Guilherme Ferreira Campos (or simply "G" to his English-speaking friends) is a Brazilian/Italian, former med student turned professional triathlete. He and his wife Patricia recently moved from the bustling streets of Rio de Janeiro to the triathlon mecca of Boulder CO, going “all in” in pursuit of the dream. Whether in the pool, the mountains, on the track, or speeding through town on his Vespa, this guy is always on the go!
What's your background and how did you get into triathlon?
As a Brazilian, I was born in a country where soccer is by far the number one sport and team sports such volleyball and basketball are also pretty popular. Since my childhood, I was always very connected with “ball” team sports and played basketball competitively for 3 years. I ended up being a 5’6’’ guy so you all can figure out why I had to stop playing after age 12! After that I started playing soccer till my last year in high school. By that time I already had a huge desire to be a professional athlete but some personal issues made me quit sports for a while and start medical school full time. After 2 years I realized sports were my true passion and decided to quit and start my bachelors in Sports Science. I decided while in college to try some new stuff and started running with a group coached by one of my former soccer coaches. Even after a couple of years without training, I could still run pretty well thanks to several years as a soccer player. I also bought a road bike and decided to do some duathlons for fun. I then started learning how to swim and was hooked after doing my first triathlon in the sprint distance.
What was the process of becoming a professional triathlete?
2013 will be my first season as a professional triathlete. Until I graduated from college in 2010 I didn’t take it so seriously. I didn’t have a structured training schedule, nor the commitment and discipline that a professional must have. I decided then to train full time and had a pretty good 2010-2011 season as an age grouper. I then began spending a lot of time and energy into my training and racing and my next goal was to turn professional. I was able to obtain my pro card in Italy, but I had a rough end of 2011 struggling with injuries that kept coming back throughout 2012. Now I am 100% healthy again and looking forward to my season in the pro ranks focusing on long course (70.3 and Ironman distances).
What motivates you?
Honestly my biggest motivation to do triathlon is the lifestyle. One of the things I like most in my routine is receiving my training plan Sunday night and carefully planning the details of my rides and runs… looking at the sets, the intervals, and understanding what I am asked to do. Knowing that I’ll have to wake up the next day to do a long ride and preparing my nutrition. I definitely enjoy every step of the training process. Also, racing has given me the opportunity to see places around the world, get to know people, and live situations I’d never experience if I wasn’t racing triathlons. That’s simply fantastic and all these reasons motivate me a lot!
You were born in Brazil, yet race for Italy. Why? Who are your teammates?
That’s an interesting question for sure and people ask me a lot about that. Most of my family lives in Brazil, but my mother’s side of the family was born in Italy. My grandfather came to Brazil during the Second World War when Italy was going through very hard times and he saw bigger opportunities in Brazil at that moment. I feel very blessed and proud to have Brazilian and Italian “blood” running in my veins, and I love the habits, culture, and everything related to both countries. Triathlon is growing in Brazil but for sure is a lot bigger in Europe. I used to live in Rio de Janeiro, which is a huge metropolis like New York where you have to drive one hour out of town to ride a bike. Even far from town it still wasn’t safe and I had a hit and run accident where I broke a collarbone, bruised some ribs and had several road rashes. Besides that, Rio is a town where all sponsorship budgets are exclusively driven by soccer. It would be impossible to both train at a high level and make a living from the sport there. I then realized racing as an Italian (and I had that right because I am a legal Italian citizen) would be a better call.
Italy has a good “club” structure: there are teams all over the country that help their professional athletes with training structure, equipment, travelling to races, etc. This is my second year racing with the TD Rimini club. I was very lucky to have met the team’s president, Alessandro Alessandri, who has helped me since the first moment I decided to race as an Italian athlete. I also take my hat off to the Italian National Federation (Fitri) who welcomed me very well and gave me all the support I needed to be able to race for Italy. TD Rimini is one of the biggest clubs in Italy, with 30-40 kids in their talent program (U18), 100+ age group athletes, and 10 Elite athletes. Some club teammates include Luca Fachinetti, who is a talented young ITU athlete, and Alessio Pico who is a member of the National Duathlon Team. Our president Alessandro is now retired but was a very successful athlete himself. The club has been ranked number one in the country four times, and I am glad to be part of such a great team!
