ATHLETE PROFILE – BRENT CHAN: SEARCHING FOR HIS NEXT NEVER
Brent Chan is like any other 46 year old man. He is a proud father. Like any proud father, he takes pride in the example he sets for his daughter. Part of this is the example he sets for her in triathlon. Impressively, she follows suit, having taken up tri at a young age.
Years ago, Brent had been playing rec hockey and paintball when he signed up for the TC10k as part of a work group. He figured that he was fit from his other sporting endeavors but thought he “should maybe go for a run or two” prior to the race. Brent soon learned he was not as fit as he had suspected. He began a 1 minute run and 10 minute walk training program. He trained in secret so he wouldn’t have to admit to his coworkers that he wasn’t fit. However, after the race, he became an avid runner, completing all distances in races, from small 5ks to marathons.
During his running career, Brent noticed something incredible. He was spending time with people who do incredible things on a regular basis. His brother suggested Brent volunteer at an adventure race. He spent a week at remote wilderness checkpoints watching teams of people race 500km. This experience taught him he should learn to never to say never.
The adventure racing community began to ask Brent to participate. Eventually, he completed more than ten “sprint” 6-hour races and “a handful” of 36-hour races. Talk about endurance!
Brent came upon triathlon because of a need to do more. After completing the New York City Marathon in 2010, not only was he looking for that next challenge, he was experiencing some hip degeneration. A doctor suggested that he couldn’t replace Brent’s hip with one as strong as his original, so he needed to cut back on his running mileage. Naturally, Brent wanted to comply while not losing any fitness.
Brent’s biggest challenge in his early triathlon career was that he had to learn to swim as an adult. He joined a TriStars beginner program lead by the Gebbies at the downtown Victoria YMCA. He recalls the first lessons as an exercise in humility. To him, 25 metres seemed to take up an excessive amount of space. With hard work, of course, Brent became a much stronger swimmer.
Brent has enjoyed a varied athletic career. However, he has made a bit of a splash in the triathlon world. Brent has competed for Canada at World Championships twice – once in New Zealand – another “never.” He also completed Ironman Canada in 2014. Brent struggled during the 2016 season, but came “back to life” as he put it for 2017. For 2018, he plans another Ironman – likely a destination Ironman. He has come to enjoy grouping his races with his travels.
Brent finds the biggest challenge to him currently to be his hyper-analytical brain. He can dissect any particular part of the sport and think of countless ways to accomplish something new. Brent soaks up whatever information he can about triathlon through podcasts, books, training guides, and social media. Brent has studied as many aspects of the sport as one can name – water bottle position, to ice or not to ice, bike shoes during transition, shoe choice, hat choice, and nutrition. Frequently, he finds himself having “analysis paralysis.” He has to work hard not to overthink his sport.
For Brent, as his career progresses, he becomes less interested in chasing time goals and more interested in what else he can get out of the sport. While he remains competitive, he likes to find new challenges and sometimes do things that are out of the ordinary. Brent enjoys sharing the triathlon experience with people at different places in their triathlon careers. He has enjoyed some time coaching, though he much prefers informal coaching or clinics.
Brent considers himself fortunate to have wonderful training partners from TriStars who make long rides fun and exciting. Brent finds TriStars to be an “endless supply of new people and energy each year. He lists people by name – Lauren, Jim, Shelby, Merv, Erin – who are early in their triathlon careers yet chase “big goals with optimism and focus.” He says it puts the youth back in his career.
If Brent had a piece of advice for other triathletes, he would say, “Remember that athletic performance is important, or we’d all be doing things that didn’t have a clock attached to them, but who you do them with is just as important.” He would remind them that one’s support group and training friends can be the difference between getting out of the door and staying in any given day.
Thanks for sharing, Brent. We are lucky to have you a part of the TriStar family. Best of luck in finding your “next never.”