Meet Magician And Triathlete Rob Lake

Illusionist Rob Lake is a wizard on the stage—and on the race course.

Photo: Ed Gregory

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Illusionist Rob Lake is a wizard on the stage—and on the race course.

During his award-winning magic show, Rob Lake makes helicopters disappear and large armored trucks full of cash appear. He saws women in half and levitates through hoops of fire.

He has yet to figure out how to make bike box fees disappear at the airport, however.

“If I could do that, I’d be quite the wizard!” Lake laughs. “Normally I just hide it in a case with my illusions and send it on a truck instead.”

The 33-year-old magician from Norman, Okla., travels the world 360 days a year, wowing audiences with his mind-boggling illusions. He is also in high demand as a set designer for Broadway, creating illusions for such shows as “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

A few years ago, as a way to stay in shape on the road, Lake took up the separate disciplines of swimming, cycling and running. It was a natural progression, then, to toe the line of his first sprint triathlon, where he immediately fell in love with racing. Today, Lake averages about 10 triathlons a year, mostly sprint-distance events at locations where he performs shortly after crossing the finish line.

The sport has helped Lake endure 16-hour days of rehearsals and shows, a feat that requires serious stamina: “My show is like doing lots of sprints non-stop for 2 hours, then repeating immediately with another show back to back. Doing this six days a week, two times a night is sometimes like doing many triathlons a week.”

The physicality of Lake’s show, coupled with a grueling travel schedule, would leave most people lacking in motivation to do most anything else. Lake, however, can be found lacing up for a run or hitting a pool almost every day.

“I like kicking my own butt,” Lake says. “I travel with running shoes, swim stuff and a bike whenever I can. If I can’t bring my own gear, I make sure to find an intense spin class or make my own workout in a gym. The time of day that I work out varies, but I always do my best to make it happen.”

Though most wouldn’t be able to find many—if any—parallels between triathlon and magic, Lake insists the two are fundamentally similar: “A triathlon takes months of preparing, training and aligning all aspects of life, like diet and rest. My show does too. Both require these things in order to execute your plan well.”

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