Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Young Gun Blazin: Interview with Mitch Child

Mitch Child is a 21-year old triathlon phenom and engineering student at the University of Utah. In true pandemic fashion we caught up via Zoom, discussing potential plans of going pro, favorite local races, top rivals on the local scene, and other shenanigans.

Thanks for the time, Mitch!

Standard question: what’s your athletic background and how did you first get into triathlon? What was your first race?

I got into triathlon thanks to my dad. He was training for an Ironman and would take me to the pool with him, and I liked swimming a lot. My first races were little local ones for kids. I swam through high school (Olympus, coached by local triathlete Tom Thorum), but wasn’t ever crazy good. I went to State every year but did average to below average.

After high school I didn’t really have anything to do so I jumped into triathlon full force. My dad had all the gear, and I was his size at that point so I could borrow some bikes, which was great.

My first legit tri was St. George 70.3 in 2017. That was the first one I actually trained for and cared about. I think I was the youngest person in the race, having turned 18 only a couple months before. It was a tough first one!

Rumor has it you’re considering becoming a professional triathlete. What’s the process to qualify as a pro, and what’s your game plan to make it happen?

There are a number of ways you can get a pro license according to USAT – one is to earn a certain # of points over a season, but I don’t think many people do it that way because it’s confusing. I think the most common way is to finish within 8% of the winner at a race that has a $20K+ prize purse.

I think theoretically I accomplished that at the Bear Lake Brawl Half, but whether I did or didn’t doesn’t matter because I’m not ready to take it. St. George is a perfect course for me, but even if I qualify there in May I might race amateur for the rest of this year. Maybe 2022? We’ll just have to see how I develop.

Photo credit: Higby Photography

Are you still in school and if so remind us what you’re majoring in – also, what's your plan to combine school/engineering career with triathlon going forward?

I don’t think I’d ever want to go pro triathlon, like full time only triathlon. I’m currently starting my Masters program in Materials Science Engineering at the U. I’m also working at Specialized and will probably move into a Field Quality Engineering position soon. Honestly, working with Specialized is like being all in in a lot of ways with triathlon. I can’t get much more in the scene than that!

You were the first age grouper (4:16) in a stacked field at the Bear Lake Brawl Half. How did you feel about that race, and were you able to do any other racing in 2020?

That was my only race, and thankfully it went well. I think there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit where I can improve, which was obvious from that race. The run is pretty brutal for me after a big swim/bike. But I think my strength showed through that I’m actually a better biker now than I am swimmer even, I think.

The bike course was super flat but it was so cold and windy. At the end of the race I had to shift with my palms because I couldn’t bend my fingers. It was also a crazy swim but overall I had a lot of fun at that race.

Photo credit: Higby Photography

What are your race plans and/or goals for 2021?

I’d love to be the first amateur at St. George 70.3. I’m gonna do recon on the course a ton of times… I’ll probably ride that course 40 times or more.

What time do you think it will take to be the first amateur?

Well I’m lookin at a 23-25 minute swim, a 2:05-2:15 bike and I’d love to run under 1:25, which is right around 4 hrs. I think 4:00-4:10 would be ideal to win it. I won Bear Lake with a 4:16, but that’s a perfectly flat course.

Any other races in mind?

St. George 70.3 Worlds [same course in September] and some local stuff, we’ll see what happens with other races.

Who’s coaching you?

Wes Johnson handles the day-to-day and Andrew Stasinos for strength/durability, functional strength training. I swim with Wes a lot which is tough!

Who are your top “friendly rivals” on the local scene? Any trash talk you would say to them to build a little hype for the upcoming season?

Well the biggest one was Nick Dorsett, but he’s pretty busy with work now, so I’m not seeing as much of him. He’s really good. Definitely Klodian Mitri is a big contender for the local scene here and Jake Peterson – those 3 guys are pretty baller.

You’ve had some great battles with Jake, from what we’ve seen, looking back over the past few years in our results database. He’s beat you in some close races, but do you think you’ve surpassed him now?

Short stuff for sure. He’s done a full though (crushing Ironman Florida 2020) and I haven’t done that so the battles will continue for years to come I think. Plus he has 3 daughters so it’s probably pretty tough.

Any words for Klodian? Does he think he can just come in as a newcomer and win everything local?

He’s gotta learn to pump up his tires first… get some tire pressure knowledge. But no, he’s a phenomenal runner. I’ll be looking over my shoulder for sure. He’s pretty tough.

Anyone else come to mind?

Well those 3 are the ones I’m most worried about at least!

You held your age group Championship Belt for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, then Nick Dorsett stole it away from you in 2019 (as a side note Nick was #1 overall, Mitch 2, Jake Peterson 3. On the women's side overall: Jenna Goodrum 1, Liis Rametta 2, Annabeth Dean 3) Will you be racing enough locally to win it back?

I certainly hope so. The belt is at BAM right now, it’s up on display I guess you could call it. I’m not sure if Nick will be racing enough. Klodian’s probably around for a while, but I would certainly like to regain the title.

You’ve been a great ambassador for the local race scene – what are your favorite Utah races and why?

#1 East Canyon - I love that race because the bike is so incredibly fast.

#2 I love Brineman, it's way fun. The water is clean, that swim course is nice and it’s easy to see.

#3 I definitely like Jordanelle, I like the cool water. I feel like I can tough out the tougher conditions.

#4 Echo is one of my favorite races despite crashing there a few years ago.

#5 Daybreak – I certainly hope the State Champs is a go! I’d love to race that for sure.

All the races are great - all races have their merits and drawbacks but that’s what makes it interesting.

What’s your involvement with Intermountain & BAM these days?

I try to be as involved as I possibly can. I’ve been with BAM like half a decade now - I love it, support it more than anything else. And the Intermountain Tri team is kind of an evolution of BAM. BAM’s more the coaching and people who are really serious, and Intermountain’s more let’s get really active and have fun and give people healthy lifestyles, and I love both ends of the spectrum. I used to coach more and did a lot with kids. Right now I’m spread pretty thin with college and work so I’m not doing as much coaching as I’d like.

Intermountain is super supportive of all my goals. I know they’re the title sponsor of the Ironman branded races in St. George, which is great. I used to be an Intermountain Tri mentor and now I guess I’m in the performance group with Skye Moench which is super awesome. Skye is amazing.

As good as you’ve been, you were still a Utah Tri Buzz "Most Improved Triathlete" award winner in 2019 – to what do you attribute your continued progress over the years? What advice would you offer to beginners in the sport?

Coaching is the #1 thing. That’s true in many ways, from pure aerobic base to knowledge about the sport in general. I came in not knowing how to run at all essentially. So coaching is definitely #1, you wanna get on that. And then consistency and hard work, trying to stay on top of it every day. The consistency part, that’s honestly what I love most, the routine, and learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable as they say.

If I could give any advice it would just be learn as much as you can from everywhere, you never know who you can learn from. Even through coaching kids it was amazing how much I learned. You can learn from anybody and everybody.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I definitely want to stress one point. One of my bigger goals is to guide someone in the Paralympics. I think the Paralympics are overall an overlooked thing. I think there’s more attention to it in the triathlon scene, which is great and I love, and I want to see that more.

I think it’s pretty easy to get caught up in triathlon with a me, me, me focus. So if I could offer any advice I would say don’t make it about you. You can do both, you can chase your own goals while being there for others.

Thanks for having me on, this has been fun!

*****Still preliminary, but below is what we know so far! More races may be added, and we'll update as we learn more. Check out this post if you need a refresher on how it all works. Thank you Trent Perry for being the title sponsor of the UTCS!*****




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