Hawaii’s fastest XTERRA man this year is Sergio Florian.
He won the XTERRA Freedom Fest off-road triathlon (Hawaii’s qualifier) and was the top Hawaii guy at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, placing 13th in the highly competitive 35-39 division. Florian also won the Lanikai, North Shore, and Firecracker road triathlons this year.
Florian, 35, was born in Argentina, moved to Southern California at the age of 12 and has been living in Kaaawa since 2007. He got his doctorate in physical therapy from Loma Linda University and is the owner/ operator of Wellness Physical Therapy, a private pay, mobile PT service specializing in spinal cord and brain injuries.
He’s been racing XTERRA for four years now, and does it “because I love pushing myself, being out on the trails and enjoying nature.”
Sergio first learned about XTERRA through a friend who convinced him to do the XTERRA MountainMan Triathlon, and fell in love with the sport after that.
He says his favorite XTERRA race is Freedom Fest because “the event organizers are super cool and they really put their heart and soul into the event. Also, it's held right in my backyard, in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
This year, for the first time, Florian worked with a coach and was able to take his training and racing to a new level.
“I mostly train solo, except for swimming, as I have a great group of swimmers that push me (Michelle Simmons and Team BSC). Also, The Bike Shop Hawaii has taken me in as part of their family and really helped me out a lot,” said Florian.
He says his role model is Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz from South Africa.
“I started researching a little about how he lives and trains, and I was blown away. What impressed me is how disciplined he is and how smart he is about his training. He's older now, but still doing well because he trains smart and lives a healthy lifestyle.
Florian also lives a healthy lifestyle, and moreover, helps others to do the same as part of his physical therapy business.
“My main motto—and I share this with my clients looking to reach their personal goals—is to never let anyone dictate what your limits are,” said Florian. “Never give up, and always set high goals for yourself. I have clients who have been told that they will never be able to do what they love again. I love to help them prove everybody wrong. And the same goes for my training and racing. Never give up, even when your own mind is telling you no.”
Despite being an XTERRA athlete and loving to swim, bike and run, when the waves are good Sergio’s favorite thing to do is surf, and “I'm fortunate enough to have warm water and waves year round,” he said.
Despite his busy schedule Sergio says his family is the foundation of his life.
“I couldn't do any of these activities that I enjoy without the love and support of my family. I have a 2-year-old son, and spending time with him is a priority. Spending time with my family is the most important thing in my life. My wife and mother-in-law are both very supportive of my racing and have played a huge role in my success,” he said.
Florian’s positive outlook and great conditioning also put him in the right place at the right time for one family this summer. Here he tells the story on how he helped a Mom and her boy survive a rough outing in the ocean
“So I won a triathlon today…,” started Florian’s post on Facebook on April 13… “But what happened after is the only thing on my mind. And I think it will stay with me forever. After the race a group of us decided to swim to the mokes. We made it out there and had a blast. As we're about to head back, myself and another swimmer spot a kayak flipped over and in distress just off the island. We swim out and attempt to help. We tried to get them back on the kayaks but the wind and the surf kept flipping us over. As we drifted in to the impact zone we got separated and our kayak was smashed by a 10 foot wave. So here I am holding a 7 year old boy in my arms as we take wave after wave on the head. Panic is setting in at this point. I thought of my son at that moment. I held that boy close and wasn't going to let go. After getting pounded and hitting the reef a bunch of times we got to the deeper area with no waves. I spot the boys mom and got to her in time. She couldn't swim anymore. I then breast stroked with them on my back to shore. Took a while but luckily everyone was saved. The other swimmer in our group helped the other kayak get to shore with two other people. The fire department rescued two other people who managed to make it to the island. Crazy day!!”
As further insight into the character of Florian, this week he opened his home to a couple of elite runners from California taking part in this Sunday’s XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.
“My coach said they were looking for a place and got us in touch. I have an empty guest room available so I offered it to them. I don't mind helping out other athletes. They sound like cool people. And I'm literally 2 miles from the ranch.”
Florian will also run at the ranch on Sunday, and is looking to make it a 3-for-3 as the fastest XTERRA guy in Hawaii. He’s already established himself as one of the coolest.