After getting a health problem diagnosed and treated, American Matt Chrabot is approaching 2013 with a new outlook.
Initially, Matt Chrabot’s journey into the sport of triathlon wasn’t unlike anyone else’s.
He excelled at one of the three legs that make up the sport, in his case swimming. That’s usually how it works. But from there, his story takes an interesting twist on a sandy beach.
During his summer breaks in his college years, the Virginia Beach, Va. native was a lifeguard. One of the things he enjoyed most about the job was participating in competitions with his peers. He excelled in those run-swim-run races, which got him thinking about the multisport lifestyle.
All he had to do was add cycling to his repertoire, which he did in 2003—his sophomore year at George Mason University. He competed in his first triathlon a year later and during the spring seasons of his junior and senior years, Chrabot was on the school’s road cycling team.
“I knew a couple guys that did triathlon,” Chrabot told us via Skype from his current training base in Canberra, Australia a couple of weeks ago. “Sometimes they’d ride their bikes to work in the morning and I thought it’d be cool if I got a bike … and [I] did some triathlons as well.”
Chrabot decided to take triathlon more seriously in 2006, so he secured his professional license and a pro card. Fast forward six years to last June, when Chrabot was in San Diego at the U.S. Olympic qualifying race. He entered the Trials as one of the favorites to earn an Olympic berth.
But during the race, things unraveled—just as they had a month prior at a race in Sydney.
“Totally felt like I ran out of gas in the last 5K in San Diego,” said Chrabot, whose resume also includes victories at the 2008 and 2010 Pan American Championships. “I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, so I had some blood tests done and met with an endocrinologist down in Houston.”
After the battery of tests, his doctor figured out Chrabot had some thyroid issues that were affecting his testosterone level. Chrabot’s body was not producing enough of it, which explained why he kept bonking.
He was prescribed medication and was told to take it easy for a while. In six to nine months, his doctors told him, the issue should be cleared up.
It’s been nearly nine months. How’s he doing? The 29-year-old placed second at the Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon Oceania Cup in Australia on March 16, finishing 21 seconds behind winner Javier Gomez (Spain) and out-sprinting Australian Peter Kerr at the finish.
“I picked out a few guys [on the run] that didn’t go crazy fast and just hung with them,” he said. “Eventually we ended up reeling just about everybody back in. It feels pretty good to get back on the podium, it’s been a while since I’ve had a decent race.”
Another interesting thing about Chrabot—which he eloquently pointed out to us—is that he is essentially homeless. Chrabot does not have his own place in the United States (although his family is still in Virginia Beach), and he’s never in the same location for too long when he’s on the road.
Currently he’s living and training with a group of 14 other elite triathletes consisting of five men and 10 women (“We’re definitely outnumbered,” he said.). The team is based in Canberra, and he acknowledged that the crew is hungry for a victory.
So it seems that all is well for one of America’s elite Olympic-distance triathletes. Next up, Chrabot will open the ITU World Triathlon Series season in Auckland, New Zealand this Saturday. Then he’ll return to the U.S. for ITU San Diego on April 20. Chrabot hasn’t decided if the 2016 Olympics will be a goal.