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The Extra Mile: Triathlon

LEXINGTON, Va. Nov. 22, 2023 — Discipline. It’s something that Virginia Military Institute instills in its cadets. Luke Rose ’24 said it’s integral in being part of the triathlon club.  

Rose, the cadet in charge (CIC) of the club, said the members focus on training for triathlons — which encompasses cycling, swimming and running.  VMI’s Triathlon Club members test their endurance and teamwork with every pedal, stroke, and stride.

The team, which is made up of eight people, practices twice a week, either focusing on swimming or biking. Rose, an international studies major, said running is mainly done individually, on each cadet’s own time.  

“Most people are proficient in two of the subjects and then work on the third,” Peyton Reingruber ’23, a civil and environmental engineering major. said. “So, more common than not, people are usually getting into cycling. It's not a very common sport.” 

Rose said cycling is a demanding sport and credits their coach, Brian Frazier, in training them, especially with cycling. A lot of the athletes on the team are training up to 15 hours a week.  

"He's done a great job with helping us progress in our cycling and that's kind of where his expertise is,” Rose said. “Most people who show up here have ran before or used to run.” 

Part of the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club, the VMI Triathlon Club participates in several competitions throughout the year. They focus on two types of triathlons — sprint and Olympic. Sprint is a half mile swim, 12.4 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. Olympic is a .93 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run.  

“Being a military school, it's pretty difficult,” Rose said about competing. “The season is more of a spring and summer season and then into early fall. So, we miss the kind of big conference events, which are in early September. Our main events that we really train up for are in the spring.” 

The main goal: go to the national championship. Last year, the event was held in Georgia, and Rose said everyone finished and it got competitive. This spring, the championship will be held in California.  VMI’s Triathlon Club members test their endurance and teamwork with every pedal, stroke, and stride.

‘It’s a sweat-fest' 

They utilize VMI’s Aquatic Center for swimming practice, while they take to the streets around Lexington atop a bicycle. Most of the team have their own bike, but there are team bikes available for use. 

But what happens when the weather turns cold? That’s when they sweat it out in Cocke Hall on stationary bikes for about an hour and a half. 

“It’s a sweat fest,” Rose said. “It's a room with no windows or anything. Just put on some music and work really hard.” 

Andrew Wright ’25, an economics and business major, joined the club last spring. He said he grew up watching his father do long distance events in running and cycling. When he found out VMI had a triathlon club, he was on board.

“I think my favorite part is just learning just learning how to do it better,” he said. “I'm pretty new to cycling. Coach Brian has been great and helped me figure out how to become more efficient and become a better cyclist. I grew up swimming a good bit but didn't really have the technique or anything like that or had never done a lot of endurance or long swims. So I’m learning new things, and just becoming better at this fun sport.” 

Reingruber said his mother did triathlons while he was growing up, but he never participated in them until after Breakout. He was an avid swimmer in high school. 

“I'd say my favorite part is people's dedication to go that extra mile and do more than what they already are doing,” he said. “Most of the team or at least half is planning on commissioning on top of academics and everything. So, to spend four hours a week just on practices, roughly, that's a big time commitment. To see some people come out and have a good attitude and work hard is really uplifting, especially if someone's having like a hard day.” VMI’s Triathlon Club members test their endurance and teamwork with every pedal, stroke, and stride.

Rose said physical activity, especially in this club, acts as a cleanser. 

"Not only is it productive to your overall health, but I think it also benefits the mind greatly,” he said. “Instead of just going and playing some video games to blow off steam, you’re going to do something physical and work on yourself. It kind of gives you that mental reset, so by the time you're done, you go shower, you're ready to go again to go work on academics. I think that's very beneficial to cadets, especially.” 

His favorite part — club members showing up and working hard. 

“Practices aren't necessarily always a fun, jolly time,” he said. “We go out there and we work really hard, and I think it builds a lot of camaraderie and builds us as a team, you kind of get to know each other a little more when you're really suffering through some of the tougher workouts. It's pretty awesome to see the team come together and support each other.” 

Laura Peters Shapiro
Photos by Cadet Andrew Partridge '24
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