If one had to analyze the success factors of athletes – talent, passion and discipline, would be the elements that come to my mind. We often hear athletes in Pre-Kona interviews that it takes the will to win the race. Will and passion go long ways in sports, especially in endurance events. I strongly believe it takes all three to be successful.
One could think of them being the three sides of a triangle, if one isn’t as long as the other, the triangle either becomes smaller or another side will have to compensate.
I probably fall into the category of people who have to work hard. I was always impressed by people, who could easily run 800m in sub 2 min, without a lot of training, where I had to train all year round to get close to a 2.10 min. What could those people have accomplished if they trained hard? Who knows, their triangle wasn’t shaped equally, they didn’t have the other elements to stay in the sport and work hard.
My parents never asked me to train more or train harder, nor did they have huge expectations. They just wanted me to have fun and be around great people. I can be very thankful for that which also allowed me to develop my own passion and desire to get better every year.
The sense of accomplishment after a great race, where all the hard work paid off, is a great feeling.
I remember my first running race; it was a cross country county championship. I was 9 years old. Our team was sponsored by the local quarry and we got their bus to drive to the race. Cross country races in Germany were in early spring, it was cold; we may have even had some snow flurries. That was the beginning of my running career. I had two great coaches, which was definitely a big part of the enjoyment and development as a athlete. I was mostly competing in cross country races and mid-distances track entens (1000m, 800m and 1500m). Our coach always encouraged us to do other events, 400 m hurdles, long jump, sprints etc. The biggest success was the state championship team title in cross country when I was 17.
Sports in Germany are mainly club sports, I was racing for the TSV Genkingen (home town) for my whole teenage athletic career and am still a member.
I took a few years off of running after high school and was running occasionally to stay in shape during and after college, before I started doing Triathlons.
I am sure it was an exciting moment when I learned to ride my bike, I just don’t have any specific memories. I am sure my first bike was a hand me down from my older brother. My first own new bike was a BMX bike, yep the 80s. Growing up in a small German town meant that you are either walking or riding your bike, wherever you go. The bike was the way to go!
I got my first mountain bike when I was 14 in 1991, which was definitely a special moment.
Shimano had just come out with their first 21 speed click shifter series. The bike was a Panasonic MC 4500, it was awesome. Beside running, I did quite a bit of biking, but was never competitive. A highlight was a trip to Lago di Garda, Italy in 1995.
In 1999 a trip to the the West Coast of the US, also got me my first ‘real’ road bike. A Trek 2300. I have great memories riding down HWY 1 in California from Monterey to Santa Maria.
From then on I was riding more or less regularly in the surrounding hills and mountains in Rosenheim, Bavaria. After moving to Cary, NC in 2004, the first step was to bring my mountain bike, which was followed by the road bike later that year. My friend Dave showed me all the great single track trails in the Raleigh area. 2006 and 2007 were fun filled with trips to Moab, Utah. Hence, I could check off both the European and North American mountain bike Mecca!
2007 my first year of Triathlons, which lead to more road cycling than mountain biking. The mountainous rides like 3 Mountain Madness and the Assault on Mt. Mitchell were on the list.
A means to get on the bike! Not sure exactly when I first learned swimming, all I know is that as I kid I could only swim breast stroke. Summer 2007 was the time to take freestyle lessons and I am still learning! Luckily I have gotten to the point where I actually enjoy swimming. I will hopefully continue to improve and become more competitive overall.
All three – Triathlon
My first Triathlon was the Endurance Challenge, a sprint race in Hillsborough, NC in August 2007. I was hooked from then on. Since then my focus has been on mid and long distance races. The goal for 2008 was to complete an Iron Distance race, which unfortunately wasn’t accomplished, due to difficulties on the run. 2010 was year of Half Ironmans, I was able to improve my PR to a 4.36 h.min in Augasta, GA.
2011 is the year of long distance racing. The Challenge Roth and the ITU Longcourse World Championships are the highlights.
The beginning of my professional career was a 3 year apprenticeship to become a cabinetmaker at the age of 17. Working full time and training eventually became a struggle. I decided that that couldn’t be it and went back to school to get my high school diploma. Mandatory military service, or respectively community service was in order next.
College then drew me from my hometown near Stuttgart to Rosenheim in Bavaria, which turned out to become one of my favorite cities. After 5 1/2 years of undergrad and grad school a move to the US to write my Masters Thesis with a company in Cary, NC turned out to be a great experience. The southern hospitality made it easy to decide on taking a full time position, implementing ERP software in the woodworking industry. I have since enjoyed my job and am now managing a team of consultants and Project Managers.