Top: David and Phyllis after competing in the 1995
Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
Above: Granddaughter Ansley Mason shows her support
at the 2017 Bridge to Pier Triathlon in Oak Island. Top
right: One of the finishers’ medals earned by Phyllis
Mason at Kona.
PHOTOS COURTESY DAVID AND PHYLLIS MASON
The sport has produced
much more than awards,
bragging rights and healthy
bodies, Phyllis says. It gave
her lifelong memories with
her family that they continue
“I ALWAYS have flashbacks
of freshman year in high
school when the teacher
asked me if I beat my
mom in the Wrightsville
Beach Triathlon. I sheepishly said ‘no’ and
the whole class exploded. I remember one
of the varsity football starters going crazy saying
something like, “Your mom beat you? If I couldn’t
beat my mom I don’t know if I could live with myself.” It was hor-rifying
at the time, but I laugh about it looking back — she would
have easily beaten anyone in that class,” he said.
Phyllis remembers training with her husband, David, and two sons,
David and Stephen. They would go on “fun” 30-mile rides on Earth
Cruisers. While training, they would order four large pizzas and fin-ish
every single bite. On race days, she would pack up her Chevrolet
Suburban with her husband, the back seats jam-packed with four
large bicycles, and head out together. They first raced the triathlon
at Wrightsville Beach; then they began to travel all over the state and
beyond for a series of races every summer, from Goldsboro to Raleigh
to Charlotte and beyond.
“We’d pull up to a race and everybody knew who we were,” Phyllis
said. “The race director would always say, ‘You’re putting my kids
“Those race fees were not cheap,” she laughed.
But the price tag was well worth Phyllis’s effort of leading by
example for her children to ensure they lived a healthy, active lifestyle
— something Phyllis once lost sight of.
“I got quite heavy when we first moved here and had the two chil-dren,”
she explains. “I was stuck at home… I became very sedentary
for the first time in my life. I was not able to go out and really get out
and get a workout in.”
So when her husband, a doctor, decided to start working out, she
decided to join him.
“I needed to start running because I had a bad family history of
all the men dying at young ages,” David said. “Phyllis had gone from
putting me through medical school — she was a chemist — to mov-ing
down here and scrubbing toilets and changing diapers and being
trapped in the house. So, when I started running, I would come back
to the house and say, ‘tag, you’re it,’ and then she would go run.”
The training started out with just running, but their friends urged
them to think about triathlons. Phyllis was a lifelong swimmer, so she
WBM may 2019