Long-time triathlete set for for Show-Me State Games

Friday, July 23, 2010 | 5:00 a.m. CDT
David Mountjoy, the director of clinic operations for University Hospital, trains on Friday, July 9, 2010, for the running portion of the Show-Me State Games triathlon, held on July 25. The triathlon consists of a half-mile swim followed by a 19-mile bike ride and a 5K run.

COLUMBIA — After a 45-minute run covering about six miles, 55-year-old David Mountjoy walks casually back to his office. He doesn’t have much time to relax. He has to get cleaned up and back to work. His lunch break is almost over.

This is not out of the ordinary for Mountjoy, who has raced in about 120 triathlons since 1983. Depending on how soon it is until his next race, a typical week consists of swimming 3,000 to 4,000 yards, biking 60 to 120 miles and running 20 to 35 miles. With a job and family, Mountjoy has to make use of any spare time.

Show-Me State Games final weekend

The 2010 Show-Me State Games, an Olympic-style sports festival that offers competition in more than 40 sports, concludes with events today, Saturday and Sunday.

Events scheduled to take place this weekend include adult football at Cosmopolitan Park, gymnastics at Hearnes Center, mountain biking at Rock Bridge State Park and Sunday's triathlon at the Twin Lakes Recreation Area.

Most events keep registration open until just before competition begins. For details go to

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“Working it (training) in to family life, work life, it can be done,” he said. “It just means less TV, less sleep, but you’ve really got to enjoy doing it.”

About twice a week, Mountjoy meets his friend, Kris Hagglund, at about 5:30 a.m., and they ride their bikes. One of their favorite routes goes from Forum Boulevard to McBaine and back, a ride over 20 miles long that takes about an hour and 20 minutes. Mountjoy then gets cleaned up and is off to University Hospital, where he is the director for clinic operations for MU Health Care.

Hagglund, 47, does a fair amount of running and biking but doesn’t compete in triathlons as much as Mountjoy. His reason for working out is simple.

“It’s a matter of my overall desire to stay healthy and fit,” Hagglund said. “But I’ll train harder if I’m preparing for a race.”

Mountjoy and Hagglund train early in the morning, so it doesn’t interfere too much with the rest of their lives.

“We meet at 5:30 and are done by 7 or so,” Hagglund said. “We have plenty of time to shower and get to work, so it doesn’t interfere much.”

On days he doesn’t run during his lunch break, Mountjoy might head over to Wilson’s Fitness Center to swim. On weekends that he isn’t racing, he catches up on a lot of swimming and running.

Mountjoy has been preparing for Sunday's Show-Me State Games triathlon, which consists of a half-mile swim, 19-mile bike ride and a 5K run. As far as triathlons go, it’s relatively short.

“It’s really a good race for first-timers who want to do a little shorter race,” Mountjoy said.

Hagglund has competed in the Show-Me State Games triathlon in the past but has decided not to race this year. The decision to race was easy for Mountjoy. He’s always loved to compete.

Mountjoy, born and raised in Columbia, became interested in athletics at a young age.

“I was always athletic in junior high and high school,” he said, “but I mostly just ran for fitness.”

Around 1979, however, Mountjoy started training to run in marathons. He ran marathons for about three years before developing iliotibial band syndrome a common injury in runners that results in irritation to tissue near the knee.

“The doctor said I needed to not run so much,” Mountjoy said. “He said ‘why don’t you mix it up a little bit with some biking or low-impact stuff like swimming.’”

Mountjoy took the doctor’s advice and started to do some biking in addition to light running. In 1983, he heard about a triathlon.

“(Triathlons) were very new, and no one really knew what they were,” he said. “But I thought ‘Well that’s kind of interesting. It’s three different sports.’”

Mountjoy’s first triathlon consisted of running for 11.5 miles, canoeing for 25 miles and biking for 63 miles. He had so much fun, he decided to race in a traditional swimming, biking and running triathlon. He’s been racing ever since.

Mountjoy usually takes at least two weeks off between races and competes about four or five times a year.

“It’s really hard to race every weekend,” he said. “Some people do it, but I’ve got a job and a home and a wife and other things that I need to do.”

“David is very dedicated to his family,” Hagglund said.

When Mountjoy first started triathlons, he was married but did not have children, so he had much more time to train. When their first son, Steven, was born, things began to change. His family came first, and finding time to train became harder.

“That’s one of the challenges of being a triathlete,” Mountjoy said. “You have to be able to prioritize what’s important between your work, your family, your home and triathlon. Triathlon training needs to fit in there somewhere, but it can’t be your number one thing or you’re going to have trouble.”

Steven is now 25 and lives in Arizona. Mountjoy’s other son, Mark, is 20 and attends MU. Everyone in the family has always been physically active. This makes it easier for Mountjoy to train because his family is supportive and understanding.

Mountjoy acknowledges that he is passed his prime when it comes to triathlon racing and jokes about how long he’s been doing them. He said wearing a helmet while biking was optional when he first started. Nowadays, if competitors are seen on a bike without a helmet, they are automatically disqualified.

As Mountjoy gets older, his workouts are changing.

“When I was younger, I think I was a lot more competitive, so my training was much more intense,” he said. “I also had much more planning in my training. Today, I just put on my shoes and go.”

The races he runs are not as intense as they used to be either.

“It’s fun to go out there and run a good race and still feel good, not feel like your just exhausted or in pain,” he said. “I cross the line and head over to the beer stand and have a good time. That’s kind of what it’s all about for me right now.”

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