This year's 15-19 XTERRA Pan Am Champ, Sophie Allen, decided to try her first XTERRA because a 2016 family road trip took her near the XTERRA Whitewater course. A few months later, she was the XTERRA Southeast Regional Champ.
Now, Allen is a two-time Regional Champ and an XTERRA Pan Am Champ. This year she was first in her age group at XTERRA Panther Creek, XTERRA Blackwater, and placed second at XTERRA Oak Mountain to XTERRA World Champ, Heather Horton.
We caught up to Sophie between school, cross country practice, and band to hear how this high school sophomore is going after her dreams.
Q. How did you get into triathlon?
A. I've always been athletic and my family is athletic as well. So I started mountain biking and swimming at a very young age and eventually I did my first Fit Kids Triathlon when I was five or six. My dad got me into triathlons because he used to race them as well. Ever since I started racing, I realized it was something I loved to do. I also love karate and tennis, but I'm glad I've gone back to what I first started with - triathlons!
Q. How did your find your first XTERRA?
A. My dad raced a couple of XTERRA's when I was younger. He's always loved the off-road scene. And every summer my dad, my sister, and I take an epic road trip. Last summer, our road trip went through Charlotte, so we decided to take our chances and sign up for XTERRA Whitewater. Why not? I was completely unprepared and it was my first time racing four miles. I was super nervous, but I finished and I've been hooked ever since.
Q. How do you train?
A. Training is the biggest thing going on in my life along with academics and music. I run cross country during the school week and sometimes go to the gym after. The weekends are when I train the hardest. My dad and I get up early in the morning and go mountain biking before it gets super humid and hot. And since there are no hills in Florida, to train for the climbs, I bike on a trail that goes up and down a landfill! That's the biggest hill around, but I'll just do as many laps as I can. After that, we'll go to our local beach and do a open water swim. It so scenic especially, during high tide, and I get to see all the coral reefs and marine life. And sometimes when we are really motivated we'll go to the gym after to run or to do strength training.
Q. Is it difficult to fit training in with a school, friendships, and other interests?
A. It is difficult and stressful at times to balance everything with homework and music, since I go to an arts school called Dreyfoos School of the Arts. We aren't much of a sports school but I do run cross country and track. It helps to have a routine, and my dad and I motivate each other every step of the way which really helps. I run cross country after school everyday. And on certain days when I don't have much homework, I go to the gym or bike.
To be completely honest, I put my training before my social life. I rarely hang out with friends because I need and want to train.
Q. Do you follow a strict diet or just eat what makes you happy and feel good when training?
A. For about 11 months now I've been vegan, and I've never felt better. I personally decided to make the switch after realizing it was the best for my health, the planet and the animals. I try to stick to whole plant foods and not a ton of processed stuff but if I'm craving something I'll usually indulge - in something vegan of course!
Q. What are your goals for the future?
A. I would love to make racing triathlons my profession or even a prominent part of college. My dream school is University of Colorado, Boulder, I heard their triathlon team is amazing! And it seems like a wonderful place to train!
Q. What do you love about the trails?
A. I love being out in nature, it's so peaceful and so scenic. I don't have to worry about school, social life, or anything else but the trail and myself. It clears your mind and you get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Q. Of the three sports, which is your favorite?
A. This is such a hard question but I probably love biking the most just because I've been doing it for so long. But I've been getting into running more and more since I run cross country, and I love that too. To be honest, I just love all three.
Q. Can you talk a bit about your race at Utah this year? How was it? How did you feel? How was the course?
A. I was super nervous coming into this race, just because I didn't have the chance to pre-run the course and there was over 3000 feet of climbing. Coming from Florida, I knew it was going to be a challenge. But I did better than I expected. I felt great and even though the climb was tough, I just kept on pedaling. The course was amazing! It was so scenic and rewarding once you were on top on the mountain. The views, people, and race were outstanding and I can't wait to do it again next year!