Triple Threat: 8 Interesting Pro Triathletes

It is easy to get caught up in the super-serious work of training for three difficult endurance sports. But these eight pro triathletes find a way to forge their own paths, making them fan favorites.

Pro Triathletes who break the mold

Written by
Micah Ling

Published on

Posted in
Features

The number of hours that professional triathletes have to put in to excel at swimming, biking, and running sometimes seems superhuman. Not to mention the day-to-day maintenance that comes along with that lifestyle. Like eating — a lot. It’s hard to imagine that any pro triathlete would have time to think about anything besides training and racing. Well, believe it or not, they are out there. We picked eight athletes who have fascinating backstories, inspiring recoveries from injuries, new approaches to the sport, and more. Read on, and become a superfan! 

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Max Fennell - Ready for a triathlon biathlon 

Fennell’s road to becoming a professional triathlete wasn’t linear. His original plan was to become a professional soccer player, but he suffered a career-ending injury to his medial collateral ligament (MCL) during a pick-up game. So he got into triathlon as a way to recover, and never looked back. In 2014, Fennell became the first African American pro triathlete in the U.S. But he’s also the founder and CEO of an artisan small batch coffee roasting business, Fenn Coffee. He also recently took up archery and hunting, and of course uses both to stay in shape for triathlon. 

Sika Henry - Carrying on the tradition for Black women

Henry made history on May 2, 2021 at the Challenge Cancun race, which qualified her for her USA Triathlon pro card, thus becoming the first U.S. Black female professional triathlete in history. She was inspired as a child by Dominique Dawes, and watched her in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Dawes was the first Black American woman to win an individual Olympic medal in gymnastics. Despite a serious crash in 2019 — at an Ironman 70.3 in Texas — Henry was determined to come back and earn her pro card, to be an example for all the kids watching. 

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Sam Long - Beating the odds

Long was born a triplet — one of three boys — and they were born premature. Doctors worried that they might lag behind their peers. It was Long’s first lesson in fighting. He’s no longer smaller than most. At 6’4” and with one of the most booming personalities in the sport, he stands out, to say the least. Long got into the sport later than some — at 17 — and for much of his high school career wanted to play football and lift weights. But he immediately excelled at triathlon. In his first Ironman, in his hometown of Boulder, Colorado, he came in 13th overall, including the pro field — at the age of 18. Today, at 26, with multiple wins and his signature “Yo, yo, yo” battle cry, it’s tough not to root for him. He’s already won his first 2 events for 2022, and is clearly living his dream. 

Linsey Corbin - A family affair

With 15 years as a professional triathlete, Corbin has learned just about everything there is to know about the sport. She’s won numerous races and has earned top honors at both the half and full Ironman distance. And part of her secret is her team of support. Namely her husband, Chris. (But also their golden retriever, Chimmy). While many professional athletes — maybe especially triathletes — end up with other professional athlete spouses, the Corbins are a team in a different way. Chris is a professional photographer, and has focused much of his career on photographing Linsey and other triathletes. Linsey has long standing relationships with some of the top sponsors in the sport, and Chris has worked with many of those sponsors as well. Race day usually means both Corbins are hard at work. 

Cameron Wurf - Chasing the Tour de France-Ironman double

Wurf came to triathlon from world tour cycling, and came to cycling from Olympic rowing. At 38, he’s seemingly lived three lifetimes worth of sport, and he’s not slowing down. The Australian professional triathlete and road cyclist currently rides for UCI WorldTeam Ineos Grenadiers. His goal this year is to ride the Tour de France and compete at the Kona triathlon world championship. If you follow him on Strava you might get dizzy just keeping track of all that he does in a single day. 

Kendall Gretsch - A Paralympian for all seasons

In August, 2020, Gretsch claimed her first Paralympic gold medal competing in paratriathlon at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. She was born with spina bifida, but from a young age was a competitive swimmer. Eventually, in college, she became an avid paratriathlete. And she doesn’t take much down time. In the winter, she also competes at the highest level in cross country skiing and biathlon. Gretsch won two gold medals in Nordic skiing at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. And in Beijing, Gretsch won a gold, silver, and bronze medal competing in biathlon events. 

Mirinda Carfrae - The Triatha-mom

In her bio, Carfrae (“Rinny”) describes herself as “mum to superstars Izzy & Finn, professional triathlete.” Carfrae is an Australian professional triathlete and an Ironman Triathlon world champion. Carfrae has achieved podium positions in six of her seven attempts at the Ironman World Championships, and also won the 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. These days she’s learning that training to compete at the top is a balance of sport and family time. She and her husband (professional triathlete) Timothy O’Donnell, get creative when it comes to training and spending time with their kids, including lots of family time in the pool.

Tim Don - Not afraid of the pain

Three-time Olympian, World Champion in triathlon and duathlon, and countless ITU World Cup and Ironman podium appearances. Great Britain's Tim Don was already a legend in the sport. Then in 2017, he broke the Ironman world record by more than four minutes, at Ironman South American Championship in Florianopolis, Brazil. He was going into Kona as a heavy favorite to win. But two days before the race, on a training ride, he was hit by a truck and his neck was broken. He chose to wear a “halo” device to heal the broken C2. This involves 4 screws in the skull. The most painful, and the most uncomfortable form of healing, but also the fastest. The only thing on Don’s mind was racing again. By December, 2017 he was back in the gym. In April, 2018, Don ran the Boston Marathon in 2:49. Today, he continues to race and inspire his fans and his opponents.

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