Two For Triathlons

For the average guy, a weekend bike ride entails a casual two-wheeled jaunt around the neighborhood. For Columbian Brent Young and his son, Brandon, a weekend bike ride is a full-speed, heart-pounding, 20-mile trek.

Brent Young is a seasoned athlete who has been competing in triathlons for more than a decade. He started with local Ultramax Sports races — the MaxTrax Duathlon and the Jay Dix Challenge to Cure — and steadily worked his way up to more intense long-distance events, such as the TriREV3 Triathlon in Branson and the Pigman Triathlon in the Cedar Rapids suburb of Palo, Iowa.

Brandon Young has a list of athletic accomplishments that is no less impressive; he ran his first official race at the wee age of 7. “I like triathlons because they’re an individual event,” 14-year-old Brandon says. “You have to push through on your own and reach the goals that you set for yourself.”

Although Brent is now a triathlon veteran, he admits he had to start out slow. Spinning and mountain biking helped him strengthen his cycling skills, and competing in duathlons (a competition of cycling and running components) gave him a feel for racing. By definition, a triathlon refers to an athletic contest consisting of three different events — typically swimming, cycling and long-distance running.

How does one prepare for such an event? With lots of swimming, cycling and long-distance running, Brent says. “We’re constantly training; it never stops. We’re always riding between 20 to 30 miles at a time, but between work and family, you’ve got to find a balance. We try to do just enough to keep ourselves in shape.”

Getting ready for a race follows simple logic: longer events require more groundwork. However, time and experience make it easier to determine how to train for an event. With such rigorous preparation, it’s not a stretch to think that sometimes it might be hard to stay motivated. The changing seasons and not-so-agreeable Missouri weather make it difficult to exercise outdoors year-round, but successful triathletes like the Youngs keep pushing through the tedium and the inconveniences.

Even the most prepared athlete will run into challenges in this inherently challenging sport. Brent and Brandon admit they have found some courses more difficult than others. For Brent, the hills of the REV3 in Branson were formidable; for Brandon, his first race in Wisconsin was one of his hardest.

On the course, this duo depends on each other for encouragement, but a little father-son competition can’t hurt. “We feed off of each other,” Brent says.

And when things don’t go so well? “Misery loves company,” Brent says, “and we definitely suffer together.”

Through the highs, the lows and the intense preparation, another member of this successful squad is ready to provide support: wife and mother Rhonda Young. Rhonda has always been a cheerleader for her husband and son, and she rarely misses a race. “The encouragement and inspiration that they give each other is amazing,” she says. “I’m very proud to be part of this father-son team.

Triathlon Tips
If you’re feeling inspired by this terrific twosome, it’s never too late to get started. Both Brandon and Brent agree that anyone can become a successful triathlete. The key is to take that first step, set attainable goals for yourself and stay focused. Brent adds that any hobby provides an excellent opportunity to meet new and interesting people.

“It’s always nice to meet people with similar interests,” he says. “The community and camaraderie between all of us who race is pretty great.”

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