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article imageInterview: Ted Adams III races for gold with TRI sports drama Special

By Markos Papadatos     May 6, 2016 in Entertainment
Ahead of the film's wide summer release, Digital Journal chatted with Ted Adams to get the latest on what could be this year's "Creed."
The inspiring sports drama TRI, from Red Zeppelin Productions, has been doing the festival rounds over the past couple of months. The film deals with a medical technician with a history of not finishing things who is inspired by a cancer patient to do for her first Triathlon. The first scripted feature narrative about triathlons that has been developed for theatrical release, the film is co-written and produced by Theodore 'Ted' Adams III, a two time Ironman finisher and professional triathlon coach who has led cancer awareness programs.
How you? What have you been doing recently?
I am feeling over the top from last week’s sold out screening of TRI at the NOVA International Film Festival and coming home with five statuettes for: Film of the Year; Best Actress – Jensen Jacobs; Best Inspirational Film; Best Family/Faith Based Film; and, the NOVA Film Award for best film made in Virginia and the Washington Metropolitan Area.
Congrats! Please tell me about the film and how you got involved?
TRI is a film about change and overcoming obstacles. Life is all about transforming and TRI highlights the need to all of us to transform and transition to move forward. I was a career soccer player and competed on an international and semi-professional level. When my legs could no longer take the beatings from younger competitors, I needed to find a new sport to stay fit.
In April 2011, I found an 8 week program for triathlon training on the Internet and did it all in a fitness center. I was going to do my own private triathlon in the gym and not tell anyone. Just by coincidence, I found there was a mini triathlon that happened to take place on the same weekend my training program ended, so I signed up. I was a pretty good recreational swimmer, but I was terrified at the prospected of a 250 yard swim with a bunch of triathletes, followed by a 4 mile bike and 1.5 mile run. In fact, I didn’t even purchase a bike until the day before the race. I remember going to my local bike shop and asking the salesman to show me his cheapest bike. The guy asked me, “When’s your race?’ I said, “Tomorrow!”
After completing my first triathlon I was hooked, so I went on line and looked for another race. I saw the ad for the Nations Triathlon and when I went to sign up, it was full but you could get in through a program called “Team in Training” (TNT). TNT is a program that is organized by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that raises money for cancer research. I found this to be an ideal motivator because I lost my father to multiple myeloma and this was a great way to not only honor his memory, but also support a terrific cause. Also, TNT had a very well structured training program that was developed under the supervision of 6 Time Ironman World Champion, Dave Scott.
After doing four races with TNT, and serving as mentor the last season, I joined the newly established T3 Honu Multisport Team which was comprised mostly of TNT alumni.
It was from my experiences with TNT and T3 Honu that the idea of TRI was born. My time with both clubs exposed me to some of the most inspirational and remarkable people I had ever met. From health care providers to cancer survivors and in some cases, people battling the disease while training for a triathlon. Everyone brought a unique journey to the group.
Since my first mini tri, I have completed dozens of longer races including my first Ironman in Lake Placid in 2013 and my second Ironman in Wisconsin in 2014. I am currently training for my third that I will do in Chattanooga later this year. I also became a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach.
TRI started out as a “fun passion project” that I was going to do with my friend and attorney, Tara Gorman. She and I were already working on a couple of other big budget films, and TRI started out as a production that would get us warmed up for the others.
Tri is the first scripted feature narrative about triathlons developed for theatrical release. How does it feel to see a story about an event with which you've been so closely involved make it to the big screen?
It feels amazing to be in a position to do a film about a sport that has had such a strong impact on my life.
This particular story was inspired by triathletes who have lived with cancer, lost someone to cancer, is fighting cancer as a health-care provider or is supporting a loved one who is fighting cancer today. I have had direct interactions with a number of inspirational people who are true “givers”, people who give all that they can without asking anything in return. The world of triathlon is abundant with these people.
TRI is about transition. There are two official transitions in a triathlon, T1 and T2. A triathlon starts with a swim, then a bike and then a run. Going from the swim to the bike is Transition 1 (T1) and going from the bike to the run is Transition 2 (T2). Some people consider the finish line as the unofficial third transition (T3) because you have completed your transition to becoming a “triathlete” or an “Ironman”. It is a sport that steeps of “transition” in many forms.
TRI is a celebration of that transition for each of the characters in the story. Each character’s story arc is dealing with or addressing a transition that is personal to them, much like we all deal with in our everyday lives.
What are your fondest memories of your time as a triathlete and as a coach? What advice would you give to young people hoping to get into it?
I have met some of my closest friends through triathlon. It does not matter which distance you want to do, it’s just the idea of meeting your own personal goals.
As a triathlete, I remember being terrified at the prospect of “racing” with people in a 250 yard swim, which was the distance in the swim portion of my first mini-Sprint triathlon. After completing the 4 mile bike and 1.5 mile run, you would have thought I had won the Ironman World Championship in Kona. Since then, my fondest memory was finishing my first Ironman at Lake Placid which was a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile marathon. I was asked how I felt after becoming an “Ironman”, and I remember saying it felt the same as completing my first triathlon, but a lot longer.
The greatest feeling I get as a coach is seeing someone who was filled with doubt have that epiphany moment when they realize that that can actually do all three legs of a triathlon and know that they will reach their goal.
What are your plans for the rest of 2016 and beyond? Do you hope to write more movies?
Jai, Tara and I are already working on our next projects. We have a slate of films that are being set up. It is just a matter of choosing which will be the next in line.
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