Wassner Twins Ready To Tackle The Big Apple

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After finishing 1-2 in 2010, triathlete twins Rebeccah and Laurel Wassner return to race NYC this weekend.

As resident New Yorkers, identical twins Laurel and Rebeccah Wassner are anomalies among professional triathletes. After all, the city lacks the lung-busting altitude and endless mountain trails other triathletes thrive on in, say, Boulder or Tucson. It’s certainly no picnic navigating a bike through the midtown masses. Besides, where can you store bike and the rest of your gear in a tiny apartment, anyway?

Still, Laurel and Bec (who just so happen to be my older sisters) say they’d never live anywhere else. As the reigning Nautica New York City champion (Bec) and runner-up (Laurel), they’re gearing up for what they hope will be a repeat performance on their home turf at the 2011 race Aug. 7. A few weeks before the race, my sisters and I grabbed coffee at a cafe near their Tribeca apartments to chat about why, as triathletes, they heart N.Y.

Sarah Wassner Flynn: Why live in New York — besides being close to me?

Rebeccah: Well, having you and [older sister] Aliza and our niece and nephews all so close is definitely a plus. Also, my husband John’s job is here. I was planning to move when we first met, but he told me he’d make me a better deal if I stayed. There are so many great things about living in New York that I would definitely miss if I didn’t live here.

Laurel: Plus, we were here for other careers before triathlon. I worked in magazines as a photo editor and Bec was working at Deloitte as a CPA, so there were a lot more options work-wise. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to function without the diversity, energy and creativity New York provides.

Sarah: Yeah, but how do you manage to get your mileage in without having to eat exhaust for breakfast?

Rebeccah: We have to maximize on the mornings, before the city really becomes alive. For example, this morning, we were out the door by 5 a.m., on our bikes headed up to Central Park. The park opens up to cars at 7, so we have to be finished before then or else it becomes too hectic.

Sarah: And it’s not like you’re alone when you venture out at 5 a.m.

Rebeccah: Not at all. Central Park is filled with driven athletes who are all doing the same thing we are. This city is teeming with triathletes — and really fast ones, too. Every morning in the park is like a party: I see so many people I know and we can get in awesome training rides and runs all before 7:30 a.m.

Sarah: Where else besides Central Park do you train?

Laurel: Another great thing about living in New York is that we have access to world-class facilities. I do most of my swims and runs at Chelsea Piers Sports Center. It’s a USA Triathlon-certified training center and one of the fastest triathlon teams in the nation, Full Throttle Endurance, is based there. I’ll also pop in to New York Athletic Club for a swim.

Rebeccah: I love to run on the path next to the West Side Highway near my apartment in Tribeca. It’s a nice, flat stretch of pavement that goes for miles along the Hudson River. The scenery is spectacular and there’s always some great people-watching to do.

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