Ricky Flynn won his age group at the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships and his 1:11:19 run was only bested by Javier Gomez. His 4:10:45 total time placed him in 25th place overall right behind German pro Patrick Dierksmeier. The fastest age grouper in Chattanooga however was German Patrick Reger (M18-24) who swam 29:34, biked 2:15:24 and ran 1:17:35 for a total finish time of 4:07:21.
The Greenville, SC based Flynn is a very talented runner who competed for Lynchburg College and has a standalone 63:44 personal best half marathon to his name. That was in 2013 at the US Half Marathon championships in Duluth, Minnesota. A couple years ago he started to dabble in triathlon and this 30 year old is now all in.
Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time Ricky.
Ricky Flynn: My pleasure, thank you!
ST: You were the second fastest age grouper at the IRONMAN 70.3 Worlds and beat quite a few men with professional licenses. Has that sunk in yet?
Ricky: Yes, I think the past couple days it has begun to sink in.
ST: With the wave start did you have any idea where you might be overall?
Ricky: I really had no idea where I was overall or in my age group during the swim and bike. Once I got to the run, I heard I was a certain amount back from the leader in my age group but didnít really know where I stood overall. I knew regardless of where I was I was going to need a good run split to put myself in contention overall.
ST: Your run split of 1:11:19 was amazing considering the toughness of the course. Was that the fastest you have run in a Half IM to date?
Ricky: Yes, I have done two 70.3 races before this one and this was my fastest run split. I have gotten faster at each one, and the previous two had extremely hot weather during the run so that was tough. However, those run courses were much easier in terms of hills.
ST: Only Javier Gomez ran faster and that is some amazing company.
Ricky: Yeah, after the race, I was told I had the 2nd fastest run split. To be 2nd to Javier Gomez is quite the company for sure and he is an amazing athlete so I was happy with that. Going into the race, I really wanted to go sub 70 until I found out how hard the course was, so I was happy to be able to go around 71 minutes.
ST: Did you meet any of the pro athletes after the race or at the awards?
Ricky: No, I didnít meet any of the pros, unfortunately.
ST: You had finished well at 70.3 Atlantic City but the competition in Chattanooga was at a much higher level. What did you think might be possible going in?
Ricky: 70.3 AC went well last year, although I struggled a little bit during the run from miles 8-11 from cramping with the very hot weather. Going into Chattanooga, I knew I would need to improve from that. But I had high goals going into this race because I always have high expectations for myself. Just looking at past years times, I knew if I could have a good day it would be possible for me to be somewhere near the top of my age group as well as overall. I also had my new bike for this 70.3 so that was a big help.
ST: Your background is running and you have a 63:44 PR time for a Half Marathon. That was four years ago. Considering that you swim and bike too, what time would you think you could run on a relatively fast Half Marathon course now?
Ricky: Most of my running PRs are from 2011 to 2013. I know I am not anywhere near 63 minute shape right now, but I figure on a good day with good weather and a fast course I could run somewhere around 65 to 66 minutes.
ST: How did you stumble upon triathlon and when was that?
Ricky: The 2nd half of 2012 I struggled with some running injuries so I decided to try doing a triathlon because I couldnít run much. So I jumped in an Olympic distance race to see how I would do. After that I started getting healthy again for running so I went back to training for that and then officially started triathlon again the summer of 2016. I had qualified for my 2nd Olympic trials in the marathon at the 2016 trials in LA, but I was less than 2 weeks out from race day and came down with an injury and wasnít able to run. In addition to numerous other injuries in my running career, this last injury pushed me over the edge and I decided that once my injury healed I would make a serious push into the triathlon game. So this 2017 season was my 2nd full season for triathlon.
ST: In Chattanooga you swam 28:11 and biked 2:24:32, so where do you think you can still improve?
Ricky: I think I have a lot of room to improve in every aspect of the race. My swim could improve; I started probably in the 8th wave of my age group and was swimming around and thru people the entire time. My bike has been getting better and better each race so I hope I can continue to improve in that area. I have really only been cycling seriously for a year or two. I also am still adjusting to my new shiv and getting used to riding on a tri bike. I also have very little skill on the bike so the technical descents on the bike course really hurt me. I also have a lot of time to shave on my transitions, which I just need to work on more and that will come but itís hard to find time to work a full time job, train for the 3 segments and work on transitions. And honestly, I know I can go faster in the run. I played the run slightly safe due to fear of cramping, which never happened. I think if I take a little more risk during the middle of the run then I could shave some time.
ST: I think you recently got a new Specialized Shiv. How did you decide on that bike versus anything else along those lines?
Ricky: I have had my new Shiv since beginning of August. I worked with my local bike shop here in Greenville, SC called Carolina Triathlon. Just based on my price point and their knowledge and recommendations we felt the Shiv was the best bike for me. I have always heard good things about Specialized and the S-Works model has a really cool color scheme so that helped.
ST: And that is also what Javier Gomez and Tim Don ride.
Ricky: Well thatís encouraging. I must have made a good choice if these guys ride specialized too.
ST: What about your position on the bike. Will you work with someone to get more aero?
Ricky: Right now I want to continue getting used to the position my bike is in and make adjustments as I progress forward, at least that would be the plan.
ST: Do you use a power meter?
Ricky: I do not, I have been told I need to get one, so I will probably start looking into that.
ST: With whom would you consult to figure out which power meter to get?
Ricky: I have had some recommendations from some knowledgeable people so I will look into it some and see what fits me best.
ST: I think you run in Adidas running shoes. What is your preferred model?
Ricky: I ran the race in the Adidas Adios which is a great racing flat. I donít really have a preferred model or brand. I train in numerous types of brands but I really enjoy running in my HOKAs the most for easy runs and workouts.
ST: A few years ago while working in a running store you were charged with embezzlement. Is that still hanging over your head?
Ricky: This is something that happened in the past and it will always be hanging over my head. But without getting into the whole situation much, I would just like to say donít believe everything you read. I feel like what happen to me was completely undeserved. Letís just say there are always two sides to every story and what you may read online is not always true nor is it the whole truth. I regret what I did to put myself in that situation and am sorry for that. I have moved on from this and put it behind me and itís something that will always be associated with my name but I hope people donít judge me based on this and rather who I am as a person and not for a mistake I made in the past.
ST: What is next for you?
Ricky: I guess the next step would be to apply for my pro card. I really wanted to try to do another 70.3 as a pro before the end of the year but I am not sure if that will happen. I may even try to jump in a marathon and see what I can do off of triathlon fitness.
ST: Your time was well down compared to the top pros, plus you and all other age groupers have other age group bikes to slingshot forward. Do you think you would have gone as fast as you did had you started as a pro?
Ricky: Yeah I think I would have been more likely to have a faster time if I started as a pro. Not saying I would have gone a ton faster but little things like starting earlier and it not being as hot during the run would help as well as having a much more convenient transition set up in addition to other things.
ST: Is there anything else we should know?
Ricky: I canít really think of anything else. I appreciate you doing this interview and am grateful for the opportunity.
Edit: Initially Ricky Flynn was wrongly identified in this interview as the top age grouper. That was not correct. He did win his age group, but he was second fastest age grouper overall.