VERO BEACH — Dr. Glenn Tremml, age 51, recently returned from Beijing, China where he competed for Team USA in the Age Group Sprint Triathlon World Championships. He finished 16th in the world in this event; fifth out of the 12 Team USA members in his age group. Fellow Floridian Carlos Dolabella took the gold medal, a former professional triathlete for 10 years who has been competing for 30 years.
“I was very ecstatic to finish 16th. My goal has been to finish in the top 20 at the world championships.” This was a lofty goal since less than 2 years ago, former Medical Director of Emergency Services at Indian River Medical Center, weighed 200 pounds and could not finish a half-mile run. “My son Will, then 13, and I ran to a field near our home to play lacrosse. I had to stop to catch my breath. I decided then, I was too young to concede physical defeat to my teenage son, which will be inevitable.” He began a self-directed program of a healthy diet and exercise. “I lost 45 pounds over 6 months.” Competing in the Quail Valley Charity Cup 5K sparked an old competitive flame. He then signed up for his first triathlon in 25 years. To complete the preparation he began swimming with the Leisure Square Masters program under the tutelage of Gene Greenberg. “After my second or third practice Coach Gene pointed out the women in the lane next to me was training for her first triathlon ever; and the women I was sharing a lane with, was a two-time world triathlon champion, Lotte Branigan, a local legend.
“My wife and son were probably shocked watching my first triathlon.” A former JV swimmer for Dartmouth, Tremml came out of the water third overall; and remained in third place after the bicycle portion of the triathlon. “I finished tenth overall after the run, admittedly my weakest leg”. This was out of about 137 finishers. After 6 more months of training; and adding yoga to keep his 51-year-old body healthy, balanced and flexible, he competed in the National Championships in Tuscaloosa AL. He finished 12th in his age group despite a crash on a wet bicycle course. This qualified Tremml for a spot on Team USA and a chance to compete at the World Championships in Beijing, China with over 2000 other athletes from around the globe on the 2008 Olympic Games course. A chance of a lifetime.
“Even as a physician and former research assistant in physiology I was surprised how quickly and dramatically the body can improve with proper rest, diet, and exercise. This is a message for everyone, at any age.”
Tremml competed in the “Sprint Triathlon” event, which is comprised of a half-mile swim, followed by a 13-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run. After training for months in the heat and humidity of Vero Beach, the conditions on race day were horrible: breezy with temperatures in the low 60’s, and continuous rain. The treacherous hilly and winding road around the Ming Tomb Reservoir claimed many on the bicycle leg, who at times “littered” the curves as they slid on the wet pavement.
In the end “it was surreal”, sprinting the last lap of the run in the Olympic Triathlon Stadium. “I never felt so exhilarated as when I came down the finishing stretch. A rain-soaked, but patriotic crowd was shouting, “go USA” as I ran by.”
“The experience was amazing. The Chinese were extremely accommodating and friendly to all the competitors.” Besides the race itself, Tremml said the highlight of the trip was the Parade of Nations leading to the World Championship Opening Ceremonies. “The streets of the of Beijing lined with people cheering us on as we walked by.” Team USA won the most gold medals with 19.
Triathlons have become quite a popular sport, whether for competition or a confirmation of fitness. This year alone, there will be about 2 million people competing in a recognized triathlon event of some kind. This includes almost 11,000 men, in the US alone, in Tremml’s age group, ages of 50-54. “To finish sixteen at the World Championships, given my age, my ability, and my current fitness, is a dream come true.” “I am not the most gifted athlete in the world, or even in Vero Beach, but I am happy to be feel as strong as I do and compete at this level.”
Tremml plans to back off from his rigorous training schedule of the last 2 years, but plans to stay fit. He continues practice emergency medicine, but is now focusing more on his new role as Scoutmaster of Troop 567 here in Vero Beach. Tremml who is also a World Record Holder in Human Powered Flight already has his next adventure planned. Preparing for “Dancing with Vero’s Stars”, a charity event for the Indian River County Healthy Star Coalition.
“Some people ask me if this is a midlife crisis. I hope so. That means if I am now mid-life, I will live to 102.”