Want to start guiding blind athletes or already a guide and need some pointers to make things go smoother? Watch the webinar "Guiding 101: How to guides a visually impaired athlete through a triathlon." and learn what I have found to be the most important things to know when guiding.
Matt West has been guiding Aaron since August 2002. Matt and Aaron first met at the 2002 Waterloo (Michigan) triathlon where the race director (Jim Donaldson) announced that Aaron was competing in the field and to use caution because he was legally blind. In that race Aaron would finish in front of Matt, but that result sparked a long term friendship. Aaron and Matt have traveled the world to places such as New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland and several states throughout the United States competing in high profile races. Matt attempts to guide Aaron in as many races as his schedule and budget will allow.
Matt is an Eastern Michigan Graduate earning a Bachelor and Masters Degree in Communication. Matt is employed at Thomson Reuters where he's spent the last 10 years consulting on Tax & Accounting Software & Services. Athletically, Matt's background is running and has competed in both College and High school in Varsity Track and Cross Country. Matt is married to Kimberly Ann (wedding date 8/19/00). An interesting note about Matt is he loves anything related to aviation. He earned his pilot's license on 5/23/08.
Matt has been racing triathlon since the age of 22. He was not an athlete growing up, in fact was always an overweight and sedentary child. At the age of 21 Matt got up to 240 lbs, and was grossly out of shape. In 1998 he went and watched his brother Chris race at Ironman Hawaii, and decided that he too wanted an active lifestyle for himself. He decided then to try for another time to change his lifestyle and loose some weight. In the next 6 months Matt lost 75 lbs, and eventually started training for triathlons. He did his first triathlon less than a year later at Wildflower, and placed in his age group, and never looked back.
Matt quickly moved through the age group ranks, placing as high as 4th at Nationals and represented the United States at the World Championships in Cancun Mexico. After several years racing he decided that he wanted to be pushed a little more, and decided to start racing in the professional division. In his first year as a pro he finished top ten in his 1st Ironman, and raced at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. In 3 years racing as a Pro Matt has won 5 triathlons placed top 10 in 5 Ironman North America races, and currently holds a bike course record in an Ironman 70.3, and has competed in the World Championships at both Ironman distances. Matt has also starting racing bicycles and has won a pro road race and has completed National Racing Series professional stage races, and is working towards becoming a professional cyclist as well as triathlete.
In the past 3 years since racing pro Matt has been trying to find the right balance of work, training, and life. He moved himself to Bend Or. to be in an environment that was more conducive of the active lifestyle, and has found himself a very supportive community there. Since this move Matt has learned how to balance triathlon and the rest of his life, and is ready to push forward with some breakthrough races. With all of the great terrain around Bend Matt has been able to improve his running, while developing the confidence to be one of the dominating cyclists in the sport.
Matt’s goal in triathlon is to race to the best of his potential, whatever that is. In doing this he believes he can show others that they can do anything that they put their mind to. If he can convince one person to give up the couch for a bike or whatever it is that gives them a taste of what life really can bring, it is all worth it. Keeping this in mind Matt knows that the peak years for racing are still a couple years off for him, and believes he can be one of the best triathletes in the world. But foremost for him is to achieve these goals while racing with integrity and smiling every step of the way. ☺
To view more about Matt Lieto click here
Joe was born in the UK and migrated to Australia with his family when he was 3 years old, coming to Launceston in Tasmania. Joe was always a keen sports enthusiast and seemed to have a talent for many sports from an early age. Running was his first passion and he soon gave away the ball sports for fear of being kicked in his precious legs! As a teenager, Joe took up cycling and swimming and triathlon seemed a natural choice. Joe then competed in four consecutive National All Schools events with improved results each year.
As a 16 year old, Joe received a 'wildcard' and entered his first professional race at the Devonport triathlon competing against many of the world's best at the time. Joe then competed for 2 seasons as an age grouper and won all the races that he entered. This success culminated in the 2000 World Championships when Joe won a silver medal in the 16-19 year old category. These results led to Joe being named the Australian Junior Triathlete of the year.
