For the Ramos family, keeping it in the family is something to be proud of and fulfills a new kind of triathlon family dynamics
Photos by FinisherPix courtesy of the Ramos family
If it isn’t obvious yet, the Ramoses have a storied, albeit brief history with sports.
Each is a familiar presence that reverberates in the Philippine triathlon scene.
Forty-year-old retired banker Jet Ramos is a prominent age-group triathlete who has delivered in numerous events, including the 2019 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice, France, and has qualified for the Ironman World Championship (which for the first time will not be held in Kona before returning in October 2022).
Lou Ann Ramos, 39, is a certified ITU Level 1 coach who displayed her full repertoire of skills, grit, and endurance at the 2018 Escape from Alcatraz race. “My most epic race to date,” she says.
Josh Ramos, at 19, is cut from the same cloth and bound together by his youthful vigor and fully-fledged focus as a national triathlete. Then there are the two prodigies: Dash, 15, and Arrow, 12, who dove headfirst into the sport in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
And if it isn’t as clear as daylight, this athletic family from Baguio is nothing short of expressive, powerful, and striking in their intent to add to their triathlon resumé. Not even hail falling from the sky during a part of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship could put a damper on the sweeping statement they made in St. George, Utah last Sept. 18.
“It was a race like no other,” says Jet.
“All the elements of nature came into play and we know for a fact that those are things we cannot control,” he recalls. “Hail, wind, rain, and then the heat. But I think that really had to happen for it to be even more memorable.”
“Wait, hail fell during the race???” I asked.
“Haha! Yes! The women got the brunt of it. It was unexpected as weather forecasts just said ‘light showers,’” he explains. “I’d say we were like in the middle of a scene from the ‘Wizard of Oz!’”
Fittingly, as Dorothy Gale and her ruby slippers became an iconic symbol of hope and optimism on her “journey of realization,” the Ramoses each found their rainbow of sorts in under seven hours. Jet crossed the finish line in 4:55:47, Josh (who did his first 70.3 in Lubbock, Texas in June and finished in 4:39) in 5:10:46, and Lou Ann in 6:57:25.
As we are still in a turbulent almost two years and counting when the pandemic first ravaged the world, the Ramos family’s accomplishment in St. George—alongside other Filipino athletes Epoy Timbol (4:46:44), Retzel Orquiza (5:41:55), Darryl Parulan (5:49:51), Jeff Parulan (6:54:47), Vanj Endaya (6:56:11), and Tom Navasero (7:15:58)—is of paramount importance.
It’s a momentous occasion not just because the idea of racing as a family—at the world championship no less—is palpably inspiring. But as I discovered in our conversation that kept me on the edge of my seat, this whole thing was unplanned.
Neither studied nor constructed, this was an adventure that spoke of the everyday possibilities that could unfold at any given time. And to a certain extent, it is one of those instances when the unyielding search for balance in the face of frayed circumstances is a necessary catharsis.
What we can vicariously experience with Jet, Lou, and Josh is a kind of motivator that will absolutely connect, dial in, and occupy a space in athletes and non-athletes alike to keep raging on no matter how lost these times may seem.
Do you think triathlon requires a certain kind of personality to be able to compete in the sport?
Jet Ramos: It is a tough sport. It will push you to your limits and I think it is important that you know how to deal with those kinds of situations. I say one’s tenacity plays a huge role.
Josh, was it easier to get into triathlon because you have both your parents in the sport?
Josh Ramos: Yes and no. I really started as a swimmer. Given my being overweight, my parents had to look for some other physical activity for me since running made my knees hurt. So my parents would be running but I would usually be left behind walking. Eventually as I got fitter, doing triathlons made it easier.
In what way does triathlon play a role in your life outside the sport?
Jet: I believe in the phrase “in life and in sport.” For me that says a lot. If your life and your sport are two different worlds, then there is a serious discord somewhere. What you do in your life should be complemented by what you do in the sport and vice versa.
Let’s talk about your Ironman 70.3 World Championship journey. How did you all end up racing in St. George?
Jet: Well, for the past year my A race was really Kona. So what happened was we all came out to the U.S. for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship (and then planned to fly out to Hawaii for Kona). When we got here, I convinced Lou and Josh to register for Ironman 70.3 in Lubbock. Since there were no races back home, I thought it would be good for them to get back to it.
You all trained in the U.S. for four months leading up to the race. Can you briefly share with us your training regimen?
Jet: While we did have our training plans, the big difference was all the travel logistics and adapting to each new place we would go to. That’s where we had to quickly adapt and be creative in order to make the most of our time for training.
How did you stay focused and motivated knowing that we’re all still in this pandemic? Did it in any way impact your training at all?
Jet: It is important to remind yourself why you are doing these things in the first place. More importantly, when something becomes your lifestyle, everything else just falls into place. Don’t get me wrong, the challenges can be daunting, but you just have to keep a level head and plan accordingly.
Lou Ann, you’ve already raced Escape from Alcatraz in 2018, but did you feel any pressure to do well?
Lou Ann Ramos: For me the pressure was just really knowing I had to be better than my present self because I was going to be among the best in the world.
Do you think that competing at Escape from Alcatraz and watching Jet race in Nice helped you in St. George?
Lou Ann: Yes! Definitely. The Escape from Alcatraz race really made me the athlete I am today. Days leading to that race, I could hardly eat and sleep as I was too scared. Not being a “swimmer” but having to jump off the boat and swim 2.5 kilometers in 57-degree waters was daunting for me. After I finished that race, my fears just disappeared. I knew I could take on any race after that.
What about you Josh? Did you feel any pressure?
Josh: Maybe a little, but more because I wanted to do better than my last race. I wanted to see how much more I could push myself.
Were there times in the race when you felt like you wanted to give up or you wouldn’t be able to finish?
Josh: It was when the rain started to pour and the winds picked up when I felt a bit uncertain about whether the race would go on. But otherwise, I was determined to finish the race.
Is there a specific part of the St. George course you loved?
Jet: That would have to be the Snow Canyon climb, which was about 70 kilometers into the bike ride. It was a beautiful scenery of red rocks and white mountains.
What were your personal favorite moments in this journey?
Jet: It was really all about family. Being out here in an unknown land allowed our family to keep tighter together.
Did you all meet your target goals? And where do you think this will take you next?
Jet: Honestly [no]. We would have wanted to do better, but like what Lou and I talked about, we said when we get everything right in one click that may well be the very end of our love for the sport. The need to keep learning keeps us on track of continuous pursuit of excellence. After this, I think we are all hungrier to keep the fire burning. We believe this is the first of many more for our family
And Dash and Arrow’s reactions after seeing you all race?
Jet: Dash is the hungriest among all of us. This was such a good experience for him and he said he can’t wait to do one on his own. Arrow enjoyed all the festivities—the eating and the laughing.
Jet and Lou Ann, what advice would you give to parents who also have athletic children?
Jet and Lou Ann: Be there to support them and motivate them. Allow them to discover their talents and abilities but never push them. Much as we want the best for our children, they will grow and develop in their own way and in their own time. Embrace the journey.
Josh, what advice would you give to kids who also aspire to become triathletes?
Josh: I say keep going. Never tire of pursuing excellence. While challenges will surely be there, you need to remind yourself to push past those challenges.
The interview has been edited for clarity.
Meanwhile, you can also peep their adventures on their YouTube channel: