Tuesday, June 13, 2006


They may not be passing YOU by quite yet, but if heavyweight triathlete William Goins has anything to say about it, the age-group competition had better start looking over their collective shoulders because the “Fat Boys” are coming.

A resident of lower Manhattan, William is the President of the film, television and theater production company, GoShow Entertainment (www.goshowent.com) and like most amateur triathletes he juggles work and training. However, at six feet six inches, and weighing in at a robust (by Triathlon standards anyway) 210 pounds, William races in the division lovingly known as Clydesdales. In the early years of Triathlon, this division consisted of larger triathletes who competed against their 160 pound brothers with something extra called the “drag coefficient”, so race organizers created a new division for these 200-plus pounders. With the new division came the prerequisite “Fat Boy” jokes regarding excessive sea water displacement whenever they hit the surf, as well as extra support now needed for the awards stage, and of course the need to supply plenty of Budweiser in the water bottles.

As the sport grew, the Clydesdale division became the fastest growing division in Triathlon, which made perfect sense as this portly group represented the athletic community’s “everyman”. Soon, nearly every race from the local mom-and-pop races to the races organized by Ironman featured a Clydesdale division.

To date, neither the Ironman World Championships in Kona nor the Half Ironman World Championships in Clearwater have the Clydesdale division nor do they offer a qualifying spot. Regardless, as the ranks began to swell, a notable physical change was also taking place within those ranks. The fat was being replaced by muscle and the Clydesdales were getting faster.

Fast-forward to the 05-06 racing season. Given the rigid restrictions at both World Championships, William knew that the only way to qualify for Hawaii and/or Clearwater and fulfill his dream was to race against the skinny age-groupers (60 or more pounds lighter) for a coveted slot. William also knew that the only way to do this was to drop a few pounds, (literally train his ass off), and on race-day… to go really, really fast. To put it in perspective, pick up 50 or 60 pounds of weight and go run up a hill. Now strap those weights to your back and go do an Ironman.

The world loves firsts, and the relatively young sport of Triathlon is no exception. The first multiple winner at Kona. The first to break eight hours. The first handicapped finisher in Hawaii. The fastest swim, bike or run split or even the crazy age-grouper who was the first to complete over 100 Ironman races. The debate rages on as to whether or not the half and full Ironman World Championships should offer a qualifying slot for the world's fastest Clydesdale athletes but in the mean time, and in true, hard-core, type-A triahtlete fashion, William Goins chose not to wait.

In Ironman Florida in November, 2005, 47 year-old William managed a sub 10-hour Ironman finish and in the process beat the odds and his thinner competition, grabbing the final qualifying slot for Kona. He managed the same result in the Half Ironman World Championship qualifier at the Disney Resort in Orlando in May, 2006. Notably, in both races, William stood on the podium representing the “Fat Boys”, making him the first heavyweight in Ironman history to qualify in age-group for either (and both) World Championships.

So on race-day, if you’re one of those skinny age-groupers, and you hear methodic heavy breathing and thundering foot-falls at your back, better kick it up a notch or you too will know the experience of having a “Fat Boy” pass you by.