by Brendan Reid
Triathlon is undoubtedly one of the most gruelling, yet rewarding, sports on this planet. The rapid-fire combination of swim, bike, and run is enough to make even the most hardy athletes balk, but there are those who have risen to the challenge (like our publisher Wendy!), and have dedicated their lives to it. I recently had the chance to sit down with Canadian triathlete Taylor Reid and discuss the finer details of his craft, from his most brutal races to how you can get in on the fun too.
Brendan Reid: What are some of your latest achievements in triathlon this year?
Taylor Reid: So far I’ve won Ironman 70.3 in Victoria. It was pretty awesome, we had some good guys out there. Trevor Wurtele was out there, a great buddy of mine, but we’ve also got a decent rivalry going on. Earlier on this year I also came second at [Ironman] 70.3 in New Orleans. I’m also getting ready to go to the World Championships in Australia in about a month and a half. This will be the second year I’ve gone. Other than that, I’ve got about 6 races left. Hoping to do just as well in those!
BR: I want to bring it back to where it all began. How did you discover that triathlon was the sport for you?
TR: It’s been a long journey for sure. It really started with my parents, when they took me out mountain biking. Mountain biking really dug the roots in for me. Then I started running, which really pushed me over the edge. I won my first running race in grade 8, and I realized, ok, I like winning! I then discovered C3, the local triathlon club in Caledon. There I met Barrie Shepley, who pushed me into triathlon. With my bike background I started with duathlons, and then finally when I was 16 I actually got in the pool. The first race I did was nationals in Brampton! It was a junior series, and as junior you can get into any race, as long as you have the proper qualifications through Triathlon Canada. My goal was not to come last out of the water, and then do as well as I could. Also, in that kind of race if you get lapped by the leader, you’re done. And it was close!
BR: How does one make a living off of triathlon?
TR: In my case, I have sponsors that are supporting me. I have Kinetico and C3, who are both giving me a bit of a monthly setup to make sure I have something to live off of. Other than that, it’s really based off results. The first race this year I crashed, so I didn’t make any money. Luckily I came second in the next race. A lot of sponsors also give me bonuses based on my results. It’s a lot of little pay cheques; I don’t have any massive forms of income yet. It’s split pretty evenly between prize money and sponsors.
BR: Most triathletes start their careers at a young age. Has anyone older, such as someone in their twenties, showed up and started winning races?
TR: A great example of that is Lionel Sanders. He really only started his triathlon career when he was 21, but he had a great running background, and was a very dedicated individual. He basically put it all on the line, and just went for it. That’s what you have to do in this sport. He had his big breakout year when he was 26. His first triathlon was an Ironman, then he took a step back and started training and focusing a lot. Some people, like me, start when they’re twelve, and others do their P.H.D. before breaking into the triathlon circuit. So there’s hope for anyone who wishes to do it!
BR: What is the story of the most painful race you’ve ever experienced?
TR: Every race has it’s own difficulties. Some of the hardest things to deal with are mechanical setbacks. Those things are just out of your control. You can have bad days, but that’s just your body, and you can only control so much there. When it comes down to the most painful race for me, it was probably Cozumel, Mexico. I just was not ready for it. It was just after Worlds, I was just getting myself back in shape after a crash, and it just didn’t go well. That was a race of survival, and those are the worst.
BR: On the other side of the coin, what is the best race you’ve ever had?
TR: There are two that really stand out. The first one was Mt. Tremblant last year. I was toe to toe with Lionel most of the race. That was the first race where I really stepped up, and I knew that I could make a career out of triathlon. That race still clocks my fastest half marathon off the bike. It just felt good the whole way. My other really awesome race was last year at Silverman. Again, I just felt like I was floating on the run, and I pretty much just ran everyone down and ended up winning that race. I’m looking for those feelings again at worlds in a month.
BR: Any advice for those looking to get into the sport of triathlon?
TR: You really just have to go for it. Go out and do a “try tri.” Those are really short and simple races, about a 200m swim, a 10k bike ride, and a 2.5k run. That will give you a good taste for it. You don’t need a fancy bike. Definitely stay local for your first year. Triathlons are springing up everywhere these days. Try those before you start pushing on to bigger ventures. Just have fun doing it! Find a club and other people that like doing it, even if it’s just your local Running Room. It’s way more exciting and fun with others.
Brendan is an avid gamer, explorer, and music enthusiast. He can often be found hiking through the woods, looking for reckless adventures to embark on.