More than 2,700 athletes competed in the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship held in Milwaukee, Wis., last weekend. Soon-to-be hometown hero Lance Fargo of Ocean View was one of them, winning the Clydesdale 40+ division and bringing home the national title to Delaware.
Fargo is no stranger to success when it comes to major competitions, but this race was different.
“I’ve been successful in local competitions and even traveling, but the national championship is the best of the best,” he explained, “I’m confident in my abilities, but when I saw the scale of the event, I started thinking, ‘Wow, this is really a big deal.’”
A former football tight end and wrestler, Delaware’s new iron man hasn’t always been a runner or a fitness freak.
“The funny thing is, I hated running for football,” he recalled with a laugh.
In fact, Fargo only started competing in events after a friend talked him into running a 5K in his early 30s. He ended up winning the event.
“I got that trophy in my hand and I thought, ‘Hey, this is pretty cool.” It wasn’t until then that he started getting serious about running.
He started competing regularly in local 5Ks, such as those organized by the Seashore Striders. He was placing in most races and even winning some of them. At 6 feet, 5 inches tall, he was also gaining a lot of attention due to his size.
That’s when he found out about the Clydesdale division, which is limited to men weighing more than 220 pounds. Soon, he was competing for national championships with people his own size, traveling to Massachusetts, West Virginia and even as far as Arizona to compete. He even ended up winning his division in Tucson in 2000.
It was around that time that he started looking into triathlons, even though he had no prior swimming background.
“That was a major handicap for me,” he claimed, still noting the event as his weakness in competitions to this day.
Fargo ended up mastering his biking skills after he developed a case of planter fasciitis in his right foot in 2008 and had to take about a year and a half off from running. When his foot fully healed, he began running again, only to be forced back on his bike six months later after developing the same affliction in his left foot.
His almost two and a half year hiatus from running may have turned what could have been a detrimental hindrance in his triathlon career into what is now his greatest strength.
“There’s always going to be guys that are faster than me in the water. The bike is my best opportunity to close the gap.”
Fargo ended up doing just that last Saturday, as he passed two of his rivals in the event and ended up beating his goal time of 1:04:00 and coming in at 1:02:57.
He ended up passing his two other rivals during the run, but he didn’t actually realize he had won his division until his wife, Paula, brought him his time ticket.
“That was an emotional moment for me. She’s a tremendously important part of Team Fargo.”
Delaware’s newly appointed national champion is planning on taking it easy this week and enjoying his victory, but it won’t be long until he’s hard at work again. Fargo plans to compete in local triathlons held in Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach and Cape Henlopen this fall.Ocean View man a champion among triathletes