Pro Triathletes Talk About Their First Time

Photo Courtesy Alyssa Godesky

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a pro triathlete? Of course you do. In fact, I bet some of us you have even donned a headband and dressed as Simon Whitfield for Hallowe’en. Unless they had the early-life advantages of swimming, racing Kids Of Steel, or living in Europe, even the Tier 1™ pros had to start somewhere.

In the first of what will be a recurring Weekly Webstey topic, you get a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like for some of your favourite professional triathletes (plus Brad Williams) to toe the line at their first pro race. Next time you feel bad about forgetting to tape that 4th gel on your frame, remember that nobody’s perfect.

My First Time – Trevor Wurtele

trevwurteleMy first race as a pro was by accident. At Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens – 2007. I was still an age grouper, but they gave me a pro number at check in. I didn’t correct them. Other than being ridiculously nervous it went fine. I didn’t get beat by any age groupers, that’s about all I remember. I forget who won…Maybe Chris Lieto? I tried to find results but couldn’t get that year. I’d be interested to look back if anyone can find the finish list.

My First Time – Alyssa Godesky

godesky-avatarI was racing IM Los Cabos (it was in March in 2014). I had 2 friends racing, including fellow pro Haley Chura. I stuck to her like glue before the race and she was doing a great job keeping me calm as we took some pics and stayed relatively relaxed. We decided to go find the start but got lost in the sea of people and couldn’t actually find the gate to go through. Finally making it to the start line, I adjust my goggles tighter and the little plastic clip that holds the goggle strap on breaks and goes flying into the sand. Not ideal! Haley starts to try to find a friend with her spare pair of goggles, which makes me anxious because I figured she was going to be first out of the water and I did NOT want her worried about me. Luckily, it turns out the Mexican national anthem is like 15 minutes long, so we had some extra time. So, we tied the strap into a knot and she assured me “oh I do this all the time, it’ll totally work.” It did work, but she came clean that night that she wasn’t quite so confident as she appeared. I wish I could blame my poor swim on the goggles that day, but nope, just standard “got left behind at the gun rookie-pro swim mistake”! Pics attached [see featured image, above] where I still look somewhat calm that AM.

My First Time – Brad Williams

This pretty much sums up for my first pro race – Ben chased me on the run course and bribed me with money if I chased down Eric Linkemann at 70.3 Galveston.

My First Time – Emily Cocks

emilycocksHere is my story:

I did my first professional race at Steelhead 70.3 in August 2009. I qualified for my elite card at Escape from Alcatraz just a couple months earlier. Honestly, I was not really that nervous, I just wanted to go faster on the course than I had the previous times I had competed there.

I came out of the water with the leaders and then quickly went backwards. I used to get passed by a lot of women at the beginning of the bike as an amateur athlete and it was even more magnified as a professional. I think the entire field passed me the first three miles of the bike course. However, I was undeterred since I knew I was cycling stronger than I had in my previous races on the same course. Plus, I was all alone out there, and, unlike most athletes, I was happy to have the roads to myself and not have to deal with crowds of amateurs.

I ran my best half marathon up to that point, felt strong and almost ran myself into 10th place. I was 8-10 minutes faster than I had been before in a half ironman and Leanda Cave, who I think won the race, was super nice to me afterwards and chatted with me about my first race as a pro. She told me I looked strong on the run! I wonder if she remembers that??

I raced with my husbands name on my kit as my primary sponsor. And yes, that’s a maple leaf. I was an athlete of the now defunct PR Peak Performance (PR=Peter Reid). However, my coach is the same, Patrick Kelly, now the head coach for the Hong Kong National Federation. He has coached me since 2007. I am pretty sure the first time he saw me race he did not think I would be where I am now. I just keep training and doing what he says.

My First Time – Doug MacLean

dougmacleanAhhhh, yes. It was TriStar 101, in Minneapolis, in 2011.

It started out well enough, with a short 1000 meter swim. Then… about 10 miles into the bike, I missed a turn, and went off course. Something like 5 out of the 12 pros there also went off course, and dozens and dozens of age groupers did, as well. Afterwards, I mentioned to the race director that maybe they could have marked the course more clearly, but I just received a blank stare in return. TriStar 101 Minneapolis was not around for very long…

On a positive note, we did have a good time partying in downtown Minneapolis the night of the race. We went to a club, AJ jammed with a random street drummer, and Damon Barnett unleashed his spot-on Aussie accent to meet some ladies.

The first pro race I finished was one month later, and it went much better. Rev3 Cedar Point, where I came in 7th, and got a nice little paycheck. Good times!

(attached photo is AJ, me, and our friend Sean, being d-bags at a club in Minneapolis that night)

Whose story do you want to hear?

“My first time … as a pro” will be a recurring #WeeklyWebstey topic in 2016. Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, email, or semaphore your favourite pros and tell them to send their stories to:

Tune in next time for more great stories, including one from #IMLP7th winner Ray Botelho

About the Author

Aaron 'King of All Technology' Webstey is a former ITU triathlete and current dadbod owner. If your social media posts have been 'liked' by @AaronWebstey, you might be a triathlete.