Phyllis and David Mason run the beach strand at sunrise near their Wrightsville Beach condo north of Crystal Pier in March.
figured she’d give it a shot. Their training was extensive; they tried
to do three swims, three bike sessions, three runs and three weight
sessions a week, totaling about two hours a day. Their first race,
the Wrightsville Beach Triathlon, hooked them immediately.
“It just became an addiction,” Phyllis said.
Looking at Phyllis’s resume, it would be hard to believe that she
once lost touch with her active, competitive lifestyle. The sport
has taken her to Switzerland, New Zealand, Germany, Hawaii,
Canada and beyond. She has been named the fastest woman in
her age group in New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick County for
15 consecutive years. She says she would sometimes be out of the
water a whole two minutes before everybody else and would often
pass much younger racers on her bicycle.
Phyllis was so good, in fact, that those younger racers she passed
often trained just to beat her. “I had a big target on my back,” she
laughed. “They always let me know when they finally could beat me.”
Her husband was well-known, delivering babies for many
women in town, and for years Phyllis remembers being known as
“Mrs. David Mason.” But at triathlons, David says he got a taste
of the opposite.
“She was Dr. Mason’s wife and then I was Mr. Phyllis Mason.
That was a pretty quick switch,” he laughed.
But the sport has produced much more than awards, bragging
rights and healthy bodies, Phyllis says. It gave her lifelong memo-ries
with her family that they continue to cherish.
“We felt like it was the best time of our lives when the four
of us were doing races all over the place,” David said. “Those
were good days.”
Phyllis’s oldest son, David Mason Jr., says he remembers when
his parents started competing but he was mostly interested in TV
and video games — “it just seemed like adult stuff,” he says. At
the time, he says it was an accomplishment for them just to par-ticipate.
But by the time he was in middle school, triathlons were
a major part of his parents’ lifestyle, and they were doing much
more than just participating. One day, he surprisingly agreed to go
on a bike ride with his mom, and it wasn’t long after that that he
and his brother were competing in triathlons as well.
“My life began to revolve around triathlons, too. I was a strong
swimmer and I got good at cycling. I loved it. It felt like a great
accomplishment when my triathlon times approached and then
surpassed those of my parents.”
David said he was always impressed by his parents, and the
exercise and racing soon just began to become who they were.
“I have fond memories of seeing my mom flex her biceps.”
Phyllis still exercises about two hours a day to feed her “addic-tion,”
but she has since retired from triathlons. When she thinks
about the past 33 years, she says she has nothing but gratitude for
what the sport has taught and given her.
“I have gotten so much from this sport,” she said. “It’s hard to
let it go. But it’s been a nice ride.”