Professional triathlete Max Fennell was in between sips of coffee when he answered the decision for our mid-morning interview. It wasn’t Folgers in his cup, however slightly a freshly roasted brew from Fenn Coffee, the corporate he based in 2018. You see, Fennell isn’t your common athlete.



“I’m just one of those people who doesn’t want to wait for things to get done,” Fennell says. “I’ll just go do it.”

When he’s not working his espresso firm or competing in a grueling triathlon, Fennell’s mind-boggling busy schedule contains serving as chair of the Community Engagement and Outreach Committee for Menlo Park––Fennell’s hometown within the Bay Area. He’s appeared on varied aggressive TV exhibits, together with a stint on Million Dollar Mile (a actuality present produced by Lebron James and hosted by Tim Tebow). And if that’s not sufficient, he picked up bow searching final yr through the pandemic and now considers it one among his secret weapons.

Fennell identifies as an entrepreneur, hunter, and public servant, even when triathlete is what he’s finest often called.

Courtesy of Max Fennell
Courtesy of Max Fennell

On August 15, Fennell can be standing on the beginning line of what he considers his dwelling race: Escape From Alcatraz. This grueling race attracts two thousand athletes from over 50 international locations, all of whom can be confronted with a 1.5-mile swim within the San Francisco Bay’s uneven water, an 18-mile bike experience up and down the town’s steep hills, and an eight-mile run that options the soul-crushing Sand Ladder––a brutal set of cliff stairs. Most folks would shudder on the considered this race, however the unpredictability, the grind––that’s what Fennell lives for.

“There are a lot of variables you have to account for,” Fennell says. “This is a race where you can’t expect anything. You’ve just got to wait and see what happens on race day, then adapt.”

Max Fennell
Courtesy of Max Fennell

Fennell will get pleasure from a home-field benefit, as he often trains in a lagoon that connects to the San Francisco Bay’s chilly waters––negating some of the daunting components. In addition to his cold-water swim coaching, Fennell depends on a constant biking and working schedule to remain in peak situation. While different triathletes stress about race prep and obsess over executing their plan, Fennel understands this race requires a special mindset.

“It’s all about showing up to the race feeling strong and confident knowing you can handle whatever’s thrown at you—not being worried about who’s showing up on race day,” he says.

This mindset could be attributed to final yr, when he had a possibility to compete within the Spartan Games––an impediment course endurance race that options as much as 30 totally different obstacles. The expertise impressed him to alter his strategy to racing—to focus much less on profitable and extra on competing and pushing himself to his outer limits. And Fennell’s not simply pushing himself to the sting in triathlons.

Max Fennell
Courtesy of Max Fennell

The 33-year-old lately started backcountry bow searching, a problem that assessments each his bodily and psychological limits in methods triathlons can’t. I might hear the joy in his voice as he described the arduous activity of carrying a 60-pound backpack up a mountain alongside rugged ridgelines. He spoke of stealthily pursuing turkeys for 5 straight hours whereas battling nature’s uncooked components––gusty winds, wild temperature swings, and different four-legged predators. It’s not the kind of expertise most individuals, a lot much less most triathletes, expertise.

“Hunting is actually going to make me a stronger athlete more than anything,” Fennell says. “I think that’s the biggest edge I have over my competitors.”

Later this yr, Fennell will strive air gun searching in Texas as a part of a searching tv present—however that’s as near searching with weapons as Fennel is concerned about. He’s a bow searching purist at coronary heart and revels within the distinctive problem and hazard that comes with searching within the wilderness.

“When you’re doing a competition, you’re competing with another human and trying to win,” says Fennell. “With fight or flight, you’re wondering if there’s a grizzly bear or a black bear around you. It’s a different kind of fear, but it unlocks a different level in your brain to go deeper and harder.”

Courtesy of Max Fennell
Courtesy of Max Fennell

Throughout his life, Fennell has by no means been afraid to dig deeper or go tougher to beat an impediment in his approach.

In 2014, Fennell made historical past by turning into the primary black triathlete to get his professional card. Unfortunately, the sponsorship {dollars} didn’t observe. While he’s managed to help himself by beginning his enterprise, Fenn Coffee, he’s now engaged on a brand new initiative to pave the way in which for different black athletes attempting to interrupt into the game.

“There’s still not a lot of opportunities for black endurance athletes in terms of sponsorship or any support,” he says. “I realized we need to create an initiative to address that and help provide opportunities to open doors.”

He’s at the moment within the means of constructing a non-profit group, the United Endurance Project, which is able to work to determine and supply monetary help to black endurance athletes on the cusp of going professional in triathlon or OCR racing.

The larger the impediment, the extra motivated Fennell is to beat it. It’s an outlook we are able to all profit from.

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