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The Millennium Runner: Substance & Style

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published Jun. 28, 2011
  • Updated Mar. 15, 2012 at 5:10 PM UTC

Click on the image to view more photos of Ann Wessling, our Millennium Runner.

CROSS-TRAINING

About the same time that Gordon Ainsleigh took off on the Western States route without a horse, the sport of triathlon was heating up in San Diego, and when a bunch of endurance nuts, most coming from various branches of the military, decided to concoct the Ironman triathlon on the island of Oahu in 1978, a new breed of endurance athlete was born: the triathlete.

In general, two types of runners have flocked to triathlons over the years: those in search of a new challenge and those wanting to escape injury. The built-in variety of triathlon—a heady mix of swimming, cycling and running—is typically seen as both a way never to get bored and as the ultimate all-around endurance event. But it’s only been in the last decade or so that triathlon has begun to repel its way down from the mountaintop of perceived craziness to a sport that appeals to the masses. Thanks also in part to triathlon’s inclusion in the 2000 Olympics, USA Triathlon membership has grown from around 19,000 in 1999 to 135,000 in 2010, and nowadays 78 percent of people racing triathlons are doing so in the more digestible sprint-distance variety. Old school runners—still in no short supply today—grind their teeth when the thought of swimming comes up, as they have since the days of yore.

Photo: Athleta Long Sleeve Twist Top,$69·PUMA Essential Fitness Shorts,$35·Specialized S-WORKS Road Shoe,$350
·Kuota Kaliber “Pinkie” Triathlon Bike with Spinergy Wheels

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FILED UNDER: Features / Injury Prevention / Inside The Magazine TAGS: / / / / / / / /

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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