From 2001-2004, studying for his Bachelor of Commerce degree limited Joe's traveling ability but he competed within Australia throughout these years. During this time, he raced the Australian elite Accenture series. Racing at this high level provided invaluable experience and shaped Joe into the athlete he is today.
Since 2004, Joe has travelled to the US and Europe, racing and working. Last year, he lived in the UK and Denmark as well as fitting in some racing in the US. Joe loves the hectic lifestyle of the triathlon world, the traveling and the camaraderie. He has made some great friends and no doubt will make many more. Joe is in the sport for the long haul and is looking forward to his best season yet.
Luke was born and raised in NSW on the Mid North coastal town of Taree. From an early age he pursued sporting interests with a passion. Starting with Soccer and progressing to Rugby League, Cricket, Tennis, Golf, Little Athletics, Basketball, Running, Swimming and Water Polo. Luke became a State level swimmer at Primary school and then represented NSW in Under 14 Water Polo.
His interest in Triathlon was fired in the early 90's when he was taken to Forster by his parents to help man an aid station at the Australian Ironman.
In 1995, he entered his first Triathlon at Trial Bay, NSW and won. From this point he was "hooked". In 1996 the family moved to Queensland's Gold Coast- a mecca for Triathlon training and racing. Luke was in his element, training and racing, honing new skills and challenging himself against older, seasoned competitors whenever he could. He supplemented Triathlon with Cross Country and Track running and held numerous Queensland school titles and the 16 yrs Queensland Steeplechase record over 2000m.
Luke was selected in the Australian Duathlon team at 16 yrs old to compete in the World Championships at St Wendell, Germany. As the Under 20's youngest competitor he finished 7th. In 1998 he became the youngest competitor in the St. George triathlon series, learning some valuable lessons in the Grand Prix style of racing. Subsequently Luke was selected in three Australian Junior teams for the World Championships. His best result was at Edmonton in 2001 where he finished third. He suffered the disappointment of a flat tyre at Perth 2000 and finished 9th U23 at Queenstown in 2003.
In 2001 Luke competed in the inaugural Sydney Youth Olympics and won by a considerable margin. This result helped to secure him a place in the Australian Institute of Sport Triathlon squad and provided Luke with valuable support , training and learning experiences through AIS camps in Australia and in France. It was from here that Luke launched his international triathlon career chalking up some very creditable performances in Europe.
Luke became fascinated by the US triathlon scene through his friendship with Peter Coulson and Michellie Jones and in 2003 set off to pursue the American circuit where athletes specialize in the non-drafting format. Showing a preference for longer distances, he managed three first placings in his first year. In 2004 he returned to the US again, recording two first placings, a second and some minor placings.Through racing half-ironman races Luke experienced the thrill of going head to head with some of the major world players in the longer distance events.This experience coupled with his youthful memories of the Forster Ironman lured him towards Ironman. He began training in earnest for his debut over this distance in the WA Ironman,Bussleton. Luke finished 3rd in his first outing in a brisk time of 8.34, tired, totally spent but wildly elated as he passed down the finish chute.
In 2006 Luke realized his dream of competing in the Ironman World Championships in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Although Luke suffered a stress fracture in his knee after a bike crash in training just a few weeks before the event, he decided to compete anyway. Limping to the finish he achieved a major life goal. Luke continues on his quest to one day win the Hawaii Ironman.
To view more about Luke Mckenzie click here
Matt spent several years traveling the world and competing as an elite amateur triathlete. During his sojourn he realized there was more to life and humanity than what people saw on the outside, and became determined to change society's outward-judging preconceptions.
This became Matt's mission when he met blind, would-be triathlete Heidi Musser, who, through her pluck and courage, further opened Matt's eyes to the difference between positive thinking and living proactively.
Inspired by the bond they developed as guide and athlete, and the reactions he witnessed from those on the periphery, Matt set out to prove that he could shift society's deep-rooted prejudice of the visually impaired, one athlete at a time.
Driven to bring Heidi's inspiring story to the screen and that of other blind triathletes, to help these brave champions achieve their farthest-reaching goals and dreams, “C-Different” and “Victory Over Darkness” were born.
