Renoite Phillip Glenn trains for Nevada Passage
It’s a made-for-TV story for which he successfully auditioned, but Reno’s Phillip Glenn is no actor. He’s a real estate agent turned emergency medical technician turning paramedic. In his free time, Glenn is a bona-fide triathlete, something that will serve him well as he goes for top honors in the third season of Nevada Passage, May 8-12.
To win, Glenn and his female partner—whose identity will not be revealed to him until competition begins with the Stage 1, Desert 10K in Southern Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park—will have to outrun, out-dune-buggy, out-cycle, out-ski and outdo last year’s winners, Linda Lindsay and Nate Simonson of Team Accountant. With 10, two-person, coed teams kicking up dust from Amargosa Dunes and Rhyolite to Tonopah, Goldfield and Mount Rose, Nevada Passage is as much a tour of the state’s geographic gems as it is a test of teamwork, stamina and endurance.
The Texas-born Glenn became a Nevadan at the age of 3. Today, at age 30, he looks relaxed and fit in jeans and a black, MafiaRacing.com T-shirt. He’s enjoying a cup of tea while Saba, his half-Akita, half-Husky, lazes at Glenn’s feet, which have roamed a few continents.
“Growing up, we traveled quite a bit, so I guess I have always had that sense of adventure for new places and new people,” Glenn says from his Southwest Reno home, where photos of his domestic and international adventures adorn the walls. While Glenn possesses a natural competitive edge—a trait that will serve him well in Nevada Passage—he says it’s not so much personal as it is about personal best.
“I was in gymnastics when I was young, and I think that instilled that sense of competitiveness, but I don’t really feel super competitive when I’m out there racing,” he says. “It’s more of a race against yourself. Some people are real gung-ho, and they really compare themselves to other people. It’s hard not to. It comes naturally, but I don’t feel as competitive as I did when I was younger, where I just wanted to beat everybody. It’s that self-satisfaction and self-accomplishment, when you’re steadily improving your performances, year in and year out. That’s part of what I enjoy.”
Glenn says he “stayed active” playing high school football, yet he still preferred the less structured, individual pursuits of kayaking, snowboarding and bicycling during his years at the University of Puget Sound, where he earned a degree in psychology. Returning to Reno, he worked as a mental health counselor for two years, then the son of real-estate agents Mark and Clemencia Glenn followed in his parents’ footsteps.
“Something didn’t click with real estate for me,” he says. “I applied myself initially, and I got sort of burnt-out. I took some time off and went to Australia, traveled and raced down there. I did my first Ironman down there, back in 2004. When I came back [to Reno], I thought, ‘I’m gonna give commercial real estate a shot again.’”
Though Glenn enjoyed working with his father that time around, he admits the profession “was never very rewarding for me. I realized I wasn’t really applying myself. In a job like that—where you’re your own boss—you’ve gotta work hard. If you don’t, then it’s not going to be lucrative. I made enough to support my racing addiction, and it enabled me the freedom and time to go and race.”
Taking advantage of EMT courses offered by Reno’s REMSA, Glenn earned his certification, and he is just embarking on another long road: becoming a full-fledged paramedic. His drive and determination, coupled with self-discipline, will be worthy investments as he learns to save lives, as well as his strength, for such demanding endeavors.
Scott Young, a Reno coach who’s known Glenn for six years and is integral to his fitness training, figures Glenn has a good shot at claiming this year’s title as the winner of Nevada Passage.
“He’s a good athlete,” Young says. “He has progressed over the years and gotten better and better. He’s a good mountain biker, and he’s got good endurance and strength. It depends on who he’s paired with. He’ll keep up his end of the bargain, I’m sure. [Glenn] is one of the top XTerra athletes. He trains almost year-round, so he should be more than ready for that. He races throughout the year and is in good condition. He’s got a good chance based on his current fitness, so he’s prepared for anything.”
100 percent effort
Nevada Passage is an amateur competition produced by the Honolulu-based company XTerra, which also produces the XTerra triathlons Glenn’s participated in, so they were familiar with the lean, 5-foot, 9-inch Renoite when his audition videotape hit their desks.
Last year’s winning duo included Glenn’s old roommate, Simonson, who’s unable to defend his title now that he’s joined the Air Force. Glenn was on the sidelines as a spectator then, and the show’s producers took advantage of his presence by having him run through the backcountry for a few establishing shots. Those taped takes gave Glenn a taste of what to expect as a competitor this year. But he’s discovering that for the bicycling portion of the show, the bike, the shoes and the helmet will be provided, so there’s no relying on his own, old-faithful equipment to carry him through. Now, Glenn’s preparations are as much on mental focus as they are physical.
“I’m not doing anything specific for Nevada Passage,” he says. “I just continue with my training for triathlons. Scott’s got me on a program—swimming, biking, running, lifting a little weights. I’ve always enjoyed sports but never been so committed to anything. So I surprise myself, really. You realize you’re going to have to make sacrifices to improve yourself and your performance. It’s rewarding when you see that, so the commitment is fairly easy, but it does get tiring at times. Sometimes I’d like to sit on the couch when I know that I have to go do a bike ride or run. The positives outweigh the negatives.”
On that note, Glenn’s lovely girlfriend, Jamie Cherry, 24, drops by and joins him on the backyard deck, with songbirds and spring flowers as perfect props.
“It’s gonna take a 100 percent effort for every event,” Glenn says of his strategy for winning Nevada Passage. “I’m not going to worry about it too much. I’m just going to take it in stride, encourage a really healthy, dynamic relationship with my partner, so we can smash ourselves to bits and see if we can win … bragging rights. It’s not anything you can really prepare for. You get paired with somebody, you do the best you can, and you have fun. I think everybody’s out there to be competitive, but to have fun, too.”