Author of the Month

Breaking Triathlon World Records Together – Meet Our Author and Racing Power Couple John Wragg and Elizabeth Model

The new Memoir “Go” details John Wragg and Elizabeth Model’s journey competing across all seven continents and completing 400 full-distance triathlons.

“The challenges are part of the journey.”

John Wragg

We’re shining the spotlight on a triathlon power couple, John Wragg and Elizabeth Model, who are breaking records all over the world!

They have competed across all seven continents, completing 400 full-distance triathlons! Wragg has almost completed 300 triathlons, more than anybody else on this planet! And Model is one of only two women to have competed in more than 100 triathlons.

The Canadian couple co-wrote their memoir “Go: A Multi-Sport Journey Through Seven Continents” and are Tellwell’s January Author of the Month!

Embark on a journey with John Wragg and Elizabeth Model, a couple who conquered the world of triathlons. In this interview, we explore their love story that began at the Ironman finish line in Tempe, Arizona, and the highs and lows of their multisport adventures.

Their book, Go, documents their global triathlon experiences, highlighting races like the Ironman Championship in Kona. As a couple who has competed globally, they reflect on the cultural differences in the triathlon community.

The interview explores the collaborative process of creating Go, shedding light on the role Tellwell played. John and Elizabeth provide advice for couples considering triathlons, emphasizing the importance of respecting each other’s training.

The impact of their journey on their perspective of different cultures is discussed, sharing challenges and moments from their global adventure. They hope readers gain insights into the shared human experience across cultures, fostering appreciation worldwide.

What inspired you both to venture into the world of triathlons, and how did your journey as a couple in this sport begin?

John: This is outlined in Chapter 1 of the book and is a love story—I have always been active and started in the eighties with triathlon in the beginnings of the sport. Elizabeth and I met at the Ironman finish line in the mess tent, as outlined in Chapter 1 in Tempe, Arizona.

Elizabeth: I started my first triathlon, it was an Ironman, and I was introduced to it by a couple of girlfriends, again outlined in Chapter 1, at the age of 46. I had signed up for my second before finishing my first, as I love the endurance factor and multi-sport.  Meeting John in Arizona changed my life for the better.

Go documents your global triathlon adventures. Can you share a standout moment or race that holds a special place in your hearts?

John & Elizabeth: The standout event was the Ironman Championship in Kona where we crossed the finish line together; this was our ahhh-haaa moment. Obviously doing so many, the big numbers stand out: John’s 100 in Langkawi, Malaysia; 200 in Cozumel, Mexico; and Elizabeth 100 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Triathlons are physically demanding. How do you balance the challenges of training and competing with maintaining a strong relationship?  

Elizabeth: I still work, so keeping separate interests and close friends are still vital to top myself up. 

John: I have my photography and interests in reading, studying updates on anything dealing with anatomy and physiology, and sports- and health-related research.  

Tell us about the process of creating Go. How did the idea come about, and what was the collaborative experience like?

Elizabeth: This was John’s idea, and he kept bugging me for years that we had to write a book based on our experiences.  I started in 2019, just before the pandemic, on a skiing trip to Sweden, and it was a great project to focus on, just to get us through a rough two years.

John: I have hundreds if not a few thousand photos I wanted to share, and some great travel stories and experiences, and documenting my travels before Elizabeth and our journey together was important to me. It helped to keep the focus during the tough two years of lockdowns. That was a really tough time for me.

Competing in triathlons requires mental resilience. Can you share insights into how you support each other mentally during the highs and lows of training and racing?

John: It’s a long, hard day, and we are both wired the same way. Ken Glah always states, “Ironman is not about the fittest and the fastest, it’s about who is the toughest mentally.” Elizabeth and I both have type AA personalities and understand and get each other. We don’t have to explain ourselves. If we are having a tough day, we both get that, as we have both experienced it. 

Elizabeth: It’s all between the ears, and we respect each other in what we do and go through. Not every day is going to be perfect, and we have to accept each other’s decisions and abilities on any given day. John struggles with depression and I don’t, so I support him through the ups and downs. With the personal challenges I have faced, John is always there for me and that is so appreciated. 

As a couple who has competed globally, what cultural or regional differences have you encountered in the triathlon community, and how has it enriched your overall experience?  

John: There are so many differences from every aspect of life: food, culture, sports, etc. Every country and Ironman tri, and sanctioned x-country ski race is different.  

Elizabeth: We have highlighted that also in the book, the best and the not so best. We have both had our ups and downs coping with food differences and GI issues, and have many fun stories to share with the reader. It’s been a journey.

Go was published with Tellwell. Can you walk us through the journey of bringing your adventures to life in book form, and the role Tellwell played in that process?

John: We had finished the book ourselves and it was edited and ready to be published. I received an email from Tellwell, and think I was referred by a good friend who has also published via Tellwell. I discussed it with Elizabeth and set up a conference call. We had approached other publication companies and never heard anything back. One did finally get back to us, eight months after the fact.  

ELizabeth: Pleased with Tellwell. Very professional and they got us across the finish line. 

What advice do you have for couples who may be considering taking on the challenge of triathlons together, both in terms of training and maintaining a strong partnership? 

John: The couples that play together, stay together. Ensure you have your best friend at your side. 

Elizabeth: What works for one person might not work for another, and John and I train and race to our own schedules and plans. Be respectful of each other’s training and racing. After the racing is done, the most important factor is that we are there for each other.

As authors who have explored various regions, can you share some unique challenges and memorable moments that stood out during your global adventure, and how did they contribute to the narrative of your book? 

John: The challenges are part of the journey, from missed and cancelled flights to transportation logistics and language barriers. Will your luggage arrive on time? Where is your luggage and sporting gear?  These are all stories we share with the reader in the book. Memorable moments are captured on camera.  

Elizabeth: Being in the moment and being attuned to all your senses is key for me. The smells of spices in markets, the street vendors in Taiwan and the language that we don’t speak or read and struggling through food choices or directions. I also view the city from different lenses of: city building – what do they do right and wrong; how are the transportation connections; what is their street activation, and public places like? This all adds to our stories.

What insights do you hope readers will gain from your book about the shared human experience across different cultures?

John and Elizabeth: We are all human beings in this world, and we are respectful of the different cultures and insights into how we live and how grateful we are to have experienced all of it, and think and feel it’s ours to share. The differences in lives across the world is extraordinary, and we both believe travel is the best educator. It gives us history, geography, cultural and food experiences, and acceptance of others no matter where they live and their status in life. It also has given us great appreciation for being Canadian.

Go: A Multisport Journey Through Seven Continents is available on Amazon.ca, Barns & Noble and other popular digital retailers.

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