Jeff Fairbanks doesn’t like swimming. He doesn’t like biking, either. He doesn’t even like running. But he is a dedicated triathlete.
“Triathlons were a new adventure and something that seemed so unrealistic when the thought first popped into my head,” Fairbanks says. “I’ve been involved in different sports growing up, and initially thought I had no shot at completing something that involved sports I had no interest in, nor experience with.”
Though semi-professional surfing, mixed martial arts and motocross were all part of Fairbanks’ pre-triathlete life, they all only involved the practice of one sport. And while swimming, biking and running did not appeal to him individually, they posed a new and exciting challenge to him together.
As time passed and Fairbanks started to see himself as a triathlete, he saw an inspiring documentary. It portrayed an individual’s journey of taking on a new craft and went on to share the stories of others who had done the same. This led Fairbanks to consider a hole that he had come across in the athletic showcase documentaries he had seen. While he was familiar with documentaries that specifically targeted professional or amateur athletes, he had not come across a composition that appealed to broad audience of people at all levels of ability.
Thus, he was motivated to develop a mission: to showcase triathletes who have a unique story that everyone can find relatable. He calles it the Triumph Project, and there are now 23 sponsors supporting its progress.
“Not many people I know have 30-40 hours a week to dedicate to training,” Fairbanks says. “For me, it’s imperative for viewers to relate to the featured athletes.”
The documentary will feature Fairbanks himself, as well as triathletes Rachel McBride, Dave Mirra and Jack Toland, all of which he describes to have had atypical paths to life as a triathlete. They hope to complete an organic compilation of film for the documentary by the end of 2016, which is something Fairbanks believes to be essential in order to capture an accurate image of the triathletes.
“This is key in presenting an edgy, artistic take on an interdependent sport,” he says. “I’ve always been someone that works off the cuff, and I’ve surrounded myself with a great team of people to synergize with such an approach.”
Another goal that Fairbanks hopes to capture with this documentary is the importance of support from a community. Considering triathlons were initially completely foreign to him, Fairbanks had felt unsure about trying them out. He ended up stumbling upon a second foreign experience—discovering a community of triathletes—that was so positive it motivated him to continue.
“It’s completely unlike anything else I’ve been involved with,” he says. “Conveying that sense community throughout this documentary is important to me, as it’s something that sticks with you beyond just crossing the finish line.”
Ultimately, The Triumph Project aims to inspire as many people as possible try to something new in life rather than hold back.
“It’s not about being the best, or the fastest, but an individual accomplishing something out of their comfort zone,” Fairbanks says. “From there, you build.”