This month's interviewee is a member of Team TBBÂ (The Bike Boutique). He is a Texas boy turned pro triathlete. Ladies and Gentlemen, Brandon Marsh
FLMS: Brandon please tells our readers a little about yourself, where did you grow up?
JBM: I grew up in a smallish town south of Houston, Texas. Angleton, Texas. We had about 18,000 or so people in Angleton.
FLMS: What sports did you play as a youth?
JBM: You know, I was the weird kid that swam, biked, and ran. I started out on a swim team at about 8 years old or so. I played a year or two of baseball when I was even younger than that, but that was about the extent of it. I swam throughout High School and was above average swimming a shade under 5 minutes for the 500 yard free. I ran cross country in high school as well, but again, was just o.k. In college, I walked on the UH cross country team for about 1 season, but I was there for an education, so it was back to the books.
FLMS: What is your education background?
JBM: I went to the University of Houston, studied Chemical Engineering and received a B.S. I'm a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas, but obviously, for the time being, that has taken a bit of a backseat.
FLMS: When and why did you get involved with triathlon?
JBM: I mentioned age group swimming. A couple of guys that my dad worked with needed a relay swimmer for the â€śBrazosport Relay Triathlonâ€ť back in probably 1987 or so. I swam for them and met some triathletes at the race. After that, I did my first race in 1988. Then Ironkids in 1989 where I went to Nationals and was 9th or 10th. Hunter Kemper won that year, and Doug Friman finished a place before me. After that, I kind of just kept on racing, but never really focused fully on triathlon. In college I was there to get an education. After college, I moved to Austin to work full-time. Only in the last year have I trained and raced full-time.
FLMS: In your career you have multiple top 10 finishes, which one means the most to you and why?
JBM: It is hard to put a finger on one single race when I've done so many. I won the Texas State Championship in 1993, and that was a big deal for me since everyone was there, and I was only 18. I won the Capital of Texas Triathlon in 2005, and after several 2nd and 3rd place finishes, that one was nice since it was in Austin! Ironman UK this year (2010) I finished 5th. It's easy to say that one was my best finish since it was my highest, but I really think that it was a step forward when it comes to racing as a pro. The race didn't go all well, and wasn't a â€ścompleteâ€ť race, but I kept my focus and kept going, and ended up with a good finish. I had a rough start, getting a cramp about 2k into the swim. I could have called it a day there. I also lost a lot of time early in the bike. But, the 2nd half of the bike went well, and the run went pretty well. So, Ironman UK 2010 is what I consider one of my better races.
FLMS: What do you feel would make the complete race?
JBM: That's a tough one. It's very difficult to have one of those perfect races. I say that only because there are so many things that can happen in a race of any length. I have probably had about 4 races where everything just felt 'on' in my whole career. There have been good ones, bad ones, and everything in between. I've been working this year on the cycling for Ironman races. It has been an adjustment for me to be a full-time pro with the different training load, etc. It sounds great, and it's been a lot of tiresome and hard work, but I love it. So, 6 more months of hard work and continued adjustment, I suspect my answer will be different. At this time, a â€ścompleteâ€ť race is one where my swim is there (usually front pack), I have a strong ride, and then I have a solid run which should be well under 3 hours. Seems easy on paper.
FLMS: You and your wife, Amy, get to train and race together. How important is that to you?
JBM: Amy and I are lucky. We met through Master's swimming and triathlon. We train together quite a bit when we are at home or away from the training camps. Typically, we will do a lot of the same races, but this year we have done a few separate races as some might suit me better for different reasons or vice versa. In the end, we're both working towards being the best athletes and people that we can be, and we kind of keep each other in line when needed.
FLMS: What is your ultimate goal in triathlon?
JBM: Ultimate Goal. I won't be shy about it. I want to win an Ironman. Being able to say Top-10 in almost every single WTC event I competed as a pro is great, but I'd like a title to my name. I'd also like to race Kona as a pro and have a good race. But, I don't feel that Kona is the end all be all of triathlon. I've loved this sport since I started 20 or so years ago. I want to keep that feeling.
