- Name: Sarah Piampiano
- Age/ Weight/ Height: 36, 120 lbs, 5’7″
- Hometown: Cumberland, Me
- Current City: San Rafael, CA
- Education: BA from Colby College; double majored in Biology and Economics
- Nicknames: Little Red, Piamps, Pimp, Piano, Pom Pom, Lil P, Gimpy/ Gimpster
- Favorite color: white
- Favorite foods: my mother’s cooking, cheeseburgers. ice cream, sushi, thai, my grandmother’s halushki, lobster, pizza, wild Maine berries, grilled cheese and tomato soup
- Favorite music: Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, Snow Patrol, Flo Rida, David Guetta, Coldplay, Keith Urban
- Favorite places: my family’s cabin in Maine, Vermont, Brazil, anywhere in the mountains
- First triathlon: 2009
- Favorite race: Ironman Austria
- Favorite post race food: Cheese pizza, cheeseburgers, Dairy Queen
- Favorite pre-race song: “Titanium” by David Guetta feat. Sia
I was a Maine-born kid with the skinned knees and bruises that raised eyebrows in the hospital ER.
I grew up with two older brothers and anything they did, I wanted to do. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, in the end), the only way they ever permitted me to play with them was if I could do everything as well as they did.
Despite being karate chopped in the face, zipped into hockey bags, hit with blueberries shot out of pellet guns, and generally and constantly picked on (lovingly, of course!!!), I gained a few skills along the way, including an unshakeable determination to never give up.
I was on skis at age 2.
At 13 I hit a tree and shattered my elbow. After three surgeries and more than a year of physical therapy, I picked myself up and headed to Stratton Mountain School, a ski academy in Vermont. For three years I raced around the globe against the World’s best.
I rode a two-wheeler at age 3 and promptly broke my wrist. Another trip to the ER. I hopped back on that bike as soon as I got home.
I tried water-skiing for the first time at age 4 after JM promised me 8 sour balls if I got up. Time after time, I was dragged underwater, refusing to let go of the rope. Finally, my mother carried me home despite my pleadings to try one more time.
The next year, at age 5, I got up on my first try.
At age 8, I became a runner. I was determined to qualify for the National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championship in Reno, Nevada. I was scrawny and at the bottom of the age group. But I secured that last qualifying spot.
Reno was a defining moment for me as a young athlete. I was awed by my experience and began to dream of sharing an Olympic podium with Joan Benoit-Samuelson, winner of the first women’s Olympic marathon in 1984, and my childhood hero.
At age 14 I placed 8th at the National Cross Country Championships and at 15 I won the Maine State Cross-Country title as a Sophomore before deciding to concentrate on downhill ski racing.
In college I was a 3-season athlete, captain of the cross-country team my senior year, and a Division I ski racer.
After graduation in 2002 my focus turned towards developing a career in finance, working at Thomas Weisel Partners and Morgan Stanley in San Francisco, and eventually (2005) HSBC Securities in New York City.
At HSBC I worked 90-100+ hour weeks and travelled 14 days out of every month to Asia, South and Central America and Europe. I met inspiring individuals and was afforded incredible opportunities to advise some of the largest and most successful companies in the world. I was challenged and happy.
Then in late 2009 my friend Todd signed up for a triathlon. Over a few too many drinks and a pack of cigarettes I bet Toddy that I could show up and beat him at his race. No training. No preparation. I barely knew what a triathlon entailed.
Not only did I win the bet, I loved every moment of the experience and walked away with a fire in my belly. I thought – “I love this. I can be GOOD….or maybe even great”.
Suffice to say that was the beginning of the end! In 2010 I started training with some regularity and after a handful successes decided I wanted give this a real go – to see if I could make it as a Pro.
At the beginning of 2011 I began working with Matt Dixon of Purplepatch Fitness, and with the full support of HSBC reduced my schedule of 30 hours per week so that I could chase my dream.
In 2012 I left my job at HSBC, put all of my belongings into storage, and moved across country to Los Angeles to work with renowned open water swim coach, Gerry Rodrigues. I began competing as a professional, and in April won Ironman New Orleans 70.3.
Since turning professional I have accumulated 4 70.3-distance wins, 2 Ironman win and 16 podium performances as well as a 7th place finish at the 2015 and 2016 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
My goal? A whole new level.
What is possible? The dream of that 8-year old kid to become a professional athlete?
The time is now. One life. One chance. No regrets.
My new journey has begun.