2024 Member Spotlight – Theo Varns

April, 2024

How did you get started in triathlons?
I’d already been swimming and running since I was young and had been wanting to do a triathlon for a several years. I finally jumped at the chance to join NTP when the program opened back up in 2022 after covid, and I completed my first triathlon in July of that year.

Tell us about your first triathlon experience. Any memorable moments?
I completed the Olympic Diamond in the Rough, which was a challenging and hilly course. I was a bit overconfident starting the swim, and the water was so warm (85°F) that I had trouble catching my breath for several minutes. After taking a few short breaks floating on my back, I was able to steady my breathing, relax, and finish the swim.

What motivates you to keep participating in triathlons?
It’s definitely the social stuff—group rides, club races, and all the wonderful friends I’ve made—that keep me coming back.

Favorite club event or activity?
The spring bricknic: it’s a joy to ride through rural Maryland when the weather is beautiful and the leaves and flowers are peeping out.

Favorite memory from the club?
NTP training camp at Elk Neck State Park — and (most of us) not getting sick even though we drank from the wrong water tap.

Favorite training routine or workout?
I do most of my runs in Rock Creek Park, hoping that the hills will help make up for my unorganized training schedule.

Favorite triathlon distance and why?
Olympic distance: it’s long enough that you will always have room to get better and challenge yourself, but still short enough that training for one doesn’t need to take up too much of your free time.

Share a funny or unexpected moment from your triathlon journey.
I raced Waterman’s Olympic in 2022 with several of my NTP friends. However, the weird effects of a tropical storm the night before resulted in a harbor full of jellyfish (bay nettles, which actually prefer warm water!) in cold 68°F water! To top it off, Mason and I didn’t have wetsuits, so we just had to tough our way through the stings and cold water. Definitely type II, bordering on type III fun.

One piece of advice for someone new to triathlons?
Accept that your goals and approach to doing triathlons are going to be very different from other athletes. Definitely learn from others, but always do it for the reasons that drive you. Don’t get stressed too much about comparing your gear, times, workout schedules, etc. to other athletes.

Any upcoming triathlons or fitness goals you’re excited about?
I’m signed up for Musselman this July—my first 70.3! I’ve never been to upstate New York and am excited for summer weather that should be cooler than DC.