Age / DOB
Feb 20 1985
“I definitely took a bit of a different route compared to the norm,” says Matt Trautman of his path into triathlon.
Nicknamed ‘The Captain’, his sporting background did involve water. But if he was ever swimming, then something had gone wrong.
Instead Matt was a top canoe racer and white-water kayaker before racing high-performance yachts for a living for 10 years. He became the first South African to complete the Mini Transat 650, a solo Transatlantic crossing, and notched victories in some of the biggest events around the globe.
But, looking for “a new challenge” and having grown up in the big endurance community of Pietermaritzburg, he started to gravitate towards the world of triathlon.
Trautman “loved it” from his very first race and made rapid progress. The first IRONMAN was South Africa in 2012, where he won his age group, and the following year he was second at Kona in his age category.
Matt turned professional in 2014, and his first big win was at IRONMAN Wales that year. Frequent victories followed, including on home turf at 70.3 South Africa in 2015 and 2016.
Then at the start of 2017, when out training on the bike just before his bid for a third-straight win in his home event, he suffered career-threatening injuries after he was hit by a car. He was left with a compression fracture of his lumbar vertebra, and spinal fusion surgery followed before he had to learn to walk again.
Remarkably, just a year later, and despite sciatic back pain before and during the race, Trautman marked his recovery by notching a belated third triumph at 70.3 South Africa. Fittingly he also went back to Wales that season to notch a second IRONMAN victory in what he calls his favourite race.
“So stoked to come back to IRONMAN Wales and lift this tape again,” he posted that evening.
“Four years on from the last time, and with a little more metal in the body. It’s been quite a journey and one that wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible support of so many.”
Asked now what he’s most proud of he says: “My family and that comeback year of 2018”.
2019 provided more encouragement for Trautman as he won Challenge Almere, in the process breaking the course record at what was also the official ETU Long Distance Triathlon European Championships.
Matt then looked better than ever at the start of 2020 as he scorched to a dominant victory at 70.3 South Africa, with his wife and young son on hand to cheer him over the line.
Given what he’s been through, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that his favourite piece of racing advice is simply: “Out tough ’em”.