Simon Shi: Pro Triathlete and Rubik’s Cube Champion
Learn more about how this incredible athlete outpaces his competition, and complex puzzles
What was your sporting background?
Swimming! I've been swimming for 14 years and was a NCAA D1 swimmer at Virginia Tech, specializing in breaststroke and IM. I was also ranked top 15 nationally in Canada in several events.
How did you discover triathlon?
I graduated in May 2020 and wanted to still pursue some type of competitive sport so I could still have an active lifestyle. But I didn't want to just swim because I got bored of the pool. I found that I picked up running during Covid and started getting into triathlons. There were no intentions of going pro at that point because I had no clue about the sport.
You became a pro triathlete shortly after starting the sport. What has been the highlight race of your pro career so far?
The best race I've had was definitely 70.3 Waco in 2022. I had a strong swim and one of my best bike performances (splitting 2:08). I did cramp up and had to stop on the run, but still managed to run 1:24 for the half marathon. It showed me that with 2 years of hard work, I'm able to be in this position. Now, it's just being patient and getting as much triathlon race experience I can.
What has been your biggest lesson learned so far racing and training as a pro?
Open water racing is a lot different than pool racing. I'm able to really throw down monster sets in the pool, but I need to work on translating that to open water. I also didn't realize how "legally drafting" on the bike had so much of a difference. It's kind of fun being a part of these group dynamics and I just need more experience with that. I know what it takes to win a professional race. I realized I'm not at that point yet in my career and I'm being as patient as possible with the bike and run training. I've gotten frequent small injuries from running since I started 3 years ago, so I can't force it too much.
Your Instagram bio says you’re the “Rubiks Cube Triathlete.” What does that entail?
I started out creating a personal brand on social media as a person who does crazy Rubik's cube challenges while doing triathlons. I've solved Rubik's cubes underwater. There's a YouTube video of me solving a 17x17 Rubik's Cube all underwater which took 4 hours (video is not there). Unfortunately, my Rubik's cube YouTube channel was hacked and I'm trying to get that back. My YouTube channel had almost 1/2 million subscribers and 1/2 billion views. But luckily I still have my triathlon YouTube channel. I've also ran a 5k while completing 80+ rubik's cubes. So I'm combining 2 of my favorite hobbies: The Rubik's Cube Triathlete.
What’s the most difficult Rubik's cube/puzzle you’ve solved?
The puzzle is called an Examinx. It is a 12-sided puzzle with over 1,800 pieces. It's harder than the regular cube-shaped puzzles and has a lot of pieces. It took 6 hours to complete it.
You recently raced Ironman Texas, how did the race go?
I think it went well. Right now, each race is a learning experience since it's my 3rd season of triathlon. There is so much to learn from this sport. I made a tactical error on the swim, not being in the front pack of the swim and swimming solo. My ability to hold