In the Spotlight – Eric Burnett

eric burnett 7When we first learned about Eric and his constant balancing of priorities in his career, personal life and athletic endeavors we decided his story is worth sharing.

As long as Eric can remember, he has been running.

Pittsburgh club soccer and baseball leagues were his first introduction to how running is applied to competition. It was not long before summer camps and inter-school district activities introduced him to track and field.  Fox Chapel High School was where Eric became hooked into endurance activities. And yet his love for running was a slow burn. Due to his equivalent passion for theatrical performance, Eric found himself dividing his extracurricular time between the road and the stage.

Although he logged some decent results, limited amount of training kept Eric from qualifying for a state championship in cross-country or track. When high school ended, it seemed that Eric’s days on the track were over as well.

Still, his passion for competition and athletic achievement burned. Eric went on to enroll as a Theater Arts major at the University of Pittsburgh where he attempted to join the cross country team as a freshman walk-on. Once again, juggling priorities proved to be a recipe for failure. Although Eric did not make the squad his freshman year, he had established friendships within the team.  Those friends would motivate him to finally prioritize running. Eric trained harder and smarter than he ever had. In the fall of his senior year, Eric began competing as an official member of Pitt’s Cross Country and Track Field rosters.  During 2007, Eric became the captain of the University of Pittsburgh Cross Country team. He was proud to wear the blue and gold and his results on the track reflected his spirit.

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When it came time to walk away from Pitt with his diploma, Eric was not ready. He came back for a 5th year to compete in a red-shirt season; this time as a scholarship athlete. It was another successful athletic year for Eric. More importantly, it was the year that introduced him to his soon-to-be wife, Erinn who competed in the heptathlon for the Panthers. Fate, perhaps?

Still driven by his passion, Eric continued to compete in open track meets and road races post-collegiately. He was gearing up for his first marathon when a dual inguinal hernia sidelined him. He underwent a successful surgery before moving out to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film. The spikes were “hung up,” but not for long.

Within two years of living in Southern California, Eric’s pursuit of a niche in the film industry had been completely replaced by the desire to excel as a triathlete. Eric’s body responded well to the “cross-training” sport. Working and training alongside coach Scott Chaney (Volt Multisport), Eric slowly but surely dropped his times and climbed the ranks.

Eric Burnett 2Some of Eric’s more notable achievements are:

  • 2011 USAT Sprint Triathlon National Champion (25-29)
  • 2013 USAT Standard Distance Duathlon National Champion (Overall)
  • 2013 USAT Duathlon 1st Place All-American (25-29)
  • 2012, 2013, & 2014 USAT Triathlon All-American (25-29 & 30-34)
  • 2013, 2014, & 2015 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Qualifier
  • 2015 2nd Amateur overall Challenge Knoxville Half (2015)
  • 2015 2nd Overall USAT Duathlon Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship
  • 2015 5th Overall Pittsburgh Great Race 5k (15:13)
  • 2015 25th Pro Male IRONMAN 70.3 Miami

 

In 2015, two of his dreams were brought to life when Eric returned home to the city that raised him and qualified for professional status in both triathlon and duathlon.

Pittsburgh has always been where Eric has wanted to land and continue to grow roots. This year he will be joining Team Novacare Cycling to take on yet another sport as they race the high-octane criterium format of road cycling.

Amidst all of this, Eric runs his own event production company, Fireside Events LLC. He produces and DJ/MC’s weddings, school events, and corporate/private parties. Eric continually strengthens his connection to this community and scratches that “performance itch” that has never left.

Eric is in a very happy place right now and we are honored to feature him “In the Spotlight”. You can also learn more about Eric by reading his blog.

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We believe that Eric shows us you don’t have to give up on your athletic goals even when juggling priorities seems daunting. Eric overcame many obstacles on his journey, but never lost sight of his inner drive to compete. We know his momentary hiatus from competing in endurance activities is exactly that, just a small pause to take time to enjoy some additional and perhaps finer things in life.

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