We asked for your help to find the most amazing triathletes for our annual Triathlete cover contest. And you shared incredible stories of athletes who live the triathlife, help their communities, and give back and grow the sport. Each of these five athletes deserves to be on our cover—but we can only pick one. That’s why we need your help!
Read their stories below (as told by those who nominated them) and then vote for your favorite. Voting closes Saturday, July 10 at 11:59 p.m. MT. Votes will be combined with editors’ picks to determine the winner. Please only vote one time.
Bronx, New York
Nicole is my wife, and the mother of our son, so she means the world to me. But as biased as I might be, I think even a neutral observer would have to acknowledge that she is an amazing athlete and ambassador in the world of multisport. She has raced a total of six national and world championship duathlons and triathlons, and placed top three in her age group at all six. Her first nationals race ended in her winning the 40-44 AG at duathlon nationals, just six months after giving birth to our son. (She was nursing him ten minutes before the race.) Most recently, she came in 3rd overall, and won the 50-54 AG at off-road tri nationals this past May. She does all this while maintaining her career as a middle and high school math teacher, and raising our son, Simon.
Nicole is of Jamaican-Chinese descent, and was born in Kingston, JA. She came to the United States as a child, and became a American citizen over 10 years ago. Knowing full well that women of color are not usually well represented in our sport, Nicole is working to help grow minority participation in the sport. Last year she (and I) co-coached a triathlon class for middle school kids, that was made up primarily of girls of color. (We have another class planned for next week.) She has a passion for bringing new athletes to the sport, and embraces her position as a role model.
If you’re looking for an athlete who is competitive, gives back to the sport, and defies expectations, Nicole’s the one.
2020 was a rough year for Matt. As a doctor, he was working at the ER, while completing the required three-month certification to transition into private practice. At the same time, his mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His boss called one weekend and said he was taking him off the schedule, permanently. They couldn’t afford to keep him on staff anymore. He had three months of forced no work before he could start at his new position, in the middle of a pandemic, while his mother was entering hospice. He started his new job and continued to serve his patients—taking all the COVID-19 precautions and wearing PPE. Then, his mother passed away. Then, he broke up with his girlfriend. He needed something positive. His friends asked him if he wanted to do the Six Gap Century Ride in Georgia in September. That’s where I met him, the love of my life. Since that time, Matt caught the triathlete bug while training alongside me and signed up for his first half-Ironman, Chattanooga 70.3 in May 2021, raising $1,750 to compete on behalf of Ironman Foundation. Donating money to the city we would be racing in is something he thought his mother would’ve liked. Putting in crazy hours at work and training, getting up at 5 a.m. for a trainer ride, seeing a panel of patients, then going to Masters at 7:30 at night, Matt is the most dedicated, hard-working, and selfless person I know. He volunteers as a sports medicine doctor for a local high school football team, logging late nights, and is one of the team doctors for the soccer team, the Tampa Bay Rowdies. He has volunteered for the medical tent at Ironman Florida and Haines City. He is passionate that “exercise is medicine,” and whether it’s his patients or training partners, he wants to help everyone stay healthy while doing the sport we love. He is the most thoughtful person—training at a slower pace with me, motivating me, making my bottles, putting my bike on the trainer, making our pre-race breakfast at 3:45 a.m. He is the most inspiring person I know and I am very blessed.
Lisa Marshall is a strong advocate for triathlon and has built a growing community of youth triathletes over the past several years. Coach Lisa has helped my 13- and 15-year-old daughters find true joy in the sport. We will forever be grateful for the work she’s done to organize outstanding training camps, age-appropriate workouts, team travel logistics, clear communications, and intense Zoom sessions for her Multisport Explosion teams. She has done an especially great job keeping athlete families motivated and interested in triathlon through all the COVID shutdowns and pandemic protocols. My family has grown closer to each other, and my girls have grown closer to their teammates under coach Lisa’s direction. She emphasizes the importance of positive self-talk, personal responsibility, hard work, dynamic warm-ups, adequate rest, a growth mindset, and the value of consistency. She makes training and racing both fun and challenging for the kids.
New York, New York
As my older brother, Dixon is the reason I and many others, including our dad and brother-in-law, got into triathlons in the first place. I watched him race in his first triathlon in 2010 without any prior background in the sport and knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Fast forward to present day, I’ve now seen Dixon compete in all distances from sprint to Ironman, along the way qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, U.S. Age-Group National Championships, and Boston Marathon. His enthusiasm for the sport is infectious and he’s spread that energy to others as well. He’s volunteered as a running guide for Achilles International and has guided blind runners in the New York City Marathon and Brooklyn Half-Marathon. Most recently, he captained a four-man team to compete in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2020, a 3,000-mile unsupported rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean for charity. His team, Latitude 35, finished second in the Race Class Division and third overall, after 36 days at sea—making him the 55th American to ever row across the Atlantic. His team encountered 30-plus foot waves, storms, a marlin attack, extreme sleep deprivation, and weight loss, among other challenges. They raised over $250,000 for four different charities, of which more than $60,000 was donated to Achilles International. Dixon is back to training for triathlons on a New York City-based elite amateur triathlon team called Full Throttle Endurance, which he’s been a member of for a decade. His next races are Ironman 70.3 Michigan and Ironman 70.3 World Championships. He hopes to attempt to qualify for Kona next as well. Dixon’s dedication to the sport of triathlon and community has been unwavering and I look forward to seeing what’s next on his endurance journey!
This is a portion of a thank you letter that my husband wrote to the Ironman Virtual Club/Ironman and Mike Reilly (the Voice of Ironman) to thank him for helping with the gender reveal for our second child and thank Ironman for holding all the virtual races. Brian has completed every Ironman VR race since 2020 (All 56!) and hasn’t missed running at least one mile each day for 11 years on this coming July 2nd! (Over 4,000 in a row!)
It was a no brainer to keep completing the VR races into 2021, but just like every other member of the Ironman family, balancing work, family, and life presents challenges. That beautiful baby girl that Mike Reilly announced back in September made her appearance on January 28th so completing VR4 of 2021 was more challenging than usual in a wonderful way. Throughout this journey through unprecedented times, the Ironman Virtual Races have been a beacon of light helping me and many others navigate through the stormy waters of 2020 and 2021. I credit a lot of my productivity and stability during the pandemic to the motivation provided by the Ironman Virtual Club events with the love and support of my amazing family as the foundation! Trying my best to give back throughout 2020 and 2021 I was fortunate to help coordinate a couple food drives, lead family and coworkers in physical activity challenges, and even help give back to the smallest members of my community by leading a Book and Pajama drive at my Clinic. Truly the greatest joy in life is not always in what we get, but what we give. Stealing somewhat from Ironman, our family saying is “Be Kind, Be Brave, and Always Believe… Anything is Possible!” As the world starts to slowly transition back to where we can gather and have the joy of hearing Mike Reilly call us to the finish line in person, do not forget to “Set Big Goals, Work Hard, and Get Them!” Of special note, it brought me true joy in November of 2020 when Chris Nikic became the first person with Downs Syndrome to complete the Ironman Triathlon. I’m so excited to watch him cross the finish line in Kona this October, something that sits on the top of my own personal bucket list. See you all at our next Ironman Finish Line!