Be Like Devin Volk

Devin Volk finished as the runner-up in the M25-29 category during the 2022 IRONMAN World Championships in Kona and as he crossed the finish he noticed a fallen competitor, and then made sure to help her across that coveted finish line.

It is very easy to have tunnel vision when you are in the final stages of such a big event and that does not mean you are not a good person if you did not notice what is going on near you, but when you are aware and can help - be like Devin Volk.

We had a chat with the fast Oregon resident about racing, training and much more.

Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time Devin.

Devin Volk: Happy to be here Herbert. Hope you are doing well after your travels.

ST: You now had a few weeks to decompress and we would like to know how are you feeling right now?

Devin: Doing pretty well. I have been taking some time off and doing normal people things on the weekends with my partner, which is a very nice change of pace.

ST: I believe you grew up in Oregon but are now a California man.

Devin: Yep yep. I am a Corvallis, Oregon native and then went to California for University at Cal Poly, SLO. But I am now back in Oregon and living the dream in Bend.

ST: Talk about your athletic background.

Devin: I did a variety of team sports growing up, but settled on soccer, cross country, alpine ski racing, and track as a senior in high school. Swam a little bit until two-a-day practices became a thing in 6th grade and I convinced my parents to let me quit in favor of playing basketball. Started triathlon when I went to Cal Poly after I found out that I was too slow to run for the track and cross-country teams and I saw a video of Kona on YouTube. I knew absolutely nothing about the sport but wanted to push myself and try something new. I saw that Cal Poly had a collegiate team, so I did my first sprint triathlon the week before driving down to school to make sure it was something I would be interested in. It went absolutely terribly, but I was hooked. They tried to pull me out of the swim, and I had to do breaststroke and back stroke to finish. Rode on a road bike that my friend's dad gave me a few days before the race. It was two sizes too big with downtube shifters and toe cages, which was perfect because I raced in my high school track singlet and shorts with sneakers. I did end up setting the run course record and climbed my way up through the field a bit, which definitely gave me some hope that there was potential for me in the sport.

ST: At what point did you take it serious with triathlon?

Devin: I always had goals and worked purposefully towards them, even from the beginning but I didn’t really know what I was doing or how much work was required until 2017. That’s when I really started to look into coaching methods for triathlon and what the top guys in the sport were doing. I still wasn’t doing high volume per say, around 12-14 hours per week, but I it felt like I was really getting after it and pushing the edge of over training. In 2019, I started working with Hurley and found out that what I thought was serious wasn’t actually that serious, and things have progressed each year since. I am now doing twice as much volume as I was in college but feel just as dedicated. To me, being serious is more of a mental approach to your sessions and season as opposed to any specific hour requirement or plan.

ST: How much time do you spend skiing these days?

Devin: Unfortunately, I haven’t logged many days on the slopes the past few years compared to my high school days. That will definitely change this season as I live only 35 minutes from my favorite Oregon mountain, Mt. Bachelor, and will be doing some work for Oregon Adaptive Sports this winter as a guide and ski buddy to people with disabilities.

ST: Let us talk Kona 2022. When did you arrive there?

Devin: My partner and I arrived late Friday night about a week before the race. Both our flights were delayed, so we arrived about seven hours later than anticipated, so we got to our accommodations around midnight Hawaii time. The bike was ok though and that is all that really matters!

ST: Did you feel well prepared and properly rested?

Devin: Definitely. With only one other race all year, which was my first IRONMAN at the St. George IRONMAN World Champs, my coach, Matt Hurley from Wyld Endurance, and I focused the entire season on Kona. We had months of preparation specifically designed around getting me ready to have my best day when it counted. I also had the incredible opportunity to train with Chelsea Sodaro in Kona during her lead up, which prepared me about as good as anyone could have hoped for. Not only for the conditions, but for the distance as well. I hit lifetime power numbers on the bike, got absolutely hammered in the pool, and was pushed to the edge during every hard run. After camp, I had a nice taper into the race, Norwegian style, with a big day, for me, on the Monday before the race. I did a 3-hour ride with intervals from IRONMAN to FTP and a run of the bike with threshold reps.

ST: What is your connection to Chelsea?

Devin: Honestly, prior to a month before Hawaii, none. Chelsea and my coach go back some time to their purple patch fitness days and I obviously knew of her from her results, though I had never spoken with her. One day I got a message in a group chat between my coach, myself, and a number I didn’t know asking if I was interested in doing a pre-Kona camp with the sender claiming to be Chelsea. I actually thought it was another guy on the EMJ team messing with me. It turned out to be a serious offer and the opportunity of a lifetime!

ST: Did you attend any of the pre-race events or gatherings?

Devin: As part of the Every Man Jack team, we all did the underpants run. I also did the Sunday swim as a very easy lap of the course to get accustomed to it. They were both pretty good ways to have some fun and relax.

ST: Talk about your race and how it unfolded.

