D Y N A S T Y
THEY say the apple doesn’t fall far from the
tree, but if Phyllis Mason has any say in it, they
won’t be far behind at the finish line either.
Phyllis, a 71-year-old triathlete, began exercis-ing
with her husband to take back their health
after becoming quite sedentary and it led to training for triathlons
fairly rapidly. Phyllis ran her first triathlon in 1986 at age 30 —
when the sport was still a bit foreign to the Wilmington area —
and quickly become one of the fastest racers in her age group. She
has competed in more than 244 races worldwide, has qualified
and competed for Team USA six times and has won a plethora of
national and international awards in her 33-year career.
It was not the goal, however. Her goal was just to be healthy.
“I thought I would be terrible at this. I just wanted to survive
it,” she said.
Phyllis was also a pioneer for youth participation, convincing
many race organizers to lift the 18 and over age requirement
nearly 30 years ago, which resulted in her 13- and 15-year-old
sons becoming the first in their age range to compete in triath-lons
in the North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia region.
Stephen Mason, Phyllis’s youngest son, says he was always
impressed with his mother’s motivation and talent, but he
was often too focused on beating her times to really appreci-ate
The Mason family trained and traveled together for triathlons across North Carolina. Opposite, left to right: Phyllis Mason and sons
Stephen and David compete in the 1993 Latta Plantation Triathlon in Charlotte. Below right: Phyllis Mason comes up from behind to
pass her husband, David, in the 2014 Azalea Triathlon in Wilmington.
PHOTOS COURTESY DAVID AND PHYLLIS MASON