When Adulthood Gets in the Way....


By MScreen_Shot_2020-03-24_at_11.43.19_AM.pngitchell Clayton (2016 Minnesota Junior of the Year)

Minnesota has one of the nation’s strongest triathlon communities. It’s one where each summer weekend has several races and where athletes, both seasoned veterans and first timers, come together to challenge themselves and accomplish a common goal. The Minnesota tri scene also has a strong history for developing elite juniors, many of whom often challenge for overall podium spots at local races and who race competitively on the national and world stage. Recent speedy teens include the Swenson siblings, Nick Klonne, the Lundquist sisters (photo below), Isabella Buenting, and several more who provide depth to the roster of fast, young racers. However, history has shown that the majority of elite juniors do not continue their racing careers into adulthood. What changes, and why do many of Minnesota’s best up-and-coming triathletes put what was once a passion of theirs on hold?

School is a big reason why many young triathletes stop racing. Some focus all of their efforts on academics, taking time away from training and racing. Some continue their high school sports, often swimming or running, into college and are forced to commit more time to one discipline than to the others that comprise the sport of triathlon. Not to mention, social life changes. Not many teens want to be “that guy” or “that girl” who’s dorm room stinks from having their trainer set up all winter, or “that person” who doesn’t go out with friends because they have a 6:00am brick workout on Saturday morning....

Right around the ages of 18-25, finances change for a lot of people. Student loans are taken out and start to become due, rent needs to be paid, food needs to be bought, and parents often transition things like cell phone bills and inlundquists.pngsurance to their children. Young adults who used to focus all of their free time on training and racing start needing to find a part time job. Necessities begin to take a higher priority than race registration fees. Additionally, many get their first full time job and begin their careers. This takes up valuable time, physical energy, and mental drive that used to propel them to the elite junior triathlete level. On top of that, many people relocate to other cities or states for their job, making it logistically impossible to continue racing on Minnesota soil.

Many of those who used to race fast and prolifically as juniors find their training and racing less of a priority once they have a significant other. Hey, who would actually say yes to a 2-hour trainer ride over a fun and exciting date night? Whether a new boyfriend or girlfriend is also into triathlons or not, time getting to know the other person can limit commitment to triathlon. And if a relationship is going great and advances to an engagement and marriage, planning a wedding takes time and resources that make putting races on the calendar not as essential.

A lot changes when elite junior triathletes step into “the real world”. Work, relationships, school, and the combination of those factors and many more often lead to athletes hanging up their racing kits. Those who do continue in the sport often find themselves “going long” with a couple Ironman races a year rather than the plethora of short course races they used to do.

A deep field of fast and prolific juniors is part of what makes the Minnesota triathlon scene so exciting and unique, and we can only hope that more continue to race and follow their passion for the sport into adulthood.


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