WESTPORT, Conn. – Fairfield’s Chris Kinney wears the colors of Targetraining when he races, making him look like a contender.
Kinney, who works in the Targetraining's retail cycling and triathlon department in Westport, will compete in Saturday’s New York Ironman. He races for enjoyment, however, not hardware. Although he reaps the benefits of associating with some of the nation’s top endurance athletes, he also endures expectations that he must be an elite athlete as well.
“It’s hard to go to a race and just be myself,’’ said Kinney, 48. “If you’re wearing a Targetraining outfit, people automatically assume you’re going to be fast.”
Saturday’s race starts at 7 a.m. with a 2.4-mile swim in the Hudson River. That is followed by a 112-mile bike ride on the Palisades Parkway. The race finishes with a 26.2-mile run that starts in New Jersey and crosses the George Washington Bridge before finishing in Manhattan.
Saturday’s Ironman will be the first for Kinney, who has done a number of triathlons, cycling events and running road races. “It’s local, the registration was open and I thought I’d take a shot,’’ said Kinney, who was among the athletes who got in before the race filled in 11 minutes. “It has been on the bucket list for a while. The goal is to have a good time.”
To do that, he has tapped the knowledge of his colleagues at Targetraining, particularly Dom Gillen, and the head of triathlon and swim programs. He also has access to some of the best equipment and information around.
“I have amazing athletes around me all day,’’ Kinney said. “The resources around me are just incredible. The people around me are an incredible inspiration.”
Kinney’s athletic background includes baseball and soccer. “In those sports, when you were told to go run, it was because you were in trouble,’’ Kinney said. He started working at Targetraining a few years ago and started to compete in triathlons. “The first time I went swimming, it was all I could do to make it across a 25-meter pool,’’ he said.
His strength is the bike. He has completed several noteworthy rides, including the grueling 7.6 grind to the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. “I get on the bike before I go to work,’’ Kinney said, “and sometimes I’ll ride to work. Sometimes I’ll ride home from work and I’ll actually be going away from my home, because I have to put in the miles.”
The bike holds the key for Kinney in Saturday’s race. The race begins at 7 a.m., and the course will shut down at midnight. “The bike will make it or break it for me,’’ Kinney said. “If I go too hard, too fast, I’ll just blow up. I have to conserve some energy for the run to get to the finish line.”