Brad Culp – Triathlon Mag Editor
In life, some faces seem to never disappear. They keep popping up over and over. In high school we faced each other multiple times a year in Water Polo, in college same story. Then after college we cross paths again, this time in triathlon. Brad Culp is not a sub-4 half guy or 29 minute 10Ks, but as triathletes we all know his work. Brad spent quite some time as the editor and writer for Triathlete Magazine, and after some hop scotch is now with Lava. Let’s learn a little about Brad….over the last 5 years you have gone from the editor of Triathlete magazine, to Competitor Group, to ITU, and now Lava Magazine. It sounds like a crazy journey, but the job has a lot more to it than just a Monday to Friday 9-5. Tell me about a normal week during race season? How many weekends a year are you actually at home?
Brad – Between May and October my schedule can get a little hectic, but it’s definitely the time of year I look forward to most. Typically I’ll travel to one or two big races each month, so I get a couple of weekends at home. I almost always prefer working on the road, but I do miss my bike when I’m away from San Diego.
Andrew – You have been an athlete your whole life. We had the opportunity to beat up on each other in both High School and College in Water Polo. Since then we have both competed in triathlon. We have both done some pretty crazy races, training, and stunts. Looking back at the journey, what are your favorites stories to tell?
Brad – Most of my favorite triathlon stories involve the three years I spent competing on the Miami of Ohio triathlon team. Collegiate triathlon is booming and it was very cool to be a part of for a few years. We used to pack up my Jeep and drive to a different race every weekend. If there was a triathlon within 800 miles of Oxford, Ohio, we were probably there. I remember a few good after parties.
Andrew – Over the 25 years that triathlon magazines have been in existence, about every topic has been written and rewritten. Most experienced triathletes have ceased their subscriptions to triathlon magazines because they feel it is the same articles over and over (training articles, beginner athletes articles, ect) and less and less new coverage (race coverage, pro interviews, in depth articles and reviews). With Lava being the “New Kid on the Block” and owned by WTC, what is the goals of the magazine and how is it going to be different from it’s predecessors? With ITU, WTC, USAT, and many more international races and governing bodies, what races are going to be the focus of Lava?
Brad – We want LAVA to be a magazine specifically for those people who aren’t getting what they need from the other tri mags. Triathlon is a very complex sport, and there’s a lot to learn, which can be daunting for a beginner. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and you don’t know where to get started, pick up Triathlete. If you feel like you can flip through Triathlete without learning anything new, give LAVA a try. LAVA is for the guy who wants to smash his Ironman PR this year. We’ll cover every aspect of the sport – from XTERRA to ITU to Paratriathlon, but most of our training and racing content will be long-distance focused.
Brad – You see quite a few former water polo players excelling in multisport. What do you think it is about polo that makes athletes tough enough for tri?
Andrew – Great question, Julie Swail Ertel has definitely experienced the most success in both sports. As for why, a couple answers. The first, aggressive swimming, triathlon is often not won in the swim, but very easily lost in the swim. One of the toughest situations is getting out of the water absolutely wasted from getting swam over, kicked, pulled ect…Heck the swim in triathlon is a fast break in polo in slow motion. The second is treading water. The muscles that burn to no end when you are elevating (in polo) out to your suit to catch a pass, block a shot, or bury a shot in the back of the net are very much the same that you use in cycling. The third is physical toughness. There is no pause in polo, during a pause you are treading water, manhandling your opponent, or swimming. There are more, but I feel those are likely the most transferable between the two sports.
What is the single greatest triathlon performance you have experienced? It does not have to be pro, it was just one that made you drop your jaw.
Brad – The most amazing race I’ve witnessed firsthand was Chrissie Wellington at the Alpe d’Huez triathlon in 2007. It wasn’t the year she almost won the overall title there, but she did win the women’s race by a landslide and finished in the top ten overall. I was doing the race for the first time and having a really rough day. I was doing fine until the run, which takes place at around 7,000 feet of elevation. I had been living in Ohio at the time, and hadn’t been more than 200 feet above sea level in a few years. I ran maybe a mile and from then on it was just a shuffle. I could hardly breath. It was a three lap course, and I remember Chrissie lapping me twice as I struggled to maintain a ten-minute per mile pace. She had a smile on her face and was making one of the hardest races in the world look easy. I was in the best shape of my life and still felt like I was dying. That was the first time I saw Chrissie and I knew right then that she had something pretty special going on.
A lot of athletes in the sport deal with different injuries. You have battled one of the most painful for quite a few years. Talk about Sciatica, and your battle with it. What has worked best for you?
Brad – Why’d you have to bring up the sciatica! My back was feeling good this morning and for a minute I forgot about it. I burst a pair of discs in my lower back two years ago and spent about a year battling really bad sciatica. Right after the injury I took three months off of running and six months off cycling. Swimming seemed to help loosen things up, so I was in the pool six or seven days a week. Things really came around after I got my flexibility back. In the end, keeping a healthy back is just about doing those things that you already know you need to be doing. Keep a strong core, stay flexible, and you’ll have a happy back. I also bought an inversion table after about six months of fighting sciatica. That thing is great to stretch things out before a ride.
Thank you Brad for taking some time to let us get to know the man behind the words of triathlon. I look forward to seeing you at the races in 2011 and as always, a healthy safe and fast season.