FLMS: Tell us about your coaching business?
JBM: I have a manageable number of athletes that I coach on a one on one basis via the web. For now, that is pretty much our business. Really making a 'go' at training and racing prevents us from doing much more than that...that is one of the adjustments that I've talked about, focusing on training and racing and being the best triathlete that I can be...for once!! Amy started out as a swim coach, and I have coached in one way or another since High School. So, coaching is definitely something that we enjoy doing, and something that we will focus on growing and developing more in the future. We both really enjoy being 'on deck' so to speak, and would like to have a steady group of athletes that we work with on a nearly day to day basis. For now though, we are focusing on the athletes that we have as well as adding a few more through the TeamTBB coaching business. TeamTBB has recently launched our online coaching business, and I think that a lot of age groupers will find that it is a good package for the money and you also get to have some input from one of the best coaches in the world.
FLMS: Team TBB is known throughout the triathlon world. How does being part of this team help you as an athlete?
JBM: There are a lot of teams that have popped up. Alex (Bok) and Brett (Sutton) have worked tirelessly to develop a team of athletes with the goal of providing us a way to make a living as professional triathletes. So, the TeamTBB story is unique not only in that we all have the same sponsors in Cervelo, Avia, Blue Seventy, Louis Garneau, ISM Saddles, 3T, Token Wheels, and The Bike Boutique, but also that we spend more than just a few days a year together at training camps and that we all work with Brett as a coach. Having been in the sport for so long, I have known about Brett Sutton for a long time. So, for me it is great to train under and learn from a coach, who is the best in the world. Being at training camps with other athletes is great. There is usually someone there when you're not feeling it or not having the best day to either pick you up or push you. And, even though we are all competitors on the race course and can have our differences, we can put those aside since we all want to see each other succeed and will work towards that.
FLMS: If you were not racing triathlon for a living, what would you be doing?
JBM: When I'm done racing, I reckon I will be doing one of a few things. I'll be teaching high school chemistry somewhere in Texas and coaching a cross country or swim team. I'll be working on building our coaching business and working with age group triathletes and the occasional elite. Or, I'll be doing independent engineering work dealing with public drinking water systems or something of the sort. And, exercising to stay fit and have fun!
FLMS: What is your take on the new pro rules?
JBM: Overall, I like them and think that they are a step in the right direction. I think that more emphasis should have been given to Ironman races for Kona Qualification in that only 2 70.3 events should count towards Kona qualification rather than 3 70.3s as the rules are now. Overall though, I like the new rules/system and think that the right and best athletes will earn their spot to Kona. I think that clarification/organization on the drug testing policy is needed. We also hear a lot (through the net) about the value of, or lack of, professional triathletes to races and race directors. It is partly up to us as professionals to show that value to race directors, sponsors, etc., but I also think that it is also up to the race directors, sponsors, etc. to help us with opportunities that add value to their races. And to age groupers who don't see added value to having pros, what would change their minds? There are pros out there who do this, but many times it is on an individual basis and not organized with the race. The Professional Triathlete Association has a goal of working towards this, but in the end I think that it is some give and take that will take effort from both sides whether it be professional triathletes, individual race directors, or directors of race series like the folks at WTC, Challenge, or Rev3 to name a few.
FLMS: What would like your fans to know most about Brandon Marsh?
JBM: I suspect that my fans...all 3 or so of you...know about all there is to know. But, you know, growing up in Texas...I've done most of the stereotypical Texas things like ride horses, shoot guns, etc! But, overall, I think that this interview provides just about enough info!!
What is your favorite: (answer each)
Type of race course (Flat or Hilly): Hilly
Last Book you read: The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
Vacation Spot: Mountains
Movie: older Top Gun, newer The Bourne series
Place to train: Thailand
Event: (Swim, Bike or Run): Depends on the day!!
Person you would like to meet: Tough to say, not just one comes to mind!