RM 10Q's with Triathlete Mark Tripp

Engineer by day, Professional Triathlete while the rest of us sleep

Our goal at RaceMill.com is to try an inspire fellow athletes to new endurance greatness, and it’s even more exciting to find an athlete that many of us weekend warriors can really relate to.  That is Mark Tripp in a nutshell.  By day Mark is an Engineer at one of the world’s largest aerospace companies, by morning and night, he is a world class triathlete who found his niche in Olympic Distance races.  In March he was given an honorable mention for Triathlete of the Year by USA Triathlon.  Later that month he wore the yellow jersey after the time trial in the San Dimas Stage Race - yes, a road race - and finished 2nd overall in Cat 5.  And just to round out his Spring, Mark raced his first two professional ITU races in Mexico this past weekend and one back in March.  We were able to catch Mark on a recent lunch break to learn a little more about what makes this modern day Clark Kent tick.  Here’s Mark ....

Name Mark Tripp

Age 34





RM: Athlete that inspires you?

MT: At this point I'd have to say it is the guy that is at the top of triathlon and undoubtedly the most well-rounded triathlete, Javier Gomez.  The fact that in 2014 he won the World Triathlon Series (WTS) title and the following week raced and won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship is just remarkable.  

RM: How many years have you been competing?

MT: I have been racing triathlon since 2010.  That's the short story.  The long story is that I swam competitively from the age of 6 to 13.  Other than the occasional 5K or 10K running race in college for stress relief, I didn't do much in terms of endurance sports until I was 28.  Living in Southern California, I realized I was not taking advantage of the wonderful weather, so I decided to go back to my swimming roots and join my local masters outdoor swim workouts.  At the same time I started running and a friend eventually convinced me to purchase a bike and give triathlon a try.  I did my first sprint triathlon a week later and was fairly successful given my minimal preparation.  Each following year I have gotten more serious with the sport.

RM: What fuels your competitiveness?

MT: I don't know if there is anything in particular that fuels my competitiveness.  I think it is just in me.  Some people are competitive in nature, and some aren't.  I'd say that racing gives me a mental boost of motivation to train hard and prepare for the next race.  So, maybe it is the act participating in competition that fuels my competitiveness.  It's like an addictive drug.

RM: How many hours do you train each week? 

MT: I’d say I put in 10-18 hours each week.  I usually swim or ride before work and ride or run after work, and save the long workouts for the weekends.

RM: Where’s your favorite place to train? 

MT: I ride mostly close to home so that means a lot in Palos Verdes.  But I get bored of the same places so I like to head out to the Santa Monica Mountains.  I swim with Begg Masters and coach Steve Hyde.  I typically run with Club Ed after work, and I occasionally get to train alongside Keith Dickson, a former All-American swimmer, and he gives me lots of useful tips.

RM: Lone wolf or training companion? why?

MT: For the most part I prefer to train with a partner or group.  Training can get boring at times and seem like a chore, so having others present to keep you motivated can be really beneficial.  I think it is also very important to train with the correct group based on your training goals.  Whether it's primarily for social interaction or more for performance improvement, it is good to find partners that have the same training objectives so that you can collectively benefit from the group dynamics.  That being said, there are times when I do prefer to put in a good solo training session.  Often when there is a lot going on in my life outside of triathlon, going on solo run or bike ride can provide a good time to organize my thoughts.  Solo training can be my way of active meditation.

RM: Do you prefer to ride with road group? 

MT: Because I’ll be racing in draft legal races, riding with a group helps those skills.  I usually ride with the South Bay Donut ride, or the Nichols ride on weekends.  Riding with the group helps with pushing the pace and pushing myself as compared to riding solo.

RM: You mentioned you are training for Olympic Distance events, do you have a preference? 

MT: I’ve done a couple Ironman 70.3’s, but  I’ve chosen to focus on Olympic Distance since that compliments my skillset.  Swimming is a larger percentage of the race compared to the other distances.  Especially with the draft legal races, it helps to get a decent lead heading into the bike so you can stay with the pack, otherwise you’re just trying to catch up. As an amateur I’ve been at the front of the pack, but at the pro level there are a lot of great athletes so I expect the swimmers to be faster.   Olympic distance also fits in better with the amount of time I have to train - I like to train hard.  

RM: What are you training for now?

MT: For 2015 I am going to focus on Olympic distance triathlon and do a mixture of draft-legal and non-draft racing.  The next two races on my calendar are ITU Continental Cup races in La Paz, Mexico on March 20th and Monterrey, Mexico on May 2nd.  In addition to triathlon, I also plan to do several local open water swim races as well as the occasional running or cycling race.

RM: Pinnacle racing moment so far?

MT: I'd say that would be finishing 1st amateur at St. Anthony's Triathlon in 2014.  That was my first big race of the year and I executed my race exactly as I had envisioned it.  It was also where I qualified for my elite license and it set me up for a solid year of racing in 2014.

RM: As you transition from racing as an amateur to a pro, has that changed the amount of pressure you put on yourself going into a race? 

MT: I raced my first race earlier this month at a college race in San Diego with several elite development racers and it was pretty eye opening.  Fortunately I’m not trying to make a living racing as a pro so I don’t have that type of pressure to go out and win.  I’m treating this like another challenge, so there’s not too much pressure.  But at 34 [years old] I don’t have a long racing career left, so I can’t just show up to a race.

RM: Weekend trip... where to? What do you bring? Your car, pet and gear? 

MT: Because my triathlon off-season has gotten shorter and shorter every year, I have had less time to participate in one of my favorite non-triathlon sports...skiing.  So, my ideal weekend trip would be a road trip up to Mammoth Mountain with all my ski gear a few friends.  The other thing I would bring is a huge snowstorm that dumps a few feet of powder and some way to magically prevent anyone from being on the mountain (other than me and my friends, of course).  

RM: Do you have a dream race you want to create?

MT: That's a tough one because it seems like there are so many great races people have already created.  I really like exploring new places on my bike, both urban and rural areas.  So, I guess my dream race would be a bicycle road race that wound through the streets of Los Angeles.  Since this is a dream race I'd want all of the streets to be freshly paved and of course not a car in sight.

RM: Outside of triathlon, what other events are on your calendar?  

MT: Pier to Pier swim since it’s right here in the South Bay.  I will also try and do the Newport Ocean swims.  Priority is triathlon schedule.

RM: What are your tips for new triathletes? 

MT: Start simple.  Build up your distance.  Start with a sprint, move up to an Olympic, and then longer.  Improve your gear as you go and figure out what races fit you best.  Do it for fun and consider joining a triathlon club.

RM: Who are your sponsors?

MT: I have been racing for TriSports.com since 2011 and am continuing with them in 2015.  They took a chance on me when I was still a newbie and have provided tremendous support over the past four seasons.  I am also sponsored by Honey Stinger and am excited to be in talks with XTERRA Wetsuits.  

RM: What do you like to listen to when you train?

MT: I usually need to listen to a full album during my training.  So, here are of some of my favorite albums to train to.  Any track off of these albums is great for training.

The Bedlam in Goliath by The Mars Volta

Lateralus by Tool

Awake by Dream Theater

Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites by Skrillex

Frizzle Fry by Primus

Vivid by Living Colour

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