Trying the Other Side of Triathlon Training
Name a city in the U.S. or abroad and, chances are, Toby Mollett probably has been there at some point.
The self-labeled Army brat has racked up more frequent flier miles than he has time to count. From Fort Lewis to Germany, to Kansas and Oregon, among other places, Mollett has seen it all, whether it be on his bike, in the water or pounding the trails with his own two feet while quenching his triathlon thirst.
Today, Mollett is living, breathing proof that some voyages take several off-road routes to find the right destination.
When he’s not training or working, the 27-year-old Mollett, who now lives in Black Diamond, looks to a support system that includes his wife and three sons. It’s a system that has watched Mollett go from triathlon standout to a dedicated coach and event director at Raise the Bar, a Covington-based triathlon club that trains professionals and educates anyone interested in swimming, cycling and running.
“Instead of me out there training myself and putting in the time in training myself and racing, I’m helping other people do that,” he said. “I’ve learned so much by coaching and being able to teach that it is pretty awesome.”
Raise the Bar, which started in 2003, manages the largest triathlon team in the Pacific Northwest, organizes training events for athletes and hosts events, including the XTERRA off-road triathlon series. The XTERRA American Tour makes its next stop on Sunday at Lake Sawyer in Black Diamond, and the bulk of the participants will be coming from Covington, Kent, Black Diamond, Maple Valley and Auburn, among other South County communities.
The Lake Sawyer race will mark Mollett’s first try at organizing a triathlon, and Raise the Bar founder Patty Swedberg couldn’t be more pleased with the results. It’s the first time the XTERRA race series has come to the Northwest.
And Mollett was just the man for the job, Swedberg said.
“Right when I first met him, he told me about his passion for XTERRA,” she said. “He’s just a real mature middle-20’s guy who has a passion for racing and has a passion for XTERRA.”
The national off-road event includes a 1,000-meter swim, 15-mile mountain bike ride and a four-mile trail run. Competitors have the opportunity to tally points and earn a shot at the national and world championships, which will take place in Maui in October.
A new point of view
As the director, Mollett is seeing first-hand an entirely different dynamic to the grueling competition.
“It’s definitely an enlightenment seeing the other side of triathlon in the actual directing of it instead of actually competing in it,” Mollett said. “You definitely see what it takes to put one of those on – and it’s way more than what you think.
“I’m glad I got to see this side of it, and I love it. It’s really fun to make that available to athletes.”
But Mollett knows all about the competitive side of triathloning, too.
Shortly after his high school days in Bonanza, Ore., were finished, Mollett – who was born at Fort Lewis, learned his ABCs and multiplication tables in Germany, then lived for a time in Manhattan, Kan., before he and his family came to Oregon – served in the Army for one year at a base just four miles from the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
It was in that locale – one of the most dangerous places in the world – where Mollett found his inspiration to give this a try.
“We watched a lot of television while I was there because there’s not a lot else to do,” Mollett said. “We watched the Summer Olympics, and that’s the first year the triathlon was entered into the Olympics.
“When I saw the triathlon in the Olympics, I thought that was really cool,” Mollett said. “I jumped into the pool that night, started swimming all year and trained myself to swim, and started to do triathlons when I got back to the base.
“I’ve been racing ever since.”
Mollett left the Army in 2001 and traveled back to Bonanza, a football town, but one that hails all local sports as a religion. During his high school days there, he had found niche in football and especially in track and field, discovering his passion for running. Mollett wanted to reunite with his athletic aspirations, and also wanted to attend Oregon State University in Corvallis, but he wasn’t finished fine-tuning his goals.
After switching majors, he decided to attend the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, the only Oregon school to offer a four-year program in land surveying. He earned his degree in 2005.
Making his mark
It was in 2004, during his junior year at OIT, when Mollett discovered the XTERRA race series, a triathlon tour that includes stops in 14 countries. The races are open to both pro and amateur competitors.
Mollett started to rise in the triathlon sports. He finished in the top 15 in the Triple Threat series at Fort Lewis and earned appearances at national events.
Something just seemed to click between Mollett and the triathlon. But a missing piece of the puzzle remained.
In order to compete on a regular basis and fuel his desire, he required guidance from a coach.
So he turned to Raise the Bar and received more than he ever imagined.
“I was looking for a triathlon coach, and I ended up being a coach,” he said. “And with starting the family, I ended up actually not racing as much because I was starting a career and starting a family.”
Having joined the Raise the Bar team four years ago, the relationship has become a match made in heaven for both Mollett and the Covington-based club.
Especially when it has come to organizing this weekend’s Lake Sawyer event.
“He’s done a fabulous job and has thought of details that I wouldn’t have thought of,” club founder Swedberg said.
“He’s going to run a first class event.”
National off-road triathlon series
• WHAT: XTERRA Off-road triathlon. The event will include a 1,000-meter swim, 15-mile mountain bike ride, and four-mile trail run. Most of the competitors will be from Washington while only a few are from out of the state. The triathlon is being put on by Raise the Bar and Yarrow Bay Communities. Raise the Bar is a triathlon training and events business located in Covington.
• WHEN: Sunday, Aug. 3 at 9 a.m.
• WHERE: South end of Lake Sawyer Park in Black Diamond.
• WHO: Athletes of all levels are invited and encouraged to participate either individually or as teams. Age-group and overall cash awards will be presented to the athletes, as well as a large number of raffle prizes such as wetsuits and racing gear. Residents of Black Diamond, Maple Valley, Covington, Kent, and all surrounding areas are invited.
• ON THE WEB: For more information, log onto www.weraisethebar.com
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