Ben Collins has been a friend and athlete ambassador for blueseventy for so long it feels he was here from the beginning. Ben has been racing triathlon and doing it well for nearly a decade. Ben takes his sport head-on, sails, loves dogs and cats, has an engineering background and once showed us how to home-make an airline fee escaping bike travel case in a Seattle parking lot. To run, bike and swim is multitalented but Ben takes it to a new level in sport and life. Chicago is now Ben's home for graduate school and his pro-traithlete life. This year Ben has earned a few top-ten and podium finishes and last week took a win at 5150 Mont Tremblant.
bs: Good morning Ben, thanks for talking with us. Sweet home Chicago- What adjustments did you have to make to get through the last year (winter!) in Chicago?
bc: My first winter in Chicago was pretty mild, but the city is huge and even when the weather is good I spend a lot of time on my trainer to avoid traffic and because with school I have to be efficient with my workout time. This year the winter was not-so-mild, and it very nearly broke me. I got away from the cold a few times, with short training trips to Florida, Cancun, Texas and a long one in St Croix. I really missed Seattle's mild weather when it was negative 20 degrees and the treadmill in my Chicago garage was too cold to start!
bs: Chicago really lured you in for Graduate School, what you studying?
bc: I am working toward an MBA at University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.
bs: What do you wish to pursue with your degree?
bc: I really enjoy product development and marketing, and especially health and fitness technology. I'm working now with a couple of startups in that space, and my triathlon experience along with my engineering background is proving to be a huge asset to these companies.
bs: You have raced from sprint to 70.3 events, what distance do you feel most comfortable racing?
bc: I still love the Olympic Distance, but part of what drew me to triathlon is the endless learning curve of racing. I've started doing more half-iron distance races, like the 70.3 series, and it feels like 2007, when I was still green and learning something new every race. That is motivating and exciting!
bs: We remember you working at Speedy Reedy Multisport in Seattle ages ago, we have a hunch those were formative years, what are a few standout things you learned there?
bc: Speedy Reedy gave me the most influential and worthwhile lessons in my career. Looking back, working at a triathlon store allowed me to immerse myself in the sport before I had even done a race. Reed, the owner, gave me some invaluable advice, from how to get out of my wetsuit quickly to whether I should wear socks. Working there is where I tried my first blueseventy wetsuit (back then it was an Ironman Stealth), and where I fell in love with Cervelo bikes. I learned the basics of bike mechanics, and because I learned from an incredibly talented mechanic, I would say I'm better than most at maintaining my own gear.
I've come to believe that you cannot become great at a sport without falling in love with it. I fell in love with cycling quickly because I had great mentors who taught me to love my bike and treat riding like a spiritual pursuit. I learned the intricacies of cycling etiquette and immersed myself in the culture of the sport. Swimming has always been an emotional anchor for me, and when I'm having a bad day I go to the pool and swim until my head clears. I ran alone for years before I discovered how much fun a running group can be, and once I did my run has improved dramatically.
bs: Amazing what you took away from those early years and continue to learn today. Do you have any last words? Your mantra? Something we need to know about you?
bc: My mantra is "do it for the story". It motivates me to take risks that I otherwise wouldn't because, even if things go terribly wrong, I'll have a great story to tell. I have a lot of failure stories, but without making choices that could lead to failure I wouldn't have found success.