Friday, January 4, 2019

Mr. January: Interview with Ruben "El Guapo" Garcia

Ruben Garcia received Utah Tri Buzz awards for being both an M.I.T. (Most Improved Triathlete) as well as a Top Local Racer this past season. Among other things, we caught up with him to talk about local races, the "Men of Triathlon" calendar, and his plans for next season.

Thanks for the time, Ruben!

Standard question - what’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

I grew up golfing, swimming and I have tried almost everything, but I got to say that my favorite sport has to be cycling.

You’re widely regarded as one of the most handsome triathletes on the local scene. If a "Men of Triathlon” calendar was made, who would be the other 11 Utah triathletes featured in addition to yourself, and which months would everyone be?

Wait I thought I was getting my own calendar!..... JK but yeah I should be on all 12 months.  

(EDITOR'S NOTE: come on, Ruben! Fine, you can be Mr. January AND July, but we need 10 more! Guess we'll have to reach out to the community to get some nominations...)

Simply put, what do you love most about racing?

It makes me happy and teaches my kids valuable lessons like not quitting when things get hard.

Most people aren’t like you, a half man / half triathlete wildebeest who feels no fear, and they won't race 10+ times in a year. That said, what would you say to encourage people to race a little more often, especially on the local scene?

Just go out there and give it a try, we are so lucky to live in Utah where we have so many races to choose from. Challenge yourself and have fun, join a club. Triathletes are a very friendly group and there will always be someone to guide you in the right direction.

On the local scene, our database shows you raced Salem, Sand Hollow (oly) Daybreak (oly), East Canyon (oly), The Utah Half, Echo (oly), Black Ridge (spr) Jordanelle (oly), and the 2018 State Champs race (Brineman oly). Digging deep into your memory, what are some things you remember about each of those races?

You know there is no perfect race but I'm just happy to have so many different options to race in this state.

Salem: I love the venue, nice little town, beautiful pond, nice for spectators, friendly bike and run course (Editor's note: Salem will host the 2019 State Champs race on Sep 7th. It's open to anyone and everyone to come join the fun).

Sand Hollow is a beautiful place, great swim and run, but the bike came up a little short on the distance.

Daybreak, kind of close to where I live so more time to sleep in, love the run course, but I don't love the water from that lake.

East Canyon has a great swim and the easiest bike course in the circuit, but the run changed a little bit for last year and I wasn't a big fan, just not a pretty run.

The Utah Half, awesome hard race with tough conditions, was hot and windy. Only thing they have to fix for this year is to make the run safer, that portion on the highway was not very safe.

Echo..... mmmh I'll just do San Rafael this year.

Jordanelle is one of the best races in the country for a reason, just beautiful all around.

This was my first time doing Brineman and it was fun swimming in that ski lake, biking into the island is great, and the run has some small hills that make it fun and challenging.

And Blackridge, my favorite place to practice open water swimming - I'm going to miss it this year.

After all those races, what’s your podium for Top 3 local favorites overall and why?

Number three Sand Hollow for the views. Number two, East Canyon because it's a super fun fast race with an easy bike coarse. And number one is Jordanelle because it's a beautiful course but very challenging.

Thanks as always for photos Victor Villarreal!

Looking through some of the “results breakdowns” we post, it appears that your swimming and biking are very solid and running is your relative weakness. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but just curious, do you have a game plan for your run going into 2019?

If you suck at running, run more, that's the only way to improve. I had a run analysis done by David Butler and he gave me some exercises to help me with my form, and also will be doing more running events so I can get into running more because bottom line is I do not like running, but its apart of the sport.

Ruben & daughter @ Brineman

Rumor has it you’ve begun converting some of your family to the triathlon lifestyle. What does your family think about your racing overall, and how was your daughter’s experience dipping her toe in the water this year?

I will let my family answer that one. It's fun going to different places but waking up early is hard. Watching everybody suffer is interesting. Also all the views are pretty. Hi I'm Andrea. It was fun to train and race with my dad. It was different to other sports in a good way and I will likely do it again. (Woman of Steel).

Ruben and fam at Salem

At this time what are your plans for next year? Will we see you at the 2019 State Champs race in Sep or are your goals more long-course focused?

I'm officially quitting triathlons and going to start golfing... just kidding. I have 14 events on sight for this year. Three of them will be half distance and the rest Olympics, sprints, century rides, and a couple of running events. I have yet to decide if I should do Salem or Brineman. It would be fun to race with the best of the state, but I like Olympics better than sprints. But I still have a few months to decide.

Anything else you want to share?

Yes, go out and race. We have tons of local races to choose from. Encourage someone to try at least once the experience of triathlons.


Below are links to all the races in the 2019 Championship Series:

Below are links to all Challenger Races:

We started a Patreon account (link below) with the hope of raising a few bucks towards awards & swag for athletes of all abilities in our tri community. We've given out a lot over the past 2 years, but would like to continue to expand our offerings & the volume we can do.

If you enjoy Utah Tri Buzz and would like to pitch in, any amount would be greatly appreciated... (there may be something in it for you as well!)

We're also always grateful for talented people who contribute in terms of time... let us know if you'd like to be part of the Utah Tri Buzz team.

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