Met Coree through twitter and immediately knew I wanted to feature him as a tri-friend. Not only is he from Illinois, but is a strong triathlete and a minority in the sport! According to the USAT 2012 Demographics, African Americans represent only 0.5% of triathletes. I wanted to ask Coree not only about his journey to becoming a triathlete but his take on being a minority in the sport. Thank you Coree for your answers and best of luck this season!
Hello! Thanks for the interview. I am from Ottawa, IL, and went to Greenville College. I played soccer for six years, and raced track/cross country for thirteen. My college years were filled with injuries, so swimming and biking became ways to stay fit. It was a pretty easy decision to switch to triathlon, as I was already doing all three sports.
What was the hardest part about transitioning from a collegiate track athlete to a longer distance triathlete ?
The hardest part about going from a track athlete (mainly middle distance runner) to longer distance triathlete has been the swim. I have known how to swim since I was young, but I was never good or fast. Swimming is such a technique based sport—it requires a lot of time and thinking to get quicker. Running, on the other hand, while there is some technique, your body kind of figures out what works for it.
What has been the easiest part about transitioning from a track athlete to triathlete?
If you would have asked me this question earlier this year, I would have said “the run.” I did a few triathlons while in college and often had the fastest or one of the fastest amateur run splits. I never found it that hard to run decent after swimming and biking. But, the easiest part has actually been getting a coach. I am coached by Steve Johnson (Dark Horse Multisport—www.darkhorsetriathlon.com) and he made it a pretty easy transition from track to triathlon. I started working with him in November of 2012, but still had an outdoor track season to run. He made my swim and bike workouts, but I did all of my running with my track team. Steve took over all of my training in May (2013), and it has been great.
What was your best race last year and why? What is your Planned A race for 2014?
This is a tough question. Performance wise, it was probably USAT AG Nationals in Milwaukee, because I had a huge PR and got a taste of what it is like to race at such a big, competitive event. On the learning side, I would say the Ironman 70.3 World Championship/Rev3 Branson combo. I had a very rough day at Worlds. I was disappointed with myself for not executing the race plan (power &nutrition on the bike). Vegas was also the first time I had ever been passed on a triathlon run—it happened about a ½ mile from the finish. I decided to race Branson (two weeks later) and had a 17 minute improvement from the previous year. I had to learn to bounce back from disappointment and just focus on the task at hand.
As for 2014 “A” race…well, a spring 70.3, USAT AG Nationals, and hopefully 70.3 Worlds. And…there are 3 races in November that I would not miss: Canal Connection 10k, Litchfield Route 66 Half Marathon, and the Oglesby Turkey Trot.
What's it like being a minority in triathlon?
Being a minority in triathlon is interesting. People often ask me if it is intimidating to be one of few black people at a triathlon. My answer is always “no.” The clock doesn’t care what your skin color is—I’m still going to try and beat you to the finish line, haha. I will say that being a minority makes it much easier to be noticed. Win or lose, I try to do it in a way that would make my coach, family, and friends happy.