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There were a few people who really stood out in 2021 with multiple world-class performances. Flora Duffy or Kristian Blummenfelt, for instance. But, who can name the one athlete who not only won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, but also both the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon just four weeks apart?
The answer: 70 year-old Mike Wien. Wien won an age-group world title in the 70.3 at the end of September, then won his age-group title at Boston on Oct. 11 and followed that up with another age-group win in New York on Nov. 7. And, the marathons were run in 3:29 and 3:34, respectively, after an impressive 5:52 on the tough St. George 70.3 course—again, at 70 years old.
Wien’s New York time is of particular interest, as this is where he ran his first marathon way back in 1978 in 3:29, almost the same time as 43 years later. It was back then when his running really started and just one year later he qualified for Boston with a very fast 2:48 marathon. Then, in 2001, “I started looking for other forms of exercise to reduce stress on my legs, and entered the AARP Sprint Triathlon Series for people 50 and over,” he said.
As with running, his distances and performances increased, doing his first Ironman in Panama City in 2004, and qualifying for Kona in his second, Ironman Wisconsin 2005. Since 2004, Wien has considered himself a triathlete first and runner second; however, it is clear that running is his strength. “I have typically run one to two minutes per mile faster than most of my competitors, and that has made up for my average performance on the bike.”
Wien credits cross-training with being able to maintain his long-distance running pace as he has moved up in age groups. “I could maintain my cardiovascular levels without having to put in as many miles running,” he said. A typical week finds the diminutive Wien running about 28 miles and biking around 180 miles. Of course, these numbers go up when he gets into full-on Ironman training.
Now that he’s moved from Atlanta to Boulder, it’s afforded more epic and challenging rides—particularly his favorite up Lefthand Canyon and on to Brainard Lake at 10,300 feet elevation. This is consistent with his training philosophy: “Train in a beautiful area or train with inspiring people to stay with your plan and to avoid burnout.”
Besides a controlled training regimen, Wien focuses on a healthy diet of lots of fruits and vegetables, along with some fish and chicken. “I try to limit—not eliminate—the amount of fried foods, red meat, and dairy products, and only eat sugary desserts on special occasions. I drink one protein drink, light beer, and one non-alcoholic beer a day. On special occasions, I might have a second beer.” Yes, sometimes he gets wild!
I first met Wien in 2012, when he joined the Timex Multisport Team after finishing second in his age-group at Kona the prior year. A year later, he joined me on the USA Triathlon Board of Directors, serving as vice president from 2014 to 2018, and secretary in 2018-19. He was also a board member of the Atlanta Track Club from 2010 to 2018, when he moved to Boulder. This speaks to another of Wien’s triathlon philosophies: giving back.
And of course his biggest philosophy of all: not slowing down. Wien’s goals for 2022, at age 71, are seriously ambitious for any age: running the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim in two days, defending his age-group titles in Boston and New York, and his Ironman 70.3 world title, and finishing in the top three in his age-group at the Ironman World Championship in Kona in October. That’ll be a packed and epic year for an amazing, and age-defying, athlete.
Barry Siff, age 66, used to be able to run with Mike. He still runs, though, nearly everyday at his home in Tempe, Arizona.