EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
Kyle Grieser is upfront about why, after almost two decades, he still competes in off-road triathlons.
“What else am I going to do?” he said with a big laugh. “I’m not married. I don’t have any kids. You know, I have the time. I guess that’s why. Other than that, I’m not sure why I do (them).”
The 37-year-old obviously enjoys off-road triathlons, and he’s good at them. Very good. He heads to Hawaii this month to compete in the biggest event in the sport: the XTERRA World Championship, which is October 27. It’s his third time to qualify but second time to compete.
The Marble Falls resident and Oak Hill Fire Department firefighter has earned a strong reputation on the off-road triathlon circuit, even as an amateur.
Grieser regularly competes and places against professionals. This year, he won the USA Triathlon Off-Road National Championship and a string of XTERRA events. XTERRA is the biggest and most prestigious off-road triathlon circuit in the world.
Grieser started young, competing in his first traditional triathlon in 1998. In traditional triathlons, athletes run and bike on a paved road; in off-road competitions, those legs take place on trails. He entered his first off-road triathlon in 2003, an XTERRA event. It was the perfect format for the former Marble Falls High School cross-country athlete.
Though he’s not classified as a professional off-road triathlete, Grieser follows a training regime as if he were: four days of running, biking, and swimming each week.
“It’s great that I have a job that allows me to put in the time for training,” he said. The 48 hours on and 96 hours off rotation offer the flexibility he needs to train, which paid off earlier this year when he earned his place in the world championship with four strong finishes in XTERRA-sanctioned events.
Grieser placed first in his age division and second overall in XTERRA Austin in April. He finished less than 20 seconds behind the overall winner, professional triathlete Lee Andy.
In March, Grieser was the overall winner in the XTERRA Bluebonnet in Bryan.
In May, he took on a pro-heavy field of competitors at the XTERRA Oak Mountain in Pelham, Alabama. It was a new course for Grieser, who placed 18th overall and third in his age division. The pros took the top 10 spots.
After securing his place in the championship, Grieser continued his dominance, winning the XTERRA Muleshoe in Spicewood on August 10.
He looks forward to another crack at the tough Hawaiian course, this time with more knowledge and experience. He will compete against the best in the world among 75 professionals and 699 amateurs.
He finished strong in his first world championship in 2017 at 57th out of a field of 704. He was eighth in the 35-39 age group.
He qualified for the championship again in 2018 but had to skip it after spending several weeks fighting wildfires in California. His department sent him to the Golden State as part of a Texas task force. Though he was back in Texas in time to make the trip to Hawaii, he had lost crucial training time.
Winning the World Championship would definitely mark a high point in his triathlon career.
“Obviously, my goal is to finish on the podium,” Grieser said.