Travis and Bree at Triathlon

Classroom, Courtship, and Competition—Meeting Your Match Triathlon-Style

Ironman and triathlon couple Travis Dorsch and Bree Studenka relate their story of finding love while running, biking, and swimming. Written from both perspectives, enjoy their journey from a Purdue classroom to a first-time weekend triathlon to a lifelong love affair with competition—and each other. Look out: apparently Cupid wears a jersey and rides a Cannondale.


As Remembered by Bree

In the fall of 2007, a new graduate student showed up in our department at Purdue University. I noticed him in a departmental seminar that we were both enrolled in, and heard him tell a mutual friend that he was from Montana (potentially outdoorsy—my kind of man!). I also heard him say something about triathlon, which both surprised and intrigued me. When I learned that he had just bought a bike, I invited him on a ride with a friend and me. A few weeks later, that friend and I convinced Travis to do a short triathlon with us in Lafayette. Even though his parents were in town that weekend, Travis reluctantly agreed.

At the race the next morning, Travis’ parents showed up to cheer us on and he introduced me to them for the first time in my swimsuit just before the swim start (Yikes). In the triathlon, Travis beat me out of the water and was again first off the bike; however, as we neared the halfway point of the run I saw him up ahead. After reeling him in, I passed him on his left. I was tempted to give him a pat on the butt as a gesture of encouragement, but I just said “good job” as I ran past him (He he).

At that moment, the competitive fire was lit and (without any adequate training) Travis signed us both up for a 300-mile charity bike ride and a Half Ironman one week apart later that summer. I quickly learned there was no easing into anything with this guy.

“At that moment the competitive fire was lit and…a few months and a few bike rides later, i was smitten.”

A few months and a few bike rides later, I was smitten. It took Travis a few more months to come around, but eventually he was smitten too. Because I was leaving Purdue after completing my Ph.D., we decided to embark on what became four years of a long-distance relationship. That both strained and strengthened our relationship and solidified what we have today. After four years apart, we’re definitely both excited to finally be living in the same place as we begin our life together as professors at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. The Hybrid Trainer: Part Elliptical, Part Recumbent Bike—Total Genius


As Remembered by Travis

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a student and an athlete. After my professional football days, I decided to come back to Purdue University and pursue a postgraduate degree. Little did I know that decision would change my life forever. About a year and a half into my master’s program, this girl shows up who seems to challenge me both intellectually and athletically. Grad school just got a little more interesting! Over the spring semester of 2007, we began talking and hanging out, and we found that we shared many of the same interests and had both come to Indiana from the Rocky Mountains—Bree from Colorado and me from Montana. And so it became a little more interesting…

“On that day, when she passed me on the run course, I fell in love with her and the sport of triathlon.”

Unfortunately, at the time we met, Bree was in a relationship. That didn’t last long. One night, she came to a party at my house with a number of mutual friends. She mentioned that she was doing a triathlon in the morning and said I should join her. Hmmm, “What’s a triathlon?” I pondered. I knew about the cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, but what was the third event? Plus, it was summer and my skis were in Montana. Confused, I googled the sport of triathlon, and found out it was actually comprised of swimming, cycling, and running. “How easy could that be?” I thought. “I’m a former professional athlete … I’ll show her!” Well, that I did—I showed her how bad I was at all three events. On that day, when she passed me on the run course just east of Fairfield Lake in Indiana, smiling I’m sure (I couldn’t see her face when she blew by me), I fell in love with her and the sport of triathlon.


Seven years, a wedding, and six Ironman races later, both love affairs continue passionately!


Travis and Bree on the town


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