In September of 2007 Ben Collins began his career as a professional triathlete. His rookie year will follow a well publicized amateur record, including two national titles and an Amateur World Title.
Ben began racing triathlons as a hobby in 2006 while working in Honolulu for a small engineering firm where he designed autonomous underwater vehicles. It was there that he met his coach, Dr. Michael McMahon, who had previously coached an Olympic champion and other elite athletes. The direction of a knowledgeable coach turned triathlon from a local hobby to an international career for Ben. In just over a year Ben has been named All-American, and Best Amateur Triathlete under 30 by USAT and Inside Triathlon Magazine, respectively. In 2006 Collins finished second at Nationals, and a crash at the World Championships took him out of the competition after he established more than a two minute lead over the rest of the field. Ben was treated for a dislocated clavicle and a broken wrist, and sentenced to eight weeks of recovery.
Ben remained an amateur in 2007 in order to gain more experience while attempting to take the overall win at both Nationals and Worlds. He also left sunny Honolulu for his hometown, Seattle, where he could attend University of Washington in preparation for a graduate program in medicine. The former Ivy- League Champion swimmer, who was twice named Academic All-Ivy, proved he was still a scholar-athlete. Before winning both the 2007 National and 2007 World Championships, Collins finished the school year with a 3.92 GPA in his premed coursework.
To view more about Ben Collins click here
Former MSU Triathlon club president and one of the original Tri-Club founding members with Aaron. Race background includes multiple collegiate national championship appearances, multiply half Ironmans appearances, completed four Ironmans: Lake Place, Wisconsin, Florida, Coer D'Lene. First ever Xterra guided race w/ Aaron.
BS in Microbiology w/ Master's in Food Safety. Director of Food Safety at Mastronardi Produce (marketer and grower of fresh fruits and vegetables). Enjoys outdoor activities including sailing, backpacking, camping, surfing, adventure races, and of course swimming, biking, and running.
Todd has been in competitive sports both as an athlete and a coach for close to 25 years.
Todd's athletic background started when he was 11 with age-group swimming. He started competitive running when he was 13. Todd ran at the division II level in collegiate track and cross country for Kutztown University where he was a two time All-American. He still holds school records for the 5000 (14:28), and the 10000 (30:13). After completing college in '94 he began his triathlon career. While in '98 winning the Duathlon World championships and placing 3rd over-all in the Triathlon Worlds champs, he was named triathlete of the year by USA Triathlon. He has been a professional triathlete ever since. Todd has completed 10 Ironman events including 3 at the World Championships in Hawaii with a PR of 9:10. He has completed 10 marathons with a PR of 2:37. He is currently competing as an elite level age group athlete with as many races as he can fit into his schedule. Todd has also been a guide for elite blind triathlete Aaron Scheidies.
Todd has coached athletes at every level from age-group swimming to collegiate running and triathletes of all abilities. His coaching started when he was 18 at the age-group swimming level. Todd went on to coach both at the collegiate and high school levels coaching track and cross country. He is a certified Team In Training triathlon coach where he is currently the head triathlon coach for the Eastern PA chapter. He has his own coaching business, coaching athletes on a one to one basis. He is also a Regional Athlete Development Coordinator and Level 1 certified coach for USA Triathlon. While being the coach for TNT he has coached over 900 athletes to successfully complete events from the sprint distance to the half-ironman distance with a 100% finish ratio.
Born in Mobile, AL but moved to Raleigh, NC at an early age. Grew up playing sports like Soccer, Baseball, Swimming, and Basketball. Moved to Flower Mound, TX during middle school and stayed there until I graduated high school. While I was there I continued playing soccer and swam for a couple of years. Joined the Coast Guard in 2002. Went to school to become a Helicopter Rescue Swimmer in the summer of 05.
Did my first triathlon while I was going through school and was hooked. My first full season I qualified for the inaugural 70.3 World Championships and finished 10th in my age group. Since then I've been concentrating more on the shorter distances. I'm in my 6th season of triathlon now and currently living in Houston, TX still working as a Helicopter Rescue Swimmer.