Triathlon is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and everyone is chomping at the bit to try one—including celebrities. From football players to television stars, famous faces are showing up at triathlons across the U.S. to give multisport a try.
Like most other triathletes, celebrities find their way to triathlon because of friends and fitness. Joe Bastianich, who is currently a judge on the FOX series MasterChef, completed a handful of triathlons this summer while working to open his new restaurant, Eataly. "As a marathon runner, I wanted to up the intensity," said Bastianich, who just recently completed the Westchester Toughman Triathlon in September. "Triathlons being so multidisciplinary—they really push the boundaries of a mind-over-body sport."
Bastianich is not the only celebrity chef to embrace the multisport lifestyle. Rocco Dispirito was in Clearwater, Florida, for the 2009 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, and knows that proper nutrition is a big part of competing in triathlon. He uses his athleticism to create healthy recipes, like those in his new book, Now Eat This! which features 150 recipes for "comfort foods" with less than 350 calories.
One of the more popular events in the celebrity circle is the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in Malibu, California. Names that are familiar because of their presence on television and the big screen, like Teri Hatcher, James Marsden, Jason Lee and William H. Macy, are just a small percentage of the participants of this race, which has been known to sell out.
Besides fitness, some athletes are drawn to triathlon because of the philanthropic aspect. The Nautica Malibu Triathlon, for example, raises funds for the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. At the 2009 event, more than $1,000,000 was raised to benefit the hospital's Pediatric Cancer Research Program.
Other celebrities take a more direct approach to fundraising through multisport. The winner of the first season of The Bachelorette, Ryan Sutter, makes his rounds on the triathlon circuit as part of his "10 10 10 Challenge," a charity initiative to do 10 endurance sporting events in 2010. Through this program, Sutter works with First Descents, a charity committed to providing outdoor adventure therapy at no cost to young adults with cancer.
"Triathlon provides a platform for me to challenge myself on many levels," said Sutter. "Each event is an opportunity to compete against the course, the time and the many physical and emotional hurdles that reveal themselves along the way."
Triathletes of any background can be inspiring, although the celebrity spotlight can certainly help raise awareness, both to the sport and to any philanthropic endeavors. "We are honored to have Ryan in the First Descents family," said Rebekah Koenigbauer, a spokesperson for the organization. "His support of our mission has always been appreciated, but this year he took things to another level with his 10 10 10 Challenge. His commitment to this challenge has inspired the First Descents staff, the campers that we serve and other team members. Ryan is a first class athlete and a first class person."
The list of celebrities tackling triathlon continues to grow as the sport gains popularity throughout the U.S. and the world. Well-known actors are amongst those that have jumped at the chance to compete in a triathlon, including Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Felicity Huffman, Jon Cryer and Will Ferrell. Even professionals with ties to other sports have given triathlon a try. Indycar racer Vitor Meira, San Diego Padre Heath Bell, past NFL stars Coleman Rudolph, Max Lane, and Ted Johnson, and ESPN journalist Steve Levy have joined the ranks of hundreds of thousands who call themselves triathletes.
Celebrities show that no matter what the claim to fame is, there's always time for healthy hobbies like triathlon. Many celebrities are making commitments to do races like the Nautica Malibu Triathlon year after year, proving that it's easy to get hooked on the sport. Though training for a triathlon may take some time, stars are finding a way to fit it into their hectic schedules, just like other triathletes do.
It's clear that regardless of schedules and spotlights, triathlon is more than just a sport—it's truly a lifestyle. "What compels me to keep doing triathlons is proving the notion that anything is possible," said Dispirito. "I am a flat-footed, overweight chef with a crooked back. If I can do it, anyone can."Sign up for a triathlon and start your multi-sport journey today.
Lindsay Wyskowski is the content coordinator at USA Triathlon.
This article was originally published in USA Triathlon Life magazine. USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the national governing body for triathlon--the fastest growing sport in the world - as well as duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon in the United States. Visit usatriathlon.org. Follow Lindsay Wyskowski on Google+