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Cohee Takes Silver in World Triathlon

Professor Tim Cohee finished second at the Triathlon World Championship

POLICYSki Business Professor Tim Cohee registered the fastest bike split at the triathlon World Championship, where he finished second

Courtesy of Tim Cohee

Courtesy of Tim Cohee

POLICYSki Business Professor Tim Cohee registered the fastest bike split at the triathlon World Championship, where he finished second

Francesca Curtolo, Sports Editor

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Ski Business Professor Tim Cohee placed second against the best 100 triathletes from around the world in his age bracket at the 2016 Triathlon World Championship in Cozumel, Mexico, on September 11-18.

“The biggest challenge in Cozumel was the heat,” said Cohee, who fought dehydration. “You just can’t keep enough water in you. At every station I was pouring water to try to get my body temperature down.”

In spite of the 90 degree heat and almost 100 percent humidity, Cohee brought home the silver medal in the 60 to 64-year-old age bracket. An Olympic discipline since 2000, the triathlon is a much older sport that combines three continuous and sequential endurance activities: swimming, cycling and running, respectively 1 mile (1.5 km), 25 miles (40 km), and 6.2 (10km) in distance.

Of the three events, the run was the hardest for Cohee. He said the head coach of the USA triathlon team kept telling him, “Cohee, this ain’t no Sunday race. This is the world championship, get your ass in gear.”

Cohee was aware that he didn’t perform at his best in the run, which was the last of the three disciplines.“I felt I just didn’t have it,” he said. “It was an incredible battle.

When I got to the finish, I was really, really bummed out. I was leading most of the way on the bike, and so I was thinking, ‘Man, I could win this thing,’ and then the run was just a disaster.”

Though Cohee’s swim and bike split times were outstanding, he said that from a strategic standpoint, “the mistake I made was that I went too hard on the bike.” Cohee, who had the fastest bike ride, came out of the water just 20 seconds behind the future gold medalist. Cohee has a history as a swimmer, and he said that for most triathletes, swimming is the most difficult part. “If you are not a good swimmer, you are exhausted. You spend a lot of energy trying to get out of the water, and you already have a disadvantage on the bike,” he said.

When he received the results a few hours after the race ended, he said, “My eye goes to 5th to 7th place, and I don’t see my name. I go to 11th and 12th place and I don’t see my name.” For a moment, he thought he was being disqualified. “All a sudden, my wife goes, ‘holy sh*#, you are second!’”

Still doubtful, Cohee went to the USA headquarters for the official results. There, his second place was confirmed. Cohee still didn’t realize how fast he went in the swim and bike sections combined. He said the officials told him, “You crushed the bike split.

You won it. No one was gonna catch you with seven minutes lead.” Cohee and the first-place winner, Michael McCombs, raced very tightly throughout the swim and bike ride, building up a great advantage even though, according to Cohee, “We both had a pretty crappy run.”

The two athletes had competed before; Cohee beat McCombs at the U.S. Nationals held in Nebraska a month earlier. “[McCombs] kept telling me that he was waiting for me to catch him because I caught him a month before,” Cohee said. Cohee knew he had a chance, being ranked second the prior year in the United States, but during any competition there are always many variables that lead to the victory. “Like in ski racing, you never know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Cohee said that running becomes much harder with aging. “If you look at swim-bike-run, what goes down the fastest with age is the run.” In the past, Cohee said, “I could freaking fly.”

Cohee trains 15 to 20 hours per week despite having two jobs and a family with five kids. “I have made up for age with the time I put in. But it’s not like I have nothing to do,” said Cohee, who is program chair of Ski Business and Resort Management at Sierra Nevada College and owner of the ski resort China Peak.

Cohee’s son Nick said, “I don’t know how he does it. I’m sure he has less than half the training time other triathletes his age do. Most of those older guys are retired or semi-retired and can train all the time. I’d say he is very structured with work, family and training.”

Cohee shared his passion for sports with his family, and Nick brought it to the next level, skiing for the U.S. Ski Team in the World Cup Circuit. “Growing up around fitness has been a real blessing. All my brothers have been and still are athletes, as well as the rest of my family. I would say my dad is the fittest of all of us, and while sometimes it is motivating, other times you can feel like you’re not pulling your weight (literally)!” said Nick.

With 5,000 participants, the Triathlon World Championship award ceremony was “a huge deal,” said Cohee. With its Mayan influence, the island of Cozumel in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has a strong tradition of triathlons, marathons and cycling competitions. “It’s sort of a mecca for this kind of thing, so people were partying and celebrating and dancing Mexican dance. I couldn’t believe it.”

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Cohee Takes Silver in World Triathlon