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Let’s start at the end.
Ken Rideout, age 50, ran a 1:10 half-marathon in Nashville in November, just two weeks after running the New York City Marathon. At New York, Rideout ran a 2:33, not only winning the 50-54 age group (by 16 minutes!) but, also, winning the overall Master’s division for athletes over 40. Just one month earlier, he had traveled to London for the “Abbott World Marathon Majors Wanda Age Group World Championships” (yes, that’s the official name). He ran from the front of his designated elite age group wave from start to finish—but, another competitor in his age group ran in a different wave, out of sight. His amazing 2:29 was less than one minute behind the winning time. “It was $%^& that this guy didn’t run in the championship wave. If he had, and I’d have seen him, I would’ve beaten his ass,” said Rideout.
And, believe me, Ken Rideout is a fighter. Growing up in a very tough section of Boston, he went to a boxing gym while in high school. He wanted to feel more confident when he did get into the inevitable fights in his neighborhood. At age 18, he worked as a guard at the same prison as his stepdad and brother. No, his stepdad and brother didn’t work there with him; they were inmates.
This is not a story about some rich kid having all the advantages or someone born with some amazing genes. This is a story about a fighter, about someone who goes after everything with a warrior mentality, including triathlon.
When Rideout saw the Ironman World Championships on TV, he thought: “How is that even possible?” He took the challenge, and bought a bike. After he rode with a few work colleagues who were regular cyclists and he saw that he was not just able to ride with them but excel, he signed up for a duathlon in New York’s Central Park. He finished 20th overall. His instant takeaway in this new sport: “It’s just a matter of training and suffering.”
It took him two tries at Ironman in 2011 and 2012 to qualify for Kona, doing so with a 10:14 at the inaugural—and only—Ironman New York City. He had already done a prior Ironman (Texas) in 2012, so Kona was his third full in just six months, and it took its toll. He DNF’d. Vowing not to let anything beat him again, he went back and qualified at Ironman Canada the next year and returned with solid 9:39 in Kona six weeks later.
A combination of factors pulled Rideout away from triathlon and into trail running, falling in love with the trails when he moved to southern California. He quickly developed a standard routine of running every single morning: 10 miles with 1,200 feet of climbing. He jumped into the L.A. Marathon in 2017, did a respectable 2:40:06, and has improved every year since. In fact, he has had a PR in one distance or another every year since he was 35.
Even with the full-time running period, he did do a few more triathlons and his results were often on the top of the age-group podium. So, why the complete departure from multisport? With a wife, four kids, a weekly podcast with the infamous boxing expert Teddy Atlas, and a new inventory finance company he is starting up, triathlon just takes too much time, he said. Plus, with running “you can be anonymous and whoop ass.” Ever the fighter.
Barry Siff went from President of USA Triathlon to, now, an advisor to USA Boxing. He is also going back to ultra running this year.