In the year 2000, 25-year-old Jean Claude Constandse accepted a challenge from a co-worker to attempt his first triathlon at Wildflower. Despite having no formal swim training, an old bike and a pair of worn-out basketball shoes, he enthusiastically registered and found himself at the starting line of the mountain bike triathlon course. While that co-worker may have beat him to the finish line that year, Constandse eventually ended up winning her hand in marriage!
Constandse, originally from Mexico, was an athlete but had never trained to swim, bike or run. He survived the swim by walking along the bottom while throwing in the occasional breaststroke and doggie paddle. “The bike was not easy,” he remembered, “and the run was very painful in board shorts and basketball shoes.” By the middle of the two-mile-run, fatigue had set in and Constandse recalled seeing stars and was ready to pass out. It was in this raw experience that captured his passion, “At that moment, I knew I had pushed my body to an unknown place,” he explained, “I was instantly hooked on this new and exciting sport of triathlon.”
As a result of his passion and respect for the sport, Constandse founded the San Diego-based, Coyotes Triathlon & Bike Club in 2006. “I couldn’t wait to get everyone involved in this new life- changing sport. I wanted to this sport to enrich their lives like it did mine” he says. “My wife Nancie and I love to train together, and although she does not do triathlons to such competitive level, she does enjoy the lifestyle. Wildflower has always been a magical time of year for us.”
Since forming the club, Coach JC, as Constandse’s athletes call him, has gone on to compete all over the globe including: World Championships in Kona, 70.3 Clearwater and Chattanooga, ITU Worlds and even Xterra World Championships in Maui. Without hesitation, JC says, “Wildflower is my all-time favorite race! The energy, course, and camaraderie is like no other race experience out there.”
JC has raced the legendary Wildflower course for 17 consecutive years and will be back on the long course next May to defend his top podium spot in the 40-44 category. “It took me 17 years, but I finally made it to the top step of the Wildflower podium.”
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