Panther Triathlon club president sets goal at full Ironman competition

Anthony Calatayud/Contributing Writer


Imagine the most intense training that you have ever gone through, pushing yourself to the limit with every step you take. Whether it is running in the hot sun, swimming in your favorite body of water or riding bike through city streets or isolated dirt roads. The combination of all three of these exercises makes up a Triathlon. Everybody has an exercise routine that could involve one of the three aforementioned workouts. What everybody doesn’t have is the mental strength to not only push themselves to do it, but be the sole motivating factor. That’s right, no coach to push you, no time-out to help you when you’re tired; it’s just you and your resolve.

FIU has it’s own group of these extraordinary people walking its campus, led by club president Ernie Diaz.

“Coming from a running background in high school, I was consistently involved with the local Miami running community. With that noted, I came across a flyer one day that peaked my interest. The event being advertised not only consisted of running, but swimming and cycling as well,” Diaz said.

Not many people get involved with competing in triathlons, Diaz was able to have an inside scoop to the world that intrigued him by a close family friend.

“At the onset of my training I partnered up with my family friend, German Plascensia who is 67, he provided me with key training tips and guidance. Over the course of my first season I was driven to compete in as many races possible. In essence, I was inspired by German and his strong discipline to persevere during training and life,” Diaz said.

Most students at FIU don’t know how grueling a triathlon can be, heck; most humans can’t comprehend how grueling a triathlon really is! Races vary in length from sprint, Olympic, half-ironman, and ironman.

“To be concise, a sprint is comprised of a 400-800 meter swim, 10-12 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run. An Olympic distance race is the same as a sprint with the distances doubled,” Diaz said. “As for a half-ironman, the distances are a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile ride, and a 13.1 mile run.”

Think about the physical shape that you have to be in to do just one leg of a triathlon. Diaz goes on to say that the training is beyond extensive.

“For sprints and olympics, I typically train about 5-6 hours a week with 2 swims, 2 runs, and 2 bikes. For a long race such as a half-ironman, the training volume increases to about 10-12 hours. The breakdown would consist of 2 swims, 3 rides (40-75 miles each) and 2 runs (6-9 miles each),” Diaz said.

FIU has a relatively new Triathlon Club, since the club is about two years old it hasn’t competed in a litany of races.

“The FIU squad has not had the opportunity to race as much as older teams such as FSU or UF. Yet, with that being said, each time we have raced collegiately we have had athletes place in the top 10% of their age groups. Moreover, we have also had several top 10 overall finishes throughout the last two seasons,” Diaz said.

This Panther club is young but not afraid to go against the bigger and older schools that have been entrenched in the triathlon scene for decades.

“Since the club’s inception, there has been a sort of camaraderie created between the members. Each member understands that the club is a learning space to grow as athletes and as individuals,” Diaz said.

“With everything one does, there is more than likely an end result or a certain peak,” Diaz said. “For me, that is not necessarily true as I find triathlon to be more of a way of life rather than a chore or a sport.”

Diaz doesn’t just talk the talk but he walks the walk in a real way. He enjoys the mental strength and discipline that comes from living out this lifestyle.

Ernie plans to run and finish a full Ironman at the completion of his Bachelor’s degree. This Triathlon Club might just be one of the most impressive clubs that is flying under the radar here at FIU.

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