Athlete Spotlight: Clay Condon

Our spotlight today is on Clay Condon, one of our Viking brothers who loves conquering our hometown IMTX course!

NAME: Clay Condon (although USA Tri knows me as John)

WHEN DID YOU JOIN VALHALLA + VALKYRIE RACE TEAM? The end of 2022

WHEN DID YOU START TRIATHLON? May 2021
TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRIATHLON JOURNEY: I had been a cyclist in high school and some college then largely given it up in my professional life. I got into running to get down to a healthy weight, losing about 70lbs, with COVID, I started riding again and as well. My friend (and Viking) David Attwood convinced me to sign up for the Sylvan Beach Olympic in 2021. It was a rough ocean swim that got cut short mid race because the buoys were drifting in the strong waves but I was hooked. After that, I signed up for Oilman that November as a stretch goal and did well. Then I signed up for IMTX the following spring thinking I would do one full IM and be done with it. Despite heat stoke at the end, it was a good race and I qualified to go to Kona. Kona was an amazing experience and I was sure I’d wait a few years before another full. After volunteering at IMTX in 2023 I could not stay away, I signed up again for 2024 and have now accepted that I am a full-blood crazy triathlete πŸ™‚

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RACE?
I love IMTX, I live inside the run course in Panther Creek so I get to do a lot of visualizing and reminiscing in my training runs. It is great to have all the home town support in the race as well; I felt like half the course was cheering for Valhalla on the course this year:)

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THIS SPORT?
IMTX 2022 was the peak so far, I got 4th in my age group, 56th overall, and a slot to Kona. It was way more than I expected and something that I hope to be able to do again. In 2024 I was 9 mins faster but against a tougher field…always next year:)

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
The biggest challenge is finding the time. I think I’ve got a pretty efficient training program but it is still tough to carve out the time (particularly for fulls) with work and family. I find sleeping less magically creates time before anyone else wakes up; the Woodlands is a very quiet place at 4am.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE POST RACE FOOD?
Pizza and Beer for sure but really anything will do.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.
I’ve got a great family who are my #1 supporters. My wife Whalin and boys John (10) and James (😎 have been there for all the most important moments cheering me on. While the boys were upset to learn that we don’t get to go to Hawaii every year, they have faith that I’ll get back again.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL/PERSONAL LIFE.
I have worked at ExxonMobil for almost 20 years, mostly in our upstream business but have been working business development in our Low Carbon Solutions business for the last 2 years. Scott Darling is the one who pulled me over into Low Carbon and I think that has been even tougher training than Ironman but exciting to be a part of starting a new and important part of the business for us.

WHAT IS SOMETHING NO ONE WOULD EVER GUESS/KNOW ABOUT YOU?
My wife Whalin and I met when we were both living and working in Doha Qatar, She and her friends saw me and my friends across a smoky bar and thought that we were “tall and not too strange looking”, the rest is history. I also put up a few Christmas lights at my house but that is a bit more well known.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THIS TEAM?
I’ve loved the community of it. While I have a hard time making some of the group training sessions, the family and I have enjoyed the social events and the support at races.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR?
I don’t recall the last time I read a book for pleasure, most of my reading is current affairs or work-related. Back pre-kids/work/triathalon I was a big Tom Clancy and John Grisham fan.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT?
Cafe Lama in the Woodlands. Not for the food but for the experience. Whalin and I have fond memories of the middle east and enjoy sitting out on their patio for long dinners to snack on food, drink wine, smoke hooka and catch up with each other while someone else tends to the children.

WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?
That’s a tough one, I draw inspiration from many people I’ve had the pleasure to know over my life. My grandfather Jack stands out as the one person who taught me the importance of hard work, commitment, and doing the honest and right thing for yourself and those around you. He turned 99 this winter and is still active and an inspiration to me and many others.

WHAT EXCITING PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE NEXT YEAR?
We have a fun set of summer vacation plans to mountains and beaches, including a week of scuba diving in Bonaire this summer. Beyond that, I am on the fence about next races. I’ll probably do at least another half IM but toying with the idea of another full later in the season.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
I have enjoyed being a part of this team, thank you to all of those who help make it happen!