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Randall Emmett is a wildly successful Hollywood producer with more than 75 movie credits to his name, including “Lone Survivor, “2 Guns,” and the upcoming Martin Scorcese film “Silence.” Until less than a year ago, he was also 30 pounds overweight, beset with stress and living on a diet of fast food and milkshakes.
“A friend who was doing Ironman races told me I should try it, and I laughed and kept stuffing my face,” Emmett says. “But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.” While in San Diego for business, on a whim he called trainer Katya Meyers and agreed to meet her at a bike shop. Twenty minutes later, Emmett had everything he’d need to compete in his first triathlon.
Meyers suggested the Santa Barbara Triathlon for Emmett’s first event, as it was nearby, the timing was right and the race had one of the best reputations in the sport. “It put the fear of God in me,” says Emmett, who admits he didn’t tell anyone other than his wife that he was training for fear that he wouldn’t actually go through with it.
By race day a few months later, Emmett was down 15 pounds and feeling good. Still, he admits the experience was one of the toughest of his life. “Between the emotion and the pain, I had actual tears streaming down my face during the run. I turned to Katya and I said, ‘I’m never doing this again.’” As Emmett crossed the finish line, however, his 4-year-old daughter hugged him and put his finisher’s medal around his neck—and everything changed. “I’d never felt so proud of anything I’ve ever done,” he says. “It changed my life. I turned to Katya again and said, ‘So when’s our next race?’”
Emmett ramped up his training after Santa Barbara, and just four weeks later he won his age group and came in fifth overall at the Newport Beach Triathlon. He befriended six-time Ironman champion Luke McKenzie and the two sometimes travel and compete together. Today Emmett’s office boasts nearly a dozen triathlon medals and trophies, which he admits trump his many movie awards in both placement and pride.
Since he discovered the sport of triathlon, Emmett says scores of friends have signed up as well. “They say if I can do it, anybody can,” Emmett insists. “The great thing about this sport is that when you embrace it, it embraces you back. You really can be part of it at any level, from super-sprint to Ironman.”
This August, Emmett won’t just be participating in the Santa Barbara Triathlon alongside his friend McKenzie; his production company, Emmett/Furla Oasis Films, is also the proud co-ed sprint course sponsor. “The most overwhelming moment of my triathlon career happened in Santa Barbara,” he says. “I can never have that again anywhere, and no other event I’ve participated in has what this one has. Everyone here, from the staff and volunteers to the thousands of spectators, is so supportive and encouraging. That made a huge difference in my mental commitment.”