View from the Pros

First-year pro Kelly Fillnow, 29, of Charlotte has her own coaching business and recently founded a nonprofit called RunningWorks. Her 9:29:49 finish at Ironman Austria was an amateur record. Here’s what she had to say about Charlotte:

“I believe that Charlotte  is one of the best areas to live as a triathlete. The cost of living is low, and the city is surrounded by gorgeous lakes and mountains within riding distance. Most importantly, the quality of people here makes me never want to leave. I am overwhelmed with the selflessness of many athletes and the generosity of so many supporters who are all trying to help me reach my dreams. You certainly cannot find that in most cities. 

“I like training on the booty loop (short loop in Charlotte) because I can always find a friend or make one while looping safely through beautiful Myers Park. I also love riding along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina from 600-6,000 feet. Who needs Boulder when we have the Blue Ridge Parkway nearby?”

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Twenty-seven-year-old James Haycraft qualified for his Pro Card by winning the Myrtle Beach Triathlon in October 2011. As the bike manager at InsideOut Sports in Charlotte, Haycraft has an ideal work-life situation for a triathlete. Here’s what he had to say about Charlotte:

“There are local triathletes here that are as good as if not better in some ways than many pros currently on the circuit. There are sub-14-minute 5kers, 2:24 marathoners, professional cyclists, elite masters swimmers, etc., to train with. The great part is that the community is, for the most part, very inclusive.   

“Any of the Setup Events IOS NCTS races can offer a great deal of competition. James Duff, Kenneth Svendsen, Tom Clifford, Matt Wistoff, David Sokolofosky, and Brad Perry are just a few pros (or qualified to race pro) who can show up at any race and really lay the hurt down. The competition among masters as well is incredibly fierce. Any race can be incredibly competitive.  

“Some places that I’ve trained or raced (most notably Tucson and Santa Barbara) are better from certain perspectives but significantly worse in others. Every time I’ve returned home to Charlotte I’ve been thankful for everything it offers.”