“Triathlon is considered by many people a solo and somewhat selfish sport, but I’ve found it's anything but that."
If you ask us, the coolest thing about triathlon is that hours after the first-place finisher breaks the tape, winners are still crossing the line. Though much fanfare surrounds the jaw-dropping speed and unfathomable strength found in the professional fields, the age-groupers are the ones who quietly inspire. Need proof? Each of our cover finalist athletes exemplify the heart and soul of our sport: Everyday people doing extraordinary things. Meet our contest winner here, and then meet one of the other inspirational finalists below.
“Triathlon is considered by many people a solo and somewhat selfish sport, but I’ve found it’s anything but that,” says 46 year-old Chad Esker. “The individuals in my training group are the most selfless, giving, non-judgemental people. They will put themselves and often their own goals aside to see others achieve their dreams and goals. The energy that triathlon produces radiates through our group and community – it’s contagious.”
This assessment is a reflection of Esker himself, says his friend Jennifer, who nominated him for the 2018 Triathlete cover contest. “Although triathlon is an individual sport, Chad works to bring people together through it, whether they dive into the sport themselves, take on their own new challenge in a different realm, or simply rally around the triathlon community.”
In May of 2017, Esker successfully completed the Epic5 Ultra Endurance Challenge, a race series of 5 iron-distance triathlons, on 5 different Hawaiian Islands, in 5 days. As part of his efforts, he challenged people in his community to take on their own “ultra endurance challenge,” whatever that may be: “They were signing up for their own first 5k, triathlon, taking on their own “epic” challenges. We even had a person that was fighting cancer post a picture and say ‘Sitting in chemo room at Aspirus Hospital watching your courage, strength, and determination is so motivating! Makes me say I GOT THIS!’” Esker smiles. “I want to keep inspiring people to give this a try.”
In 2018, Esker will build on his Epic5 Challenge in more ways than one. His training group has created the Northern Soles 1000 Challenge: 7 days of “iron-distance plus” triathlons across the state of Wisconsin totaling 1000 miles, ending with a race at Ironman Wisconsin. In true “Chad fashion,” as Jennifer says, there will be elements of altruism and community: “He will incorporate special events throughout the communities he will pass through where community can join in on the event with him and come out to support a local charity for the day. Chad wants to make sure that while he achieves his dreams, someone else is achieving theirs too.”