SmithGroup exec relishes challenge of triathlons
It’s something in his DNA that drives Chad Schleicher to excel and not settle for simple success. It’s that drive that helped him become the director of business development with a firm like SmithGroup, one with a global reach and a history that dates back to the 1800’s.
“It’s a personality type of wanting to accomplish goals and push harder and not really be satisfied,” Schleicher said. “I don’t want to be just average and just coast through anything, I want to be the best.”
That drive and willingness to challenge himself naturally led Schleicher into doing triathlons.
Schleicher’s path to becoming a triathlete began right about the time he was working as a property accountant at Cole Capital in Phoenix. A representative from Team in Training, a fundraising organization for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, came by the office to give a presentation. Schleicher signed up for the program, along with several C-level executives.
“I started training with the people who were five rungs above me and really became friends with them,” Schleicher said. “When I look back, I believe those relationships gave me some of my better opportunities professionally.”
He completed his first Olympic-distance triathlon in 2013. Olympic triathlons are typically comprised of a 0.9-mile swim, a 24.8-mile bike ride and a 6.2-mile run. It’s that first time in the water that typically is a shock for most novice triathletes, and Schleicher felt that.
“I was well trained for the swim and you’re running in and you’re around so many bodies, a person kicked me in my nose, hard enough that it stunned me,” Schleicher said. “I remember slowing down and getting out of the way of the big rush. I had to start breaststroking just to catch my breath. It was mental. I knew I could swim it, but my brain was saying I was struggling for air.”
Schleicher made a couple other rookie mistakes during the race, including knocking over another competitors bike during the transition from the swim to the bike, and dropping his water bottle early in his 24.8-mile bike ride.
“Thought about going back to get it, decided not to,” he said. “Which was a bad decision because at the very end of it, I was dying for water.”
So far, Schleicher has finished six Olympic distance triathlons and has another one scheduled for September in Malibu. He has his eyes on competing in the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, one of the most challenging events that isn’t of Ironman distance (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run).
“Some of the people I know who’ve done it, they say the current is so strong it can take you a few hundred yards off course,” Schleicher said. “And those waters are full of great white’s and killer whales and then, obviously, San Francisco is just pure hills, so that’s what you’re biking through. That would be my pinnacle of Olympic level. I think if I did that and felt fine, I think I would try a full.”