Missoula, Montana triathlete Brendan Halpin turned a few heads at the 2009 Avia Wildflower Triathlon as the fastest overall age grouper with a stunning run, and we can certainly expect to see more of him next season. Slowtwitch had a few words with him.
Slowtwitch: Brendan, what are you currently getting ready for?
Brendan: Currently I’m getting ready for Rolling Thunder Cyclocross race. It is a night cyclocross race here in Missoula, MT. But mostly I’m enjoying the off-season and climbing so mountains and hitting the mountain bike trails before the snow falls.
ST: Do you ski and or enjoy other winter activities? Word has it that it already snowed in Montana.
Brendan: I do like to ski, if you are going to live in Montana you really need to be able to embrace the seasons. Winter activities are great because they are totally different from normal triathlon training. Nordic skiing and snow-shoeing are awesome workouts, but I really love hitting the resorts on a good powder day.
ST: At the 2009 Avia Wildflower Triathlon you were the top amateur and had the 4th fastest run overall. That must have felt pretty good.
Brendan: I had a great race at Wildflower! I worked really hard over the off-season and was targeting Wildflower as an A race. On the run it felt effortless and I ran my way up into the pro field after starting ten minutes behind them.
ST: Would you consider that result your best to date?
Brendan: It was definitely my best result to date. I would have finished 16th overall in a very talented professional field.
ST: Your name also has popped up in a few XTERRA results. How do you like XTERRA racing versus road triathlons?
Brendan: XTERRA racing is great! The XTERRA vibe is very different than on road triathlon. The races are smaller in numbers and everyone seems to be much more relaxed. The guys in XTERRA can really ride mountain bikes! I really need to work on my mountain bike skills if I want to race XTERRA more seriously.
ST: Regarding improving your mountain biking, how are you going about that?
Brendan: I plan to ride mountain bikes more this winter in Tucson. Hopefully I will be able to pick up some skills from Cycling House co-workers Andy Schultz and Sam Schultz who are both professional mountain bikers.
ST: What do you have on schedule for next season in terms of racing?
Brendan: I plan to hit up the 70.3 race series and possibly race an Ironman or two. I will start out the season in Arizona with the Desert Classic Duathlon followed by California 70.3. Wildflower will once again be a race that I target. It has been a great race for Montana's and the venue at Wildflower is hard to beat.
ST: As a Missoula, Montana based athlete do you train at all with Linsey Corbin?
Brendan: I train with Linsey Corbin often. She has been a great influence for all Missoula triathletes who want to take their racing to the next level. This summer Linsey and I did a seven-hour ride that had no traffic lights and only one stop sign. Only in Montana!
ST: Besides mellow traffic, there must be something in the water or the air in Montana for all these fast athletes to come out of there.
Brendan: Montana makes you tough! It obviously is not the ideal place to train all year, but we have many talented athletes that live here because it is awesome! The community of athletes is small but we all feed off each other and it really helps. The University of Montana also has a great triathlon team and has won the USA triathlon national championship three times.
ST: Your strength seems to be running. Would you agree with that, and if so, what is your weak link in triathlon?
Brendan: Running off the bike is definitely my strong leg of a triathlon. I can usually be in the mix with some of the fastest run splits. My weak link in triathlon is definitely the swim. I have no background in swimming so it has been a long slow process to improve. This winter I really plan to make a huge effort to improve my swimming.
ST: What will you do different in terms of swim training this coming winter?
Brendan: This winter I plan to start swim training earlier and also swimming with a local swim team. I also plan to lift some heavies and doing some core work.
ST: What is actually your athletic background and who or what inspired you to race triathlons?
Brendan: My athletic background was high school cross-country and track. I was kind of a slacker so I’m not sure how I got fast at running. Matt Seeley and Team Stampede have been a huge inspiration for me to race. The first triathlon that I did I saw a bunch of fast Team Stampede folks and I knew that I wanted to be a part of that. I really needed help because in my first ever triathlon I got hypothermia. I was by far one of the smallest people racing and also one of the only people without a wetsuit.
ST: Since you are racing as an amateur, what do you do as a day job?
Brendan: Actually after Wildflower I started to race as a professional. But what really pays the bills is working at Missoula Bicycle Works. I also work at The Cycling House in Tucson, Arizona in the winter months. The Cycling House is a bed and breakfast for triathletes and cyclists. (www.thecyclinghouse.com)
ST: Do you see the time ahead of you when all you do is race as a professional ( no longer have a support job)?
Brendan: I would love to race full time as a professional but having a job also gives me a good balance. I really see myself working at least part time and I'm also starting to do some coaching on the side.
ST: What does your training currently look like?
Brendan: Monday-rest day,
Tuesday- am swim (BKSL Big Kids Swim Lounge, includes Linsey Corbin and other local pros), track workout in the evening
Wednesday- am swim
Longer ride 3 hours
Thursday- am swim
Mangy crew mountain bike ride 2 hours
Friday- am swim
1-1.5 hour run
Saturday- 5+hour ride
Sunday- 3 hour ride mountain bike
2 hour run
ST: Do you have any sponsors you would like to acknowledge?
Brendan: Hammer Nutriton, Ark Intervals, The Cycling House, Xterra Wetsuits, Cannondale, RoadRunner Sports, American Classic, Trigger Point Technolgy, Le Petit Outre, and Oakley
ST: Do you follow any other sports?
Brendan: I follow quite a few sports but really the only mainstream sport is basketball. I also love cyclocross! My favorite place to get news is www.montanacyclocross.com
ST: Can you share with us some of your food likes and dislikes?
Brendan: I really like to eat just about anything. I have earned the title of vacuum cleaner at The Cycling House for my eating capabilities. If I’m heading out on the town I really enjoy a hamburger and Cold Smoke beer. I’m not really a fan of anything pickled or condiments. Most other solid foods I can handle.
ST: What music do you like?
Brendan: I like a wide variety of music but currently it is Jay Z.
ST: What was the last book you read?
Brendan: Three Cups of tea
ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Brendan: Racing triathlon and living the dream in Montana. What else do I need?
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?