Kevin Collington’s road to long-course success has been a windy one. Collington raced for the University of Florida, winning the Collegiate National Championship in 2007. From there, he became a part of the U.S. national team to focus on ITU racing, with his sights set on the 2012 Olympics in London. After failing to make the team, Collington changed to long-course racing, where he found considerably more success. Since making the switch, Collington was the 2013 U.S. 70.3 National Champion, won 70.3 Busan in 2016, and won the 2017 70.3 Pan American Championship in Monterrey.
My first experience in triathlon was doing a relay at the Disney Triathlon with two girls from my swim team. It turns out the girls had named our team “My Little Pony,” so that was an interesting way to get called across the line.
I raced in college when triathlon was 100% a club sport. While everyone was competitive and wanted to race well, the Collegiate National Championship was equally about the post- race party as it was about the race.
ITU was truly a trial-by-fire way to get into professional racing. Most of my ITU results are actually really, really bad. But since I was a swimmer I would often make the front group—or at least a strong second group—so I gained a lot of experience and racing skills.
I’ve crashed my bike and broken a bone on five different continents so far. Just Africa and Antarctica to go!
The Playas, Ecuador ITU Pan American Cup stands out as one of my weirdest race experiences. The lead run group in the race was myself, two Brazilians, and four wild dogs. I won and was paid in American dollars in the shady back corner of a restaurant.
Some guys come over from ITU and absolutely suck at long-distance racing, whereas I came from relative anonymity in the ITU and actually got some good results. It still blows my mind to this day when guys who would crush me at ITU are on my level at long-course.
I used to think a three-hour ride was long when I raced ITU, now that’s just a standard morning session. Six hours is a long freaking time to be on a bike.
When I visit family in Florida and tell people I’m a pro triathlete the response is either, “You can make money doing that?” or “When are you going to get a real job?” In Boulder, the response is usually, “Me too!”
Kevin’s Faves and Not Faves
Favorite place to race: Hamburg ITU WTS—the fans, the course, the German precision— it’s amazing.
Worst food while traveling: Giant oysters from Ecuador. I spent two nights in the hospital upon arriving back in the U.S.
Favorite Brownlee: I’m a big Jonny Brownlee fan—his Yorkshire accent is so thick, it’s fun to try to guess what he’s saying.
Worst part about being an ITU athlete: The late start times. I’m so lethargic racing at dinnertime.