Sidelines: Wechsler, foodie/triathlete

Editor’s Note: On select weekend days, ESPN Front Row will feature an ESPN employee who will share a story about favorite hobbies andpursuits. Ron Wechsler, VP ESPN Content Development, reveals how he balances his love of food with being a triathlete.

I’ve been with ESPN since 2003.  In the Content Development group, we are charged with developing and executing new ideas for all of our platforms.  In my tenure, that’s covered scripted series and movies, feature documentaries, “The Contender,” “Sport Science,” “Mayne Street,”

“ESPNU Road Trip,” and most recently “The Next Round.”  I’m fortunate that there is an enormous amount of variety in my job, which suits my personality.

One particularly exciting element of my position is that I often get to travel on remote shoots, which allows me to indulge my strong interest in regional cuisine.

To me, food is a window into the culture and soul of a town, county or state.   From Phillipe’s The Original in downtown LA, to Dreamland BBQ. . . in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to the Mmmpenada Truck in Austin, Texas, to Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in Columbus, Ohio, to Mother’s Restaurant  in New Orleans… these culinary institutions feature distinctive fare that make our country unique, diverse, and special.

Yet the care and passion that goes into them, much like the sports landscape we cover, speak to the values that unite us as a nation.   They provide for us the venues in which we can come together and experience sensory moments individually, yet collectively.  They create memories that serve as emotional touch points for the journey of our lives.   These sights, smells, and tastes . . . it’s amazing how emotionally resonant they are.  How they can instantly transport you back to where you first came into contact with them.

Now, all of this indulgence has to be balanced out somehow right?

Well, the truth is that I very seldom eat this way.  At home, I maintain a strict diet and exercise regimen.  In addition to weekly Bikram Yoga(where you perform a series of 26 postures in a 105-degree room for 90 minutes), I also tried my hand at triathlons last year.  I was a swimmer in high school and college, but never much of a runner or road biker.  So I started with a few smaller 5K runs, and a long distance swim here and there.  By August, I had finished an “Olympic distance” triathlon (SWIM .9-mi/BIKE 24.8-mi/RUN 6.2-mi).  And by the fall I completed my first half-marathon.  This year, the goals are a Half-Ironman and the NYC marathon.

So in the weeks and months to come, as a contributor to the ESPN Front Row  I’ll not only fill you in on what I’m working on for the Content Development Group, but I’ll also let you in on where to go when you want to get an incredible bite to eat when you find yourself on the road, and how my training is coming along working it off as I gear up for the big events.

(Twitter: @RonWechsler)

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