Devin: Started the day feeling very relaxed and confident in my prep. Once I was in the water, I was surprised by how the first few hundred meters went. I heard that Kona was a bloodbath in the water, even with the wave start, but I don’t think I was really touched by anyone the entire swim. The plan was to swim very easy for me, 58-60 minutes, and I found myself sitting on the back of a 3-4 person train for about the last 2.5km. Getting out, I was feeling fresh and flew through transition. I think I put roughly a minute on all the top guys in the age group, which will be important information later. Starting the bike I was having a blast going through the lines of spectators cheering and saw my partner, parents, and the 30 other EMJ dudes who were racing on Saturday. I rode the first half completely alone and didn’t really see anyone in my AG. Only a couple guys passed me early and they absolutely flew by. When I hit the turn-around I was feeling excellent having nailed my nutrition plan of 1.35L of plain water an hour and 90-120g carbs. I caught a small group and spent the rest of the ride leapfrogging from small group to small group. The plan was to hold back the first two hours and then ride the last 3 aggressively, especially the section from mile 60-100, which notoriously has a headwind and breaks people. I was basically building the entire ride. I finished the bike with Timmo and started the run absolutely over the moon that I was not throwing up like in St. George. I ripped the first 5km even though I was trying to hold back but the crowds got to me and I was feeling great. I was on a mission to put together a solid marathon. I ran up into the top five before 20km and was still feeling good but then Timmo passed me and things got interesting. I caught back up entering the Energy Lab and put around 40” into him by the turn around. He powered back to me climbing out, which was insanely impressive, and put 10” on me. I was ready to throw in the towel but thinking about how much my partner sacrificed to put up with my ridiculous training schedule got me through. It would have been so disrespectful to her if I gave anything less than my best. Timmo and I went shoulder to shoulder for about 7km coming back to Palani. I attacked him three times and he answered every time without any visible effort. Then, shortly after going through an aid station that had nothing ready for us because the volunteers were overwhelmed by the amount of athletes running the other direction who needed support he finally cracked. I made it to the top of Palani and had to stop because my hamstring was fully cramped. I stretched it out and got another cup of ice from the man, the myth, the legend, Jan Frodeno and made it to the finish a mere 45 seconds ahead of TImmo.

ST: As you crossed the finish, other than the race clock time and Mike Reilly, what caught your eye?

Devin: I actually didn’t see my finish time and didn’t even hear Mike Reilly say the words. All I was thinking about was the athlete on the ground and if I was going to be able to help her without cramping again. She was clearly showing signs of a potentially serious medical emergency and needed someone to check on her. I asked her if she needed help and when she didn’t answer or show any signs of having heard me, I grabbed her and somehow managed to get her across the line where medical was waiting. I still don’t know where that strength came from.

As an aside, a teammate in college collapsed before the finish at Collegiate Nationals in Alabama. She stood up and fell backwards, stood up and fell backwards. Then she did not move. We were screaming at medical support to go get her, but they did nothing. So another teammate and I, who were both EMT’s at the time, jumped the fence and carried her straight into the med tent where she had a core temperature of 108F. That is potential brain damage territory and it took her months to recover. You know what other spectators yelled at us while we ran to her, “don’t touch her or she will be disqualified.” Personally, I think that athlete safety is more important than finishing any event.

ST: Did you see her after and was she feeling better?

Devin: She and her coach reached out to me the next day and let me know that she was thankfully alright and planned on going to the awards to stand on the podium for her age group.

ST: What equipment did you use in the race (swim, bike and run and ideally more details are better)?

Devin: As a member of team Every Man Jack, I used a Roka Viper Pro sleeved swim skin with Roka R1 cobalt mirrored goggles. Felt IA rim break with Enve 7.8’s, running Ultegra Di2, 55/39, and Silica Super Secret chain waxed on a SRAM PC-1170 (Rival), with 110mm rise aluminum extensions. I was in a Wyn Republic Velocity+ 2.0 and wore the Louis Garneau P-09 helmet with Roka SR-1X sunglasses. For the run, I used the original Nike Alpha Fly with brand new Nike racing ankle socks because they are faster to put on than the Wyn republic socks I use everyday. The team sponsor for nutrition is GU and I only used gels and water the whole race. 75mg of caffeine total for the day and it was in one gel on the bike around the 3-hour mark.

ST: What tire width, and did you go with tubes or tubeless?

Devin: I rode the 25mm Vittoria Corsa Speed TLR 2.0’s set up tubeless with 60ml of orange seal. I ran them around 82-85psi as suggested by the Silca tire rolling resistant calculator for my system weight and road conditions.

ST: Talk about your day job.

Devin: In addition to coaching, I currently work for Columbia Sportswear here in Bend, OR part time. However, I am looking into doing a coding course the start of next year with the hopes of getting a job being a front end developer for a fitness related company like Garmin and continue to grow as a coach. We’ll see what happens!

ST: And what is next?

Devin: Not sure exactly. Season is done for me and I am looking forward to hitting the slopes and taking a step back from training a bit. Focusing on building out my coaching business, send me an email at if you are interested in having a discussion about coaching. As far as next season, the plan is to hit the pool pretty hard during the winter and see if I can make a big improvement in the water. That will determine which direction I go next year. I might try and step into the pro field over the 70.3 distance or maybe focus on going to Finland and having a good result there as an amateur.

ST: Is there anything else we should know?

Devin: I guess one piece of advice I’d have for someone starting to take triathlon, or any sport more seriously is to relax. Don’t let the stress of expectation derail your focus when things don’t go as planned. You are going to have sessions that don’t go as planned, you may get sick and miss days or weeks, or have a race that goes completely sideways. Trust that you are making forward progress and let the results come to you. You can’t force it.