Triathlon Mag­a­zine Canada Age-Group Triath­lete of the Year

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - SPRINT/OLYMPIC - —HE­LEN POW­ERS

Hans Porten didn’t train at all for his first triathlon back in 2003, but now his col­leagues con­sider the 63-year-old a prime ex­am­ple of proper race prepa­ra­tion. In the 16 years be­tween, he has stood on podi­ums around the world and coached a new gen­er­a­tion of rac­ers in south­ern On­tario.

His ac­tive youth may ex­plain why train­ing wasn’t nec­es­sary for that first tri. Grow­ing up in Ger­many, sport was sec­ondary to work, but he reg­u­larly swam, biked and ran. When Porten was about 18 years old, he be­came a life­guard and his team won the world cham­pi­onship in res­cue swim­ming com­pe­ti­tions.

He would run a few times a week through the forests as an out­let for the frus­tra­tions of life and cy­cling was his usual trans­porta­tion.

When Porten moved to Canada 21 years ago, he and his wife set­tled in Bramp­ton, Ont. He cy­cled to work at an elec­tri­cal train­ing fa­cil­ity for the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try. The head of the com­pany, in a well-mean­ing way, once told him, “Hans, you’re no­body in nowhere. Make sure you be­come some­body, some­where.” And Porten took that ad­vice to heart.

“This out­look fed my ath­letic and work­ing goals be­cause I de­cided that was the way to be­come some­one,” he says. At a lo­cal swim­ming pool, Bar­rie She­p­ley of the Cana­dian Cross Train­ing Club (C3) told Porten he looked like a triath­lete and asked if he wanted to train. Porten de­cided he did and raced his first triathlon, a Kids of Steel event, in 2003.

“My first triathlon was funny,” he re­calls. “I was prob­a­bly smil­ing the whole time. The lit­tle kids went first and it was fun to see them rac­ing.”

He also re­calls that the at­mos­phere of the event was good.

“Tri is a whole dif­fer­ent game,” he says. “Peo­ple who do that, it is hard to de­scribe – there’s a so­ci­ety. I meet all kinds of peo­ple from all over the world. I have got­ten to know a great com­mu­nity and the sea­soned rac­ers have their own friend­ships.”

Porten counts him­self among those sea­soned rac­ers. Now in the 60-to-65 age group, he does five or six races in a year and es­ti­mates he has com­peted in 75 to 80 races since 2003.

In 2011, Porten went to Iron­man Aus­tria and placed first in his age group. That qual­i­fied him for Kona the same year, where he placed 14th in the 50-to-59 cat­e­gory.

“From a racer’s point of view, Kona was in­tense. You can feel the ten­sion in the days lead­ing up to the race. Kona is a learning curve all its own.” Five years later, he re­turned and placed 21st in the 60 to 64 age group.

Among his most mem­o­rable races, Porten counts be­ing in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land twice and land­ing on the podium each time. In 2006, he fin­ished third at the ITU Triathlon World Cham­pi­onship. In 2019, he placed sec­ond at the ITU Triathlon World Grand Fi­nal in the 60 to 64 age group.

“I just loved it,” Porten says of the most re­cent podium fin­ish. “It was al­most a copy of my race there in 2006. I was early out of the wa­ter, then peo­ple did not catch me on the bike as in 2006. But it was way bet­ter in 2019, I was faster and I kept the lead. Run­ning is my strong point and both times I was run­ning peo­ple down.”

At his first triathlon, if some­one had said “You’ll take sil­ver at the ITU World Cham­pi­onship in 2019,” Porten says he wouldn’t have be­lieved them.

“At first, I thought, this is fun. It’s go­ing to be a nice hobby. Then the hobby al­most be­came a pro­fes­sion,” he ex­plains.

Porten’s other pas­sion is coaching. He was one of the first peo­ple in On­tario to get his NCCP coach cer­tifi­cate and at the Tor­nado Triathlon Club in Mil­ton, he’s known as a leg­end. “Coach Hans pro­vides valu­able in­sight and triathlon ex­pe­ri­ence in swim, bike and run to our club and its ath­letes,” says fel­low coach Carolyn Kubas. “He is a phe­nom­e­nal ex­am­ple of hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion. He is in tune with the needs of our youth/ju­nior and age group ath­letes and we are thank­ful to have Hans with us.”

“I like to work with young peo­ple,” says Porten. “Triathlon gets them on the right track. Later on in life, they know what it means to be com­mit­ted to do some­thing.”

Like his old boss, Porten guides oth­ers with words of wis­dom such as “Make your­self a rep­u­ta­tion. Make sure peo­ple know you,” and this gem, “The more mis­takes you do, the more peo­ple will know you.”

Porten would like to win gold in 2020 at the ITU World Cham­pi­onship in Ed­mon­ton and fur­ther down the road, he might re­turn to Kona for the 65 to 69 age group.

“If that works out, it will be good,” he says. “But if it doesn’t, I’ll work out some­thing else in­stead.”

Be Some­body, Some­where

ABOVE Hans Porten races at the ITU Grand Fi­nal, Lau­sanne 2019

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