For Italy as a whole, the most accomplished athletes at the international level for the men are: Daniel Fontana (Olympian and several time podium finisher in WTC Ironman and 70.3 races), former pro cyclist Massimo Cigana, Matteo Annovazi (several time National Team member and Italian National champion), and Alessandro Degasperi (one of the fastest athletes on the course when racing 70.3 WTC races). The women have Edith Niederfriniger and Martina Dogana, who are also very successful at the international level.
How was your 2012 season? What was the highlight/lowlight?
2012 was definitely a big year for me. I got married and moved to train and live full time in the United States in Boulder, Colorado. Such a big change of course brought me a super busy schedule and some challenges regarding documents, finding a place to live, and also taking care of all the needs of my wife in our life in a new country. It was a very demanding and stressful long-term process, and of course it reflected on my training routine. But I still consider that a super highlight, as being able to train and live in Boulder was a dream come true. I also had some decent results in some local/regional races which made me pretty happy, especially considering what was going on in my personal life. The bad part of it was not being able to have a structured racing schedule and having to deal with a calf/ankle injury throughout the year.
From your website I see a very exciting 2013 schedule. What are your goals for the year?
First of all I am excited to be 100% healthy again, as this is the key for everything in both training and racing. I was supposed to kick off my season at the inaugural Mercuryman Triathlon in the beautiful Grand Cayman Islands, but unfortunately I couldn't get fit in time. I was still able to fly to the island due to the amazing efforts of race directors Johan Heath and Trevor Murphy, and it's definitely a race everyone should consider to kick off their season next year! Looking forward, I am very excited to be racing my first WTC races and my first Italian National Long Course Championships in May. My main goals will be a solid result at the National Champs and a possible qualification to represent Italy at the ITU Long Distance Worlds in France. Also to have good results at some 70.3 races in the WTC circuit, as well as at Ironman Louisville (Kentucky) and Ironman Lake Tahoe. It’s a demanding race schedule that was carefully planned by me and my coach Grant Holicky, and I am very motivated to do all these races!
As a regular person, how has the transition to the US been for you?
Living in the US was something I always dreamed about. I always visited the country on vacations with my family and was always very connected and adapted to the American culture and way of life. I’ve spoken English since I was very young, so the language wasn’t a problem. Boulder is a very pleasant and cozy town, and the local community has welcomed both me and my wife pretty well. The quality of life is amazing, and Boulder has to be the happiest, fittest and healthiest city in the country! I ride an Italian Vespa scooter around town and can easily get everywhere in just a few minutes! My only concern was making the change as easy and comfortable as possible for my wife. She’s still learning English, but already feels at home in Boulder too. We’re surrounded by a lot of nature, the stunning Flat Irons and the Rocky Mountains. It’s impossible to not feel happy in a place like this! The hardest part for us is the winter, but we’re handling it! J
As a triathlete, how has moving to the triathlon mecca of Boulder, CO been?
For sure that was the BEST thing ever that could have happened to me! In Boulder, everything related not only to triathlon but sports in general is World Class. I was lucky enough to have the chance to meet two amazing coaches that I am glad to work with: Grant Holicky from Apex coaching and Lee Troop from the Boulder Track Club. Sometimes having access to high level coaches and squads can be tricky, but since the first e-mail contact both have given me so much attention and willingness to help me achieve my goals. Grant is a very skilled swim coach who has that extra “feeling” even with swimmers like me that got into the pool later. I really trust his workouts and I am sure he knows what works best for me. Same with Lee Troop. He’s a 3x Olympian marathoner for Australia and there’s so much you can learn from an athlete of his caliber and everybody involved in the Boulder Track Club sessions. That’s by far one of the most motivating atmospheres I’ve ever experienced where every athlete is supporting and pushing each other! Being in Boulder I have plenty of options for my rides: if I want to climb I go towards the mountains and can climb forever, if I want a recovery ride I just stay on the flats. On the sidelines I work with the best staff in the endurance scene: Brad Seng and Craig David from Max Muscle Boulder Nutrition take care of my nutrition plan, Todd Mallory keeps my recovery on track at Integrative Healing Acupuncture, and if you need to work on your position on the bike you have access to Mat Steinmetz, who works with Ironman Champions and the best in our sport! Having the chance to work with and learn from all these professionals is priceless. Lastly I can say that the tri community in Boulder is super friendly and one of the most passionate in our sport!
