Next month, the inaugural Couples Championship race will crown the “fastest couple” in triathlon, with pro pairs like Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell, Paula Findlay and Eric Lagerstrom, and Taylor Spivey and Vincent Luis battling for a $100,000 prize purse. While time and technology have made today’s triathletes better than ever, some pairs of the past could likely given current stars a run for their money. Here’s a trio of talented tri couples whose performances have stood the test of time.
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The couple: Scott Molina and Erin Baker
With three Ironman world championships between them (Kiwi Baker picking up her titles in 1987 and 1990, and American Molina winning in 1988), this couple collected podiums around the world like stamps on their passports throughout the late ’80s, ultimately earning more than 100 professional wins each. Although notoriously icy on the race course (especially with her rival Paula Newby-Fraser), Baker melted for Molina after meeting him at a triathlon in Provo, Utah in 1998. Both coming off of long-term relationships, Molina asked Baker what it was like to be single. “She said, ‘I hate it,’” he told Sports Illustrated. He asked her for breakfast, aBrian Bahr/nd After six weeks of dating, Baker moved in with Molina at his home in Colorado and became partners in life as well as in training, each benefitting from one another’s strengths. (“I’ve never run with a woman who can go that hard, that fast, that long,” Molina recalled.) They married in February 1990, with their prolific careers winding down a few years later. “Scott taught me how to enjoy the sport,” Baker recalled, admitting she was ready to give up on triathlon when she met Molina. “I started to get some real enjoyment out of it again.”
Where are they now? Married 32 years, Erin, now 60, and Molina, 61, have two children and live in New Zealand. They were both inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame in 2018 and remain active and involved in the sport, with Baker recently serving as a team captain for the International team for the 2021 Collins Cup.
The early 2000s
The Couple: Greg and Laura Bennett
Throughout the early aughts, you’d be hard pressed to find a more successful pair in short-course triathlon than Greg and Laura Bennett (featured in the photo above). With more than 30 World Cup podiums, four Olympic berths, and countless wins between them, the talented twosome were both named Triathlete’s Triathletes of the Year in 2007. After meeting in 2000—Greg, born in Australia, was prepping for the Sydney Olympics alongside Simon Whitfield in Canada when Laura (née Reback), a native Floridian, joined the training squad—they married in November of 2004. Team Bennett’s best years as triathletes came after that; most notably Laura’s fourth-place finish at the 2008 Olympics and a fifth at the 2009 Ironman 70.3 World Champs and Greg’s win at the 2011 Hy-Vee 5150 US Champs At the age of 40, where he picked up $151,500 in prize money.
Where are they now? While Greg, 50, and Laura, 46, haven’t raced since around 2014, they have kept close ties to the triathlon community. Greg hosts a popular podcast, The Greg Bennett Show, which Laura—who will be inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame this year—has joined in on as co-host. They live in Boulder, Colorado, and have a daughter, Sydney, 4, and a son, Archer, 2. Recently, Greg reflected on how his perspective on life has evolved as he’s grown with Laura, posting, “Personally, for the longest time, I was focused almost entirely on myself and my career. Then I met Laura. I shifted energy to our relationship and her career but received even more energy back. My own career accelerated and my performances improved. Now I have kids. I have shifted my energy into family and the rewards are multiplied.”
The Couple: Jan Frodeno and Emma (Snowsill) Frodeno
When Australian Emma Snowsill won an Olympic gold medal in triathlon at the 2008 Games in Beijing, so did a tall, gregarious German named Jan Frodeno in the men’s event. Snowsill, engaged to another pro triathlete at the time, didn’t know much about Frodeno (aside the fact that he was tall and chatty), but made an immediate connection in the spring of 2010.
The two dated as they continued to shine on the draft-legal world circuit: In June, 2010, Snowsill picked up $200,000 in prize money at the Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa while Frodeno pocketed his own chunk of the famed $1 million purse (the sport’s largest ever single-day prize purse at the time) for his fifth-place showing at the same race. The literal golden couple made fans both in and out of the sport. Case in point: Their October 2013 wedding in Italy was featured in an Australian celebrity magazine.
Where are they now: While Frodeno, 40, a three-time Ironman world champion, is still racing, Snowsill, also 40, retired in 2014 after a series of health battles (although the two had a sweet finish line moment last year at the SGRAIL100 adventure race in their home of Girona, Spain, Snowsill’s first public return to racing in several years). Aside from focusing on Jan’s career, the pair, parents of Lucca, 5, and Sienna, 4, has poured their time into business and charity ventures.