4 Pros Share Their Craziest Travel Stories

Traveling the world to race isn’t all glitz and glamour.


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Getting from A to B is never as easy as it should be, especially when it comes to traveling for a race. So it’s no surprise that pro triathletes, who criss-cross the globe (with a bike!), have their fair share of epic travel stories. We asked a few of them to share their best tales—and they delivered.

Justin Metzler at the 2019 Ironman Ireland triathlon. Photo: Nigel Roddis /Getty Images for Ironman

Justin Metzler (USA)

Last year, I decided to race Ironman Ireland only three weeks before the event and had an impossible time finding accommodations. I eventually settled on the last thing available—a farm cottage seemingly custom-made for someone 5 feet tall. Being 6 foot 4 inches, I spent the entire week knocking my head on the ceiling and fixtures. I likely had a mild concussion heading into race day!

Lesley Paterson is a three-time XTERRA world champion. Photo: XTERRA

Lesley Patterson (GBR)

The course at XTERRA Philippines was epically wild and hot in the jungles and remote terrain. At the top of the climb, we escaped the dense foliage only to be met by a machete- wielding farmer! He was cutting open coconuts for athletes to drink from.

Jocelyn McCauley has traveled the world competing as a pro. Photo: Nick Morales

Jocelyn McCauley (USA)

On one of my first international trips as a pro, I had to delay the trip to get an emergency passport because in certain countries a passport has to be valid for six months after the flight date. And that was just the beginning. After unexpected flight changes, being left off a flight completely, and ending up in the Philippines for a night, my nightmare itinerary took me on a 13-hour layover in Hong Kong and then three more layovers to get home over 40 hours later. At least I got to see a bunch of airports!

James Cunnama at the 2018 Ironman World Championship. Photo: Oliver Baker

James Cunnama (RSA)

I went to the 2009 Embrunman triathlon in France knowing my Schengen visa (European visa) was expiring at midnight. I had a flight out of Nice (a six-hour drive from the race) 18 hours after the finish. Immediately after finishing third, my coach loaded me into his van, planning to do the drive, then pack the bike, sleep a bit at a hotel near the airport, and then fly out. We arrived in Nice at 2 a.m. on a holiday weekend and there were no hotels available. I was dropped at the airport at 3 a.m., unshowered with nothing packed, after being awake for over 24 hours—and completing one of the hardest iron- distance races in the world. And I had lost my multi-tool so I couldn’t pack my bike! It’s all a bit of a blur from there, but my bike and I made it onto that flight home (with apologies for the smell).