Do you see a lot of other pros around? Who do you train with?
Yes I do, actually all the time. Everywhere you go in Boulder, the chance of meeting other pro athletes (not only triathletes but runners, cyclists and swimmers as well) is huge. When I started training with the Apex Team I was pretty much the only age grouper. I am glad to have as teammates such successful athletes as Cameron Dye, Allen Gardner and Kyle Leto just to name a few. Watching day in day out those guys makes you realize how hard you have to work to be a pro athlete as they all are super talented but go out there every day and do all sessions with an incredible level of commitment and discipline. We even have an Olympian on the team in Flora Duffy, and it’s amazing just to be in the same environment and learn from everyone. We have some key sessions we all do together and I have some sessions I do on my own when Grant asks. For my run sessions I join Lee Troop and the Boulder Track Club’s group sessions, and we have athletes from Olympic prospects and the US Cross Country National Team to very dedicated and recreational runners. In the summer lots of international athletes spend some time in town and I sometimes train with Australian friends such as Melissa Rollison and her husband Jared.
What's your sponsorship situation like?
Thank you for asking. I wouldn't be able to live and make anything of what I've said without my sponsors support. I would like to take that chance to take my hat off to my amazing sponsors and everybody who's involved with those companies. For the 2013 season I'll keep racing and training with Champion System apparel. CS has a design lab for their gear that allows you to customize the design of your kits with an almost endless range of colors to make it look exactly the way you want and your creativity permits! Go check www.champ-sys.com for more details! Regarding equipment, I'll have access to high tech and quality tri gear. Thanks to Rolf Prima Wheels, (www.rolfprima.com) who will be powering my ride with the aerodynamical advantage of the Ares 6 Carbon Clincher Wheelset. You can also see my athlete profile on their site at http://www.rolfprima.com/athletes-campos.php. I'll be riding a Fuji D6 frameset for this season, and besides being super light, responsive, and stiff, its design looks great as is every single bike of the Fuji 2013 collection! I bet if you go check www.fujibikes.com you will have a hard time choosing yours! Swiftwick will be helping me to keep my recovery on track after a hard workout with their compression gear. If you wanna combine comfort, blister-free workouts and compression efficiency go check www.swiftwick.com. On Running (www.on-running.com), the Swiss-based company that's innovating the running shoe market with their Cloud Technology, will provide me with comfortable and fast shoes for training and racing! Definitely worth checking out their website to read a bit more about the Cloud Technology. I am more than glad as an Italian athlete to represent an Italian brand on US soil, riding with F'iZi:k (the phonetic spelling for the word Physique) saddles and cycling shoes. Check out www.fizik.it for the latest news about Fizik equipment, riders and cycling products! Training and equipment are keys for performance, but having the correct nutrition guidance is equally important! I am very glad to have the chance to be sponsored by a local Boulder business, Max Muscle Boulder Sports Nutrition, that provides me all my nutrition needs and the best nutrition plan optimized and personalized for me through their professional crew (FB page: https://www.facebook.com/MaxMuscleBoulder and MM athletes page: http://boulder.maxmuscle.com/news/max%20athletes/). I'd like to also thank my sponsors in Brazil, Eco-X and the social project www.faveladarocinha.com.
Also, a big shout out to all my club members at TD Rimini in Italy, teammates at the Apex Team, Boulder Track Club, Timex Factory Team, and the whole crew at Rally Sport Boulder, as well as my coaches Grand Holicky and Lee Troop. Lastly, I'd like to thank my parents and my wife, who give me unconditional support and help me to fight for my goals. They are my biggest sponsors of all!
Thanks for your time, Guilherme, and best of luck as you continue to pursue the dream! Check out more on the G-Man, including his exciting 2013 schedule, at gui-campos.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and via Twitter handle @g_moneyracing.