T.J. is the Swiss Army knife of humans. He’s been a standout soccer player, wrestler and swimmer. He’s an industrial engineer. He started his own company and has plans to own about 40 more. Realizing a sport based on three skill sets was just up his alley, he committed to triathlons in 2003, placing second in his age group at the World’s Qualifier. Since then, he has steadily improved, taking 2nd in three Ironman races. Like you’d expect from a guy who takes on challenges like other people eat potato chips, T.J. likes to race one way — all out and out front.
Be sure to select the Q&A tab above to view a Q&A with T.J. Tollakson.
Q: What distinguishes you amongst your competitors?
A: I like to race in the front, I always race as hard as I can go. I am not one to let an easy bike set up for a runner’s race which is how a lot of guys win. I want to ride as hard as I can and get off my bike and run as fast as I can.
Q: What goggles do you prefer?
A: I train in the Tracer Racing for the comfort and overall feel. I race in the Racetech; no goggle can match the suction strength of the Racetech. When you need to rely on your goggles staying on your face, Racetech is the optimal choice.
Q: What part of the race is your favorite: swim bike or run?
A: BIKE, even on a bad day I always feel in my element on a bike.
Q: How do you know you are ready to race?
A: I have a few key workout benchmarks that tell me I am fit and ready to race. When I start to rest for a big race, my body starts craving the intense work. My muscles will literally start twitching, just aching to go out there and hammer.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: Rocky (the original)
Q: What will you do after your triathlon career?
A: I will own about 40 businesses; do some consulting, real estate, product development. I have a huge passion for business and after racing I will fully immerse in the business world.
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Q: What is your favorite band?
A: Blues Traveler
Q: What is TYR to you?
A: TYR is a family. TYR is a family dedicated to the passionate pursuit of excellence and the casual spirit of the healthy lifestyle.
Q: What product do you prefer to compete in?
A: Splice Male Tank. it has a great fitted cut and allows me to stay cool and dry while racing
Q: What is your favorite TYR Swimsuit and why?
A: I train in the Male 4” trainer. This is the most indestructible suit ever, it doesn’t stretch, rip, or tear, and it takes months to even fade.
Q: Biggest influence in your life?
A: My dad is my biggest influence in my life. He has shown and taught me a strong work ethic and the importance of diversifying your skill set.
Q: Who is your biggest influence in the sport?
A: Dave Scott, THE MAN! 6x Hawaii winner
Q: Why do you do triathlons?
A: I race triathlons for personal fulfillment. I strive to see how good I can be, how far I can push myself. I enjoy the process of continuous improvement.
Q: What are 5 things we should know about you?
A: 1) I was all-state in debate (twice) while in high school
2) I am a true adrenaline junky
3) I am a board certified Engineer Intern (AKA Engineer in Training), which means that I passed my Fundamentals of Engineering exam after I graduated from college. I will someday sit for my Professional Engineering exam, but currently they only offer the exam the week after Kona. The FE exam was my first Ironman. (They call the FE exam the Ironman because Fe represents Iron in the periodic table of elements)
4) I love a good two hour nap
5) If I had one meal for the rest of my life it would be the surf and turf of a seared rare Ahi tuna and a rare center cut filet mignon