do you love the process, or do you still have something to prove?How often do you pick each other up off the floor, so to speak, to get your butts out the door and train? While any sane person would say your career is successful, do you feel like you have to accomplish anything else before you can call it a “success” by your own standards?
[T] I definitely do not feel done with this sport. I’m 36 now, but I don’t even feel like I’m just hanging on for a few more years. We started in this sport for fun when we were 25, so the mind is still relatively fresh and the body is still responding well to training. I really love it and want to keep going, keep getting better and win more races. At this point I’m not even thinking of an exit point. My mind does sometimes wander into the ‘what do I want to do after triathlon’ question, but then I just kind of snap out of it and realize I can’t think like that if I want to be 100% committed. I’ll deal with that when it comes.
Having each other to get our butts out the door is a big deal. It really makes a difference to have someone else around going through the same daily routine. I would find it a lot harder to be happy doing this sport if I had to be away from Heather for long periods of time. Be it for training camps or extended race trips. It’s so nice that we can be together. That said, we’re highly compatible in close proximity 24hrs per day. Living in a 23ft RV for 5+ years is a good test of a relationship. Thankfully we can spread out a bit now, most of the year, but that RV was definitely the dream machine.
Success? I would definitely like to win at least a couple more Ironmans and have a race in Kona that I’m happy with. I know I don’t have 10 years in which to do that, but if I were to call it a day with the one IM win and the one 70.3 win, plus an f’d up number of 2nd places, I’d be a little disappointed.
[H] Thanks! I feel a little like I have nothing to prove, and everything to prove all at the same time. I’ve won big races, but it’s a lot of hard work and dedication to keep doing so. I’m definitely driven to win a World Championship, but I don’t think that is the ultimate defining point for the success of my career. Even with great success, once you retire from the sport people forget about your results pretty quickly. All those external rewards are fleeting so it really has to be about something deeper. I thrive on the challenge, and I get psyched up about all the improvements I can still see myself, and Trevor, making. I think that the most personally rewarding parts of life come from being engaged at the edge of your limits where failure is possible, making success truly satisfying. I feel very fortunate to be able to make a living from pushing myself to be the best triathlete I can be!
***Dating Game Bonus Question!***
– What is the name of your spouse’s 1st boyfriend/girlfriend, and how old were they at the time?
[T] Are we talking elementary school boyfriend? Crazy enough I’m pretty sure that kids name was Trevor. If we’re talking first love during/after high school, his name was Dave.
Thank you so much for this. Good luck in the rest of 2016 – I can’t wait to see you both crush it all season long. Please feel free to mention any sponsors, without whom none of this would be possible.
[T] Thanks guys for the interview, and thanks for letting us give a quick shout out to our sponsors who make this all possible. Saucony, Cervelo, First Endurance, Louis Garneau, ENVE, Power Tap, Manitoba Harvest, Aqua Sphere.