Triathlete to compete in World Championships
Doug Nowak is a triple threat: He recently qualified for the Triathlon World Championships to be held in Canada.
With that, Nowak, of Mukilteo, has now qualified for the world championships in every triathlon distance – Sprint, Olympic, Half Ironman and Ironman. He did it all in the last two years.
Nowak, 34, has been competing in triathlons since college. An “amateur athlete,” he has competed in 13 marathons, including the Boston Marathon three times, and seven Ironman triathlons.
He trained for triathlons even before then: Nowak was a swimmer as a child, and when he was in high school he ran cross-country and track.
“I got bored of just running, and I was looking for something more to do,” Nowak said. “My real pull to do it was the Hawaii Ironman; I saw it on TV growing up.”
The Hawaii Ironman World Championships is a long-distance triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile marathon run, in that order, with no breaks.
Nowak made it his goal to compete in the race, and last year he finally earned the qualifying spot for his age group from an Ironman race in New York.
He will also be competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Nevada, known as the Half Ironman. It is a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run.
“My initial goal was to do the Hawaii Ironman; that was my life’s goal,” Nowak said. “I accomplished that last year, and now I’m going down and checking the others off of the list.”
The “others” on his list include tackling the shorter triathlon races.
On Aug. 10 and 11 in Milwaukee, Wis., Nowak competed in the USA Triathlon National Championships in both the Sprint and Olympic distance categories.
The Sprint distance is a 0.75K swim, a 20K bike and 5K run. The Olympic distance is a 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run.
Nowak qualified for the National Championships by being an All-American athlete, which required him being in the top 5 percent of his age group.
In Milwaukee, Nowak finished in eighth place in his age group for Olympic Distance, and second place for Sprint Distance.
Both positions put him in the top 18 finishers for his age group and qualified him for the Triathlon World Championships next year, to be held in Edmonton, Canada.
“I know Doug is a tremendous athlete and a fierce competitor, but it still amazed me that he placed so high at the national level,” said Nowak’s wife Sangita Patel. Patel is also a marathon runner.
“I had fun watching him race, and I look forward to seeing what he can do at the world championships,” she said.
Nowak said he is looking forward to the overall atmosphere of the World Championships in Canada.
“For the amateur athlete, [the World Championships] is the only way you can represent your country doing triathlons,” Nowak said. “I’m racing with a team USA jersey. It’s supposed to be very exciting.”
Nowak competes in about six to eight triathlons a year, along with a few regular running races and snowshoe races.
This year, since he is competing in shorter distance triathlons, he trains about 8-10 hours a week, getting up at 4 or 5 a.m. before work to train.
His efforts have paid off: Nowak can now say he’s a triathlete who qualified for the world championships in every triathlon distance. Perhaps he’s not so “amateur” after all.
Nowak is a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon, and has a son who cheers him on at all of his races.
“My son is 2 1/2, and he recognizes the Ironman logo, and says when he grows up he wants to be ‘Ironman like Dada,’” Nowak said, laughing.
Zoe Jovanovich is an intern for the Mukilteo Beacon.