The day started at 4 a.m., swimming miles through the brutally cold waters of Resurrection Bay. The day ended nearly 12 hours later, running up and down Mount Alyeska twice. In this first-ever Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon, 32-year old Andrew Fast claimed the championship.
The Woodinville native finished the 142-mile swim, ride and climb event with a time of 11 hours, 18 minutes and 29 seconds. He was nearly 20 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, Danny Dvinov of Oakland, California. Anchorage’s Daniel Folmer was third.
“Once we got to the finish line, it was time to share the moment with some close friends,” Fast said. He added that he dedicated the win to Amy Downing, an Anchorage woman who died in an avalanche in British Columbia in January, and who was the girlfriend of support crew member Oliver Evans.
“Any discomfort I went through paled in comparison to what they had gone through,” Fast said.
Fast currently calls Salt Lake City, Utah his home. But his roots reside in Woodinville. He attended Leota Middle School and Woodinville High School. He became familiar with every nook and cranny of then- undeveloped Hollywood Hill.
“I spent a lot of my free time exploring the hill, either on foot or on bicycle,” he said.
Fast played soccer for years. But by his late teens, his love for endurance sports took hold. He’d go up to Stevens Pass after the lifts closed for the season. It was there he’d run and scamper up the hill known as Big Chief.
“I was focused on my breathing and on what was right in front of me,” Fast said. “Controlling my body temperature, not going too hard, not going too easy. That’s when it clicked. It didn’t require any equip-ment, it was very simple, All it required was tuning into my senses and finding that flow and rhythm.”
By age 18, Fast climbed Mount Rainier. By age 21, he’d become an Alpine climber.
But after schooling for several years in California, he transferred to Seattle University. This is when he stumbled into the triathlon community. Early one fateful morning, he got up and went down to the local rec center.
“There was a group of people in their 50s and 60s, and they were joking around and yukking it up,” Fast said. “They were giving each other a hard time. I interjected myself into their conversation. It turned out they were a legendary group of triathletes. I was like a puppy dog, following them around. I didn’t care how old they were. They were so psyched. They were so happy and full of life. I learned the triathlon lifestyle through a bunch of old dudes who had been crushing it since they were my age. They began referring to themselves as my senior mentors.”
One race led to the next, up until last month, when Fast headed north to compete in the inaugural Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon. When he got to the final portion of the race—running up and down Mount Alyeska twice, he felt himself in prime position. “I knew that once I got to the mountains it would be tough to catch me,” he said. “The second place competitor was three minutes behind me. That was close, he was right behind me. But I love running uphill. I really enjoy being in the mountains, just like those days back at Big Chief.”
With this huge win under his belt, Fast is flying this week to France. He’ll compete in an extreme triathlon in the French Alps. “It’s off the radar and nobody from the US has gone and done it,” he said.
“It has all those awesome components that I like. Going into a place I’m not comfortable and going to terrain that I’m not familiar with in the Alps. I’m looking forward to it.”