Friday, July 13, 2012

Interview with Ryan Sutter– “Quitting Is Never An Option.”

You may know him as “that guy from the Bachelorette,” but this 37-year-old dad of two wears a few more hats: father, husband, lieutenant in the Vail Fire Department, former pro football player and endurance athlete. He’s also slightly easy on the eyes and has two twins I call his biceps.

Ryan running at Ironman Lake Placid

Ironman Lake Placid – 2010
Finish Time: 11:06:37

This endurance junkie is always looking for the next challenge. He’s found satisfaction in combining his passion for digging deep and pushing himself to the limit, with raising money for a charity close to his heart – First Descents (a free outdoor program for young adult cancer fighters and survivors).



When I heard about Ryan’s newest brush with insanity – doing the 100 Mile Leadville Mountain Bike Race  (August 11 ) and three days later running the 6-day GoreTex TransRockies Run (120 miles) – I wanted to see just what makes this guy tick. We spoke by phone yesterday.

You are crazy. Why two back-to-back brutal races? Over a period of nine days you will cover 220 miles and climb a total of 36,000 feet.

I’m driven by watching young adults with cancer overcome so many adversities. I enjoy the aspect of challenging myself physically. You reach a point where the physical body wants to stop, so you've got to have a mental strategy. This builds a strength that can be applied to other parts of life. For me, it’s about personal growth and I guess this is one of the selfish reasons I do these races.  (Sutter is doing both of these events to benefit First Descents and his friend, Ethan Zohn’s charity  Grassroot Soccer).

You talk about your physical body wanting to quit, but your mind working to keep you in the game. What are your strategies for digging deep when you want to quit?

I start to think about how fortunate I am to be out there. I don’t want to squander any opportunities. I know there are people who are unable do things (due to illness, etc.). I recognize the pain, but quitting is never an option. It doesn't even enter the equation. My biggest challenge has just been getting older. I know when I get to the finish line, then I can rest.

How did you train for these two races simultaneously?

I’ve done the Leadville 100 three times before and it takes me about 8 ½ hours. I do most of my cardio training in on the bike. I am not a great distance runner. Getting older, I only have so much left in my legs, so most of my running training focused on hills and climbing. My partner for the TransRockies will be a friend from the fire department. We’re not planning on having a blistering pace, just pacing ourselves well and keeping it manageable.

How do you fuel while training?

When I first started doing endurance races, I had no regard for nutrition. Now I know it affects performance. It’s hard for me to eat solid foods while I run, so I use gels a lot. After a work out, I drink a Gatorade recovery shake and have a good meal. Plus lots of rest (he also likes ice baths and compression stuff – see HERE).

You’ve got two young children, a marriage and a demanding job. How do you balance training with your other commitments?

The key is prioritizing. There is a fine line you can’t cross when it comes to family. First, I ask my wife. I want to make sure that Trista is okay with whatever goals I have. Sometimes you have to compromise your goals. At one point I wanted to see if I could train to run a sub 3 hour marathon (his PR is 3:18). But when I looked into what this would take, I decided it wasn’t that important. One of the cool things about training and racing is seeing my kids take interest in what I’m doing. Trista is really supportive and the family comes to most of my races. They enjoy being at the finish line!



You’ve done two Ironmans  – Kona (2004) and Lake Placid (2010). You’ve also done the NYC Marathon twice and the Boston Marathon once. Which is tougher, marathon or Ironman?

My first marathon (NYC) and my first 100 mile Leadville mountain bike race were both pure pain by the end. In this sense these races were tougher than an Ironman. But, the Ironman is harder mentally, just being out there for 11 hours.

Boston Marathon 2012
Finish time: 3:36

What’s next?

I’d love to do the Leadville Race Series  (which would include the 100 mile ultra marathon plus much, much more). I think I’ll see how these other races go first, though. It’s definitely on my radar.

Do people still call you “the guy from The Bachelorette”?

Yes, especially when we visit the mid-west people recognize us. When I was on the show, I was told I’d be recognized for three to six months. But it’s ten years later and still happening!


Would you do another reality show?

Sure, I’m open minded about that as long as it doesn’t compromise family time. I love the opportunity to meet new people. You only live once!



  1. Wow? It's been 10 years already? Nice interview! He is pretty hot though!

  2. 10 years since the Bachelorette? That'd make many years old. The math doesn't add up since I've clearly only had 5 birthdays since then so that can't be right. ;)

  3. First Descents is a wonderful organization and provides a great opportunity for young adults with cancer. It's great that Ryan is supporting it. And I agree, he's very easy on the eyes..too bad you didn't get a f2f with him. :)

  4. YOLO! What an amazing interview!

  5. 10 yrs! Wow!

    Best bachlorette/bachelor couple ever!

  6. Oh GAWD that says it all, "It's been 10 years." HOLY Show, I remember watching them in my apartment at Yale- and now it's been 10 years. Poof.

  7. You got to talk to RYAN!!! That is beyond cool!!! I remember watching them too and thinking that they made the perfect that they have lasted and are the real deal. He seems like quite the endurance junkie, too! Great interview.

  8. Every time I read something about this couple it makes me smile. Good people. And, HOT!

  9. I got your title, and I was so eager to comment the rest of the post was blahblahblah. Then before I started writing, I went back and scrolled a little more slowly. Sorry Beth, blah. Bachelorette, blah. Biceps, blah. It's a guy thing and I don't begrudge your fun. One blah post out of a zillion is pretty darn good.

    Quitting a race is always an option. Sometimes it's a necessity and that usually makes itself pretty clear. But the optional quit is normally much further along than most people think. The problem with the "never quit" mindset is that our minds can drive our bodies further than we believe. Sometimes that ends well, with that coveted race finish and no side effects. Sometimes it ends up being an acceptable tradeoff with the person getting some race result at the cost of minor medical attention needed. And then there are the hard core ones who keep going regardless. Sometimes we see them being taken away in an ambulance or helicopter, or they've done real long term damage to themselves. Life is more complicated than a simple rule.

    1. What a party pooper you are tonight!

      Yes, of course there are exceptions. I don't think anyone would argue that.I think he was just making a point about hanging in there when the going gets tough. But not at the cost of being taken away by helicopter.

  10. I ran next to him in a relay race here in Colorado about 8 years ago. He was by my side for about 1/2 a second then GONE. He is amazing!

  11. Cool interview! I think he and Ethan Zohn are both very inspirational.

  12. Love that organization ... have read up on it. Thanks for sharing the interview and your phone call with Ryan so we could learn more about it!

  13. I "met" them at Legoland last year and they were the nicest people. and yes you are right he is quite handsome! I may have watched all seasons of the Bachelor-Bacherolette...maybe....and that season is still my favorite and I am glad they "made" it!

  14. Awwww man!! Beth you are so mature deleting Anonymous! Love the write up about Ryan- great athlete! And so good to read about this side of him!

  15. Swoon!!! Ryan was my all time favorite!!! Live that he is an endurance athlete!!! Swoon!!

  16. I have no clue who this guy is so maybe that's why I really found no inspiration in the interview. If you get a chance to interview folks overcoming adversity I'd be really interested in those.

  17. Oh geez, I turned into a complete dork when he gave me my medal at the Divas half in Vail last year! He was so cute and humble, just a nice guy. I am not sure how you maintained your composure through all of the interviews Beth!

  18. I had no idea he was an endurance athlete! Great interview!

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