Steamboat’s TJ Thrasher completes another wild extreme triathlon
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs native TJ Thrasher has tried traditional triathlons, but he wasn’t a fan of the commercialism. So, started doing XTri’s, or extreme triathlons, specifically prospect races that aren’t a part of the World Tour Circuit.
“They’re just a little less refined, there’s a little more adventure with them in a way because they haven’t gone through all those refinements,” Thrasher said of prospect races. “Certainly, because they’re new, there’s just less information out there and provide more of a unique experience.”
On Dec. 14, Thrasher, 41, participated in the Fodaxman, a triathlon in Santa Catarina, Brazil, earning eighth out of 51 finishers. He completed the 218.5 kilometer (about 136 miles) point-to-point course in 13 hours, 51 minutes. The swim began in the dark and the course climbed nearly 5,000 meters (about 16,000 feet) to the finish line was on top of Morro da Igreja.
Some slower competitors who were late to a checkpoint were put on a flatter course that finished at the base, but Thrasher was one of the few who finished at the peak.
“That was absolutely stunning and to be able to look off, I don’t know how far down it was,” Thrasher recalled. “It was almost scary how steep it was up those switchbacks.”
He began the race with a 4 km (2.5 miles) swim, then transitioned to a 172.5 km (107 miles) bike before concluding with a 42 km (26 mile) run. He finished the swim, his weakest discipline, in 24th place.
“I’m actually swimming about as good as I ever have, but the sighting, they had these buoys, only three on the whole course, and from water level, you couldn’t see them, so they had some kayaks floating around and people were sighting off of those,” Thrasher said. “I think we did some extra distance. I ended up having a really, really long swim. I wasn’t terribly happy with my finish time on the swim, but knew that I would be strong on the bike.”
Thrasher made up plenty of time on the bike, and even more on the run. Throughout the entire course, he was aided by coach Lorie Tucker, and longtime friend and Olympian, Todd Lodwick.
The pair met him along the route every half hour or so, giving him water, food and directions or pouring ice down his back to keep him cool.
The lack of aid stations and need for a team is another reason Thrasher prefers the XTri races to other more organized and refined races.
“The support piece is certainly huge. They are the reason any athlete finishes, and it’s certainly true in my case as well,” Thrasher said. “Having Todd and Lorie was amazing. … Those people that are there and involved, (my wife) Tasha, from home even, tolerating the amount of training and taking care of everything that I’m not capable of doing, that’s huge. … Without that, I can’t (participate). It takes a lot of people to get one to the finish line in these type of races.”
Thrasher participated in the Patagonman last year, and completed the Alaskaman Triathlon the year before. However, he might not have a race on his 2020 schedule.
“I’ve been doing one a year for the past few years, and it’s coming to a point where I might not be able to dedicate the amount of time necessary to continue to do that many,” Thrasher said. “I would never say I’m done with the sport, but I probably have a little break coming my way.”
He said finding the time to train between work at Sol Solutions and spending time with his wife and son, Tristan, is difficult.
All of the Thrasher’s are athletic, as Tasha has done triathlons in the past, and all enjoy Nordic skiing. Tristan competes in cross country skiing with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, as well as biathlon, which has taken him and the family from Montana to Vermont.
Still, if he had the opportunity to compete in the Norseman XTri World Championships via the lottery, he would take it.
“The spirit of adventure, you never know what’s gonna come up, catch my interest,” he said.
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