The Triathlon Man

Willard Alonzo Stanback's winning spirit

Willard Alonzo Stanback challenges himself physically beyond what most can fathom. As a member of the New York Triathlon Club, he entered an event last summer in which he swam a quarter mile, cycled 12, and ran five4finishing 30 minutes behind the winner. He placed 109th out of the 223 competitors who crossed the finish line. For Stanback, an attorney who is vice president of legal affairs for Scripps Networks, which is comprised of Home & Garden Television, Food Network, DIY Network (Do It Yourself Network), and the newly launched Fine Living, achieving his goal trumps winning any race.

“I just don’t want to come in last4and as long as I finish,” remarks Stanback. “It’s something I plan to do on a consistent basis. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, strength, endurance, and patience. [I like] the whole notion of persevering.”

His pursuits began with the purchase of a new bicycle in the spring of 1995. He had been jogging and frequenting the gym, and decided to add long-distance cycling to his exercise regimen. That summer, he completed a 100-mile bike ride called a Century, and in the fall of that year, he participated in a biathlon (a two-and-a-half mile run, followed by a 12-mile bike ride, completed by a second two-and-a-half mile run). He has since completed 10 biathlons.

His work schedule is hectic, but his workout program is grueling, requiring distance swimming (1,500 meters), cycling (20 miles), and running (six or more miles) every week. He also trains with a personal coach and has added martial arts to his routine.

“Each event drove my passion to stay physically fit and mentally healthy,” says Stanback, a 39-year-old husband, and father to his 8-year-old son, Wynston, whom he has interested in the sport. In fact, Stanback is entering him in a biathlon for kids later this year. “Now [Wynston] is telling my father-in-law and other people that ‘he’s in training,’” says Stanback.

Getting Started
Get assessed. First, team up with a physical trainer and have him or her evaluate your body’s fitness level. There are trainers at your local gym, but Stanback suggests working with someone who has been recommended, and then someone with whom you are comfortable. Once you get into a basic fitness routine with a trainer, he or she can help you develop an exercise regimen for a triathlon.

Get basic essentials. You’ll need a pair of swimming trunks or a bathing suit, swimming goggles, running sneakers, and a road bike. Eventually, you may want to invest in a good water-resistant watch to time your performances. Estimated costs, including gym memberships and race entry fees (roughly $35 per race), are upward of $2,500.

Watch the Web. Many sites offer training tips and an extensive race calendar for runners, triathletes, and cyclists. Try these: www.nytc.org (New York Triathlon Club), www.runningnetwork.com (Running Network), and www.usatriathlons.org (USA Triathlon).

Read up. Check out the book Time-Saving Training for Multisport Athletes by Rick Niles et al (Human Kinetics, $16.95).

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