Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
Close to 8,000 triathletes call New York City home. That's more than double the number there were just five years ago, according to USA Triathlon, the sport's national membership organization. The sport is getting another boost this week when registration opens Wednesday at noon for the 2012 Ironman U.S. Championship, being held for the first time here in New York City and New Jersey. For coach Scott Willett, the growth of the sport means the growth of his business.
"We started off offering an Ironman-specific program for Ironman distance triathlons," said Willett, who launched a company called TriLife to train athletes for the massive multi-sport event, "swim 2.2 miles, bike 112, and run a marathon."
Members of the TriLife Ironman team pay close to $3,000 for 10 months of coaching and training. But the program comes with more than a price tag: there's also a screening process that Willet and his fellow coaches use to identify any red flags, like personality issues that may keep a person from being a team player.
With more than 30 years of experience to his name, Willett also runs the triathlon program for Team in Training, the fund-raising arm of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The team is open to anyone as long as they're willing to raise money for cancer research. He's coached more than 3,000 athletes through the program.
All these athletes keep Willett busy, but he loves a challenge. As his 50th birthday approaches in December, Willett plans to do an epic event to commemorate the occasion.
"I think I’m going to run from my home in New Paltz to Manhattan," said Willett, "that’s my current plan."