From an early age, Hunter Kemper dreamt of one day competing against the very best athletes in the world.
“Ever since I was a little kid—8 years old to be exact—I’ve wanted to be an Olympian. Growing up, I loved watching athletes from the USA compete against the best in the world on the biggest stage in the world. I had a hat that read ‘Goin For Gold’ which I wore everywhere. The Olympic flame, the American anthem, the Opening Ceremonies, the medals, the pageantry, the country flags, the world records—I loved it all.”
Hunter realized he had a talent for swimming, cycling—he competed in his first triathlon at age 10 and won his age division race—and would go on to run in high school as well as on the collegiate level before eventually going pro as a triathlete. While on the cross country team at Wake Forest University, Hunter took what had been his weakest discipline in triathlon and turned it into his strongest.
“It was my favorite—it still is—of the triathlon,” he says. “I had four years [in college] of great coaching and great workouts and great athletes and teammates who pushed me to be a better runner … I was surrounded by people who were way better runners than me. And I learned from them.”
He also learned the importance of training in what he calls “the black and white zone,” rather than a gray one. This is something he feels every athlete-in-training can and should try to do.
“On your hard days, really take them seriously, and then on your easy days, go really easy. That was one thing I really held onto.”
Hunter, a 4-time Olympian and 7-time U.S. Elite National Champion, is returning to the Boyne City Triathlon, which marks its 5th year this Labor Day weekend. He inspired last year’s participants with a pre-race talk and handed out race medals at the finish. A race discount code for this race is shared during the show. (There's still time to sign on for this Sunday, Sept. 3 race, which includes Olympic and sprint distances as well as relay and duathlon options.)
During this episode, Hunter talks about his Olympic dreams realized (along with the heartaches he has experienced throughout), and what he plans to do as a soon-to-be-retired professional triathlete. He’s not only incredibly talented as an athlete, he’s also kind and hilarious. He really gets Heather laughing during the show, as they talk about Heather's own triathlon experiences and also his impressive journey as an athlete and father of four young children with his wife Val (who also is a talented athlete).
Hunter is the most decorated U.S. triathlete in history. A four-time member of the USA Olympic triathlon team, he is one of only two men in the world to qualify for every Olympic triathlon (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012).
Boyne City Triathlon: https://tritofinish.com/boyne-city-triathlon