Forest Grove graduate wins Mid Summer Triathlon at Blue Lake Park, his second win of the summer

COURTESY PHOTO - Forest Grove High School and Oregon State graduate Marco Ramirez bikes during the second stage of a triathlon.Marco Ramirez has done it again.

The former Forest Grove resident and 2012 Viking graduate who now resides in Beaverton, added to his already impressive triathlon résumé by winning the Mid Summer Triathlon and Sports Festival's Sprint Triathlon July 30 at Blue Lake Park in Fairview, Oregon.

The win was Marco's second this summer, adding to his victory June 4 in the Blue Lake Triathlon and Sports Festival at — you guessed it — Blue Lake Park, and was his 24th triathlon victory since he began competing roughly six years ago.

"Winning at Mid Summer was cool because my dad was there," said Ramirez. "He moved to Texas when I was 12 and that was the first triathlon he was able to see. It was pretty exciting to have won it with him there."

Ramirez, a 2016 graduate of Oregon State University, currently works at Costco in Hillsboro and is pondering a return to school to pursue a degree in physical therapy.

"I've been considering physical therapy for a bit now," Ramirez said. "But I talked to a number of grad school students and they suggested I take some time off before starting a program. So that's what I'm doing."

The world of endurance sports, which are classified as sports that require sustained athletic performance at low intensities for long distances or periods of times, has become increasingly competitive since its inception during the late 1990s. High-level competitors spend countless hours training and many compete weekly throughout the summer months. But Ramirez, despite his success, has put training on the back burner of late and competes primarily for entertainment and health purposes.

"I'm actually not training nearly as much or all that intensively right now," he said. "I'm really just working out to stay healthy."

The 23-year-old volunteers at some of the events managed by Best In The West, an endurance sports events management company that owns and operates a number of events throughout the region. That work allows him to compete in any of the Best In The West and/or Why Racing (another events management company) events for free.

The two companies have a great partnership, said Ramirez, which "lets each other's volunteers compete in each other's races at no cost. Which is great for me."

Ramirez competed at this year's Hagg Lake triathlon in early July, finishing sixth in the Sprint Open Division. But he hadn't spent much time training so while somewhat disappointed with his finish, he understood it due to his knowledge of the work necessary to beat the sport's best competitors.

"It definitely takes dedication," he said. "Primarily due to the time."

Has he ever considered dedicating that amount of time in an effort to see his best?

"I tried it when I was in college but seemed to plateau," Ramirez said. "You have to be pretty gifted to excel at or near a professional level. I really got by with hard work, and that can only get you so far. I think I've seen my best."

At this year's Hagg Lake event, a number of different competitions were conducted, including varying distances, road and off-road tri's, duathlons which in most cases eliminate the swim while participants compete in a bike and run race, and even an off-road 5K run. With the sport continuing to grow and branching out beyond the traditional road races, would Ramirez consider these new kinds of events?

"At Wildflower last year I did a mountain bike triathlon when the bike was on a trail through the woods," said Ramirez. "I struggled quite a bit with the mountain biking and it really wasn't my type of thing."

And what about longer distances? Triathlete's primarily compete in either Sprint (750 meter swim, 20K bike, 5K run), Olympic (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run), or Ironman (3.8K swim, 180K bike, 42K run) distances, with the latter being the crown achievement of the triathlete's world. Ramirez has competed in an Olympic distance event but prefers the Sprints and doesn't foresee a jump to the Ironman level.

"In order to make it to that event, you really have to make it your life," Ramirez said.

"I don't think I'll ever do an Ironman distance," he continued, chuckling. "But that's what all triathletes say."

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