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Bruce MacFarlane {February 2008}

A DC Tri Club veteran of 5 years, February’s triathlete of the month is ironman and avid motorcyclist Bruce MacFarlane. After several “sedentary” years mostly spent in front of a computer, Bruce decided to take the plunge into triathlon. After graduating from the DC Tri’s first NTP class, Bruce went on to finish IMFL in 2006 leaving his motorized cycling days behind! He credits DC Tri and his wife, Natasha with helping him reach many athletic goals he once deemed impossible. Although his bike split is a little slower now without the motor, he’s showing no signs of stopping.

When was it you decided you wanted to do a full Ironman race?
The idea first crossed my mind at the 2004 Kona viewing party while watching the final hour finishers. They were mortals I could actually identify with. It was obvious from their expressions that this was a profound experience for them. But I always dismissed the idea of doing it myself as crazy. "No way I could do that." A year later, I entered the Odyssey Half IM. I figured if I could finish that race, I could get ready for IM Florida 13 months later. I was right. IM Florida was ugly, but I finished. What it came down to was that once I believed I could do it, the desire was there.

Tell us a bit about the Moscow Marathon and why it is one of your most memorable races.
There are three reasons. 1) It was my second marathon, but my first was a debacle. (I ended up going about 29 miles; ask me the details at happy hour). 2) It was a historical course. Imagine running along the Moscow River past the Kremlin and Red Square. 3) I had a large support group from my wife's side of the family cheering me on including my father in law, Arkadiy Belov. He was a major inspiration in getting me off the couch. He's retired military and when he was visiting a few years ago, he would get up every morning to work out. And in the afternoon he was out in the yard splitting logs! He was more then 25 years older than me but he could outperform me at anything physical. I decided if I wanted any shot at a healthy future, I would have to have a more active lifestyle.

Every race you have a huge smile on your face - especially crossing the finish line. What is going through your mind that stretches that grin from ear to ear?
Races are the reward for all those hours of training. Of course, people see me smiling because I've just seen them along the course. That's one of the neat things about DC Tri. Go to a major race anywhere and you're bound to see friendly faces out on the course. At the finish you add a feeling of accomplishment to the mix. You're doing something that not long ago you had considered out of your reach. Also, at the finish there are more friendly faces. When I see a group of DC Tri clubbers at the finish line, it's special. I know that they finished a LONG time earlier. But, they hung out to cheer home the last of us!

What does your wife Natasha think of all this "triathlon stuff"?

She's very supportive. She actually joined a gym two years before I started and she prodded me to do something. So be careful what you wish for! Actually she enjoys going to races, especially Ironman. She really enjoyed IMFL, especially the atmosphere at the finish. At some races, I'm lucky if the timing mat is still in place when I get there. But at Ironman, the last hour is electric. We both got a kick from that!

Your user name on the DC Tri website is "back_marker". What does that mean and where did it come from?
That's comes from my motorcycle racing background. In motor racing, a back marker is one of the slow people at the back of the pack. When the leaders lap them, they mark the back of the field, a ”back marker”. When I picked a user name, I had yet to do a race. But the one thing I was sure of is that I would be slow. I decided to have fun with it. And, yes, I have been lapped in a triathlon!

Motor sports? We're giving you the keys (hypothetically speaking, of course) to any vehicle with an engine ... which do you choose?
That would have to be a Formula One car. Even top racers from other series are blown away by the performance when they get a test drive in one. (Are you sure it's just hypothetically? Darn!)

What is your favorite aspect of the DC Triathlon Club?
The camaraderie. It's a great group of people. So the social events are fun, and, like I said before, it's really neat to see all the red, white and blue out on the course. I remember at the club championship in Pittsburgh. I had been on my own in the park for quite a while. But as I approached the finish line, there was a hillside full of DC Tri Clubbers cheering me in. Very inspiring.

How much longer do you see yourself competing in triathlons?
As long as I'm physically able. A running friend of mine, Don, is 77 and does 5 - 10 marathons a year. Then there's Frank Farrar who I saw at IMFL last year. You've seen him on the Ironman telecasts. He is 77 and does several Ironman races a year. Besides, out aging my competition is the only chance I have of qualifying for Kona! If I'm fortunate enough to have a long life, I want to have a quality of life. And, that means staying active. I hope that skiing and triathlon are part of my retirement.

Thanks Bruce!