Ready for the Big Leagues
Betsy Hochman ’17 joins the U.S. national off-road triathlon team
While some Brandeis students will be spending their summer months working jobs and internships or enjoying sunny vacations, Betsy Hochman ’17 will be training to compete against triathletes from around the world.
A relative newcomer to triathlons, Hochman has quickly risen in the national ranks in her age group. In September, Hochman will join the U.S. national off-road triathlon team to run, bike and swim across the coastline of Italy.
In March, the U.S.A. Triathlon Association invited Hochman to compete with the U.S. team in the 2015 International Triathlon Union Off-Road Triathlon World Championships. Hochman qualified for the national team based on her finishing times in qualifying triathlon races in the past year. She ranked among the top-18 competitors in her age group and qualified for the national team. She will compete alongside athletes from all age groups selected from triathlon competitions across the country.
“I’ve always dreamed in some ways of being able to race internationally, but I didn’t think it was something I would end up doing,” Hochman said in an interview with the Justice.
Hochman will be competing in an Olympic distance off-road triathlon with the U.S. team. According to the U.S.A. Triathlon Association’s website, the race is composed of 1.5 kilometers of swimming in the ocean, 30 kilometers of off-road biking and 10 kilometers of running.
Each age group accepts between 18 and 20 athletes. The competition will take place in Sardinia, Italy on Sept 27.
“I’ll have to miss a few days of school, but I think it’s worth it,” Hochman said with a laugh.
Hochman is no stranger to competitive outdoor sports. She began mountain biking with her family when she was 10 years old and has been a competitive trail runner for several years.
A Pennsylvania native, Hochman enjoys running through the woods of the Poconos Mountains, she said. Before becoming a triathlete, Hochman competed in everything from 5k trail races to half-marathons. Hochman began competing in triathlons last summer and has completed just two triathlons prior to joining the U.S. team.
“For a long time, I’ve tried a lot of out-there sports just trying to find a sport that I fit in with well, which I kind of found in the off-road triathlons,” Hochman said.
In order to balance her schoolwork and preparation for international competition, Hochman adheres to a training schedule while at Brandeis. She runs three times a week, swims twice a week, works out at the gym once a week and allows herself a day to rest. “At home it’s a lot looser, because running and biking are just things I enjoy,” Hochman explained. “This summer I really want to make sure I’m prepared to do it and I’m ready to race at a good level.”
Although most of her preparation for the World Championships has been individual, Hochman will meet and train with the team a week before the competition begins. She will stay in a hotel on a floor reserved for the team, where she will get to socialize with fellow triathletes. Hochman expects to see some familiar faces.
“For the most part, you get to meet people in those races anyway, because it’s kind of a small community, so I may know some of them already,” Hochman said.
Hochman said that she is most looking forward to racing with athletes from across the globe. She explained that one of her favorite aspects of the sport is the people she meets at competitions.
“The community—the people—are really, really cool. They’re very welcoming, and it’s cool, because it’s a mix of people who really enjoy the outdoors,” Hochman said.
To athletes considering competing in a triathlon for the first time, Hochman advises to set aside any inhibitions about not measuring up to the competition.
“I think more than anything you have to believe that you can do it ... For a long time, I had heard about these races, and I was worried about trying it because I was worried I would hold people up or be the last one in the water. And it’s really fine either way—people are just happy that you’re out there.”
For those looking for a way to combine exercise and being outdoors, Hochman hopes to provide an outlet. “A few of us are thinking about starting a running club here.” Hochman said. She explains that the club would combine a variety of different running styles and locations so that others may explore outdoor sports.
In addition to training for the off-road triathlon, Hochman also serves on the executive board of Students for Environmental Action. An Environmental Studies major, Hochman traces both her interest in the environment and in adventure sports to her love of the outdoors.
“I think part of it is that it’s always been a big part of who I am,” Hochman explained, “And I feel like, no matter what is going on, whether it be school stress or anything, just being outside is awesome, and I’d like to keep that there for future generations.”