John Smith and Connor Smith with masks on at Asheville Triathlon

The overall female and male winners and new course record holders of the Asheville Triathlon in Hendersonville, were Jenn Stanton and Ricky Flynn.

Jenn Stanton is a pro triathlete from Charlotte, NC and had a time of 1:15:46. Ricky Flynn, also a pro triathlete and from Greenville, SC, completed the course in 58:23.

We asked each athlete a few questions about their training, their experience at the event, and what motivates them personally. We also asked how COVID-19 affected their training. Here are their answers. 

Jenn Stanton

1. What motivates you to be a triathlete?

I like to think of this question as “What is your why?” The list includes: When I am involved in sport, when I sweat, I am my sharpest self. Training sessions often help clear the cobwebs in my brain and give me a better headspace. I am more creative and stronger both mentally and physically. To be healthy and a positive example for my kids is so important, and I believe this is one way to model values I hope to pass along to them. Having purpose in educating them, other athletes, and beyond is, also, easily a part of my why. Lastly, I’m so thankful for a body that allows me to do the things I love. So as long as I can, I’m pretty sure I will.

2. You have two kids! How do you manage to juggle everything? (training, being a mom, coaching, etc.)

This is a great question! Some days I’m not sure how it all gets done, hah! I don’t pretend to always do it well, but we make it work. Being creative and adaptable is key. Some days I wake up at 5 am to knock out a workout or work, and other days I don’t get to my own personal training until 2 pm and am up late on the computer. Some days I bike on the trainer and do a run off the bike up and down the street when the kids are home, and other times pre-Covid we’ve scheduled weekend babysitters for long run dates. My husband is a teacher, so it’s nice to have him home over the summer when kids are also home from school - we are usually passing the baton for workouts, work, and kids.

3. How often do you train and how long have you been training?

I did my first triathlon the weekend before my high school graduation and I guess the rest was history. I felt a little lost with no formality to my athletics for a time, but running road races and competing in local triathlons while I coached high school runners in college helped fill that part of me that loved to train and race. It was a stress reliever and hobby through school and a bonding factor when dating my now husband. After school I was inspired to take it more seriously each consecutive year as I made new goals for myself, which helped me through a few life moves, postpartum times, and beyond. So, it’s been almost 2 decades now that I’ve considered myself a triathlete. Training ebbs and flows. I probably average 10 hours a week depending on what I’m training for, which over the last few years has maxed out at the 70.3 distance.

4. Have you always been athletic? What was your childhood like regarding sports?

I first joined my neighborhood swim team at 4 years old, followed by basketball, year-round soccer, volleyball, varsity soccer/track/cross country. My parents had me do a season of just about every sport when I was young including t-ball, ballet, and gymnastics. I settled into my athletic career as a summer league swimmer, soccer player, and runner. So, yes, I guess I’ve always participated in sports - have been better at some more than others 😉 Riding my bike to and from swim practice with friends in the summer is one of my favorite childhood memories, so I maybe I was destined to one day be a triathlete.

5. I read that you podiumed your debut Ironman. Congrats! Can you tell me a little about that experience?

I podiumed at Gulf Coast 70.3 which was my second 70.3 but my first IRONMAN branded race. I was training that year for IRONMAN Florida and Gulf Coast was my half way point. I had a great day and give a ton of credit to my coach, Kelly Fillnow, for helping me get to that podium spot.

6. How did you hear about the Asheville Triathlon?

I think my first year doing the race was 2010. We were living near Asheville that summer, my husband and I love the local race scene, we stumbled across it and signed up!

7. This was the first time we held the Asheville Triathlon in Hendersonville, COVID style. What did you think about the location and the changes we had to put in place to allow for social distancing?

It was such a fun morning. iDaph did a fabulous job putting on the event with the location switch - everything from the drive through packet pick up to a rolling swim start and finish line bags to-go. It was definitely a different race day experience, but it worked.

8. If we have the Asheville Tri again, would you join us again?

Absolutely!

9. How did COVID affect your training?

With remote learning and everyone home my new normal became the 2 - 4 pm training window after executing at-home school. I ventured to the lake some to get swims in and did almost all biking and running at or close to home. Thankfully, my kids understand and are used to our days including swim/bike/run. Some days it has looked like ‘recess’ riding bikes on the greenway while mom runs and others it looks like ‘do anything but enter the guest room while mom is doing an FTP test on the trainer’ 😉

10. What is your favorite: swim, bike or run? It’s different every season.

I truly love all three and love having three sports to choose from on any given day.

11. What has been the greatest lesson that athletics has taught you?

There are too many to count and at different times in my life different lessons have bubbled to the surface. Resilience and self-efficacy may be the most consistent themes, however. Training days and races almost always provide some element of unpredictability. I have endured injuries. Repetitive perseverance and success build confidence – I know this to be true. Also, learning resilience and adaptability through athletics has helped me learn how to reframe daily life stress, situations, and challenges. I’ve learned that the only way to make something less hard is often to – do the thing that is hard!

Ricky Flynn

1. What motivates you to be a triathlete?

I enjoy pushing my body to see how fast I can go.

2. How often do you train and how long have you been training?

This is my 5th year since I started doing triathlons. And my 3rd year as a pro. I train in some way every day. I would say I fluctuate between 20 and 32 hours of training per week.

3. What is the fastest you have run a mile? Have you always been fast? What was your childhood like regarding sports?

My best in the 1500meter is 3:50 (which equates to about a 4:07 mile).  Yes, when I was younger I played all different sports and was always the fastest on the team. I played a sport year round. Between baseball, football, westling, swimming, running, I was a very active kid and loved playing sports.

4. I saw you were the youngest finisher at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials with a time of 2:13:41. Can you tell me a little about that experience?

Yes, I was 12th overall and I think the youngest in the top 50. It was an amazing experience to be able to debut in the marathon at the olympic trials and for it to go so well. That performance really gave me the confidence that I could be succcessful in running.

5. How did you hear about the Asheville Triathlon?

I have known about the race for a couple years. I usually have a good idea of most of the local races in the area, especially triathlons since they are not very common.

6. This was the first time we held the Asheville Triathlon in Hendersonville, COVID style. What did you think about the location and the changes we had to put in place?

I thought the race did a good job with using specific COVID protocols in order to make it a safe and fun experience for everyone.

7. If we have the Asheville Tri again, would you join us again?

Possibly, just depends on what my race schedule looks like during that time.

8. How do you feel about sport events right now?

I love sports, so I am happy that we are seeing them starting back up. I think as long as the appropriate precautions are made then we can have sports.

9. How did COVID affect your training?

The only thing that really affected my training was the lack of access to a pool and gym for a few months. So, I didnt get to swim as much but I made do as best I could by doing some open water swimming and strength training at home.

10. What is your favorite: swim, bike or run?

Sort of by default, the run is my favorite b/c that is what I am best at.

11. What accolades have you achieved that you are most proud of?

I still have a lot of goals to accomplish in triathlon, but as of now I would say being an age group world champion at the 70.3 world championships. Past accolades I am most proud of (thru running) is being the 2009 DIII Cross country national champion, and a 7-time all-american (cross country/track) and I would say being 12th at marathon Olympic Trials would be up there too. I also won a highschool cross country state title in 2003 (Maryland) which is a pretty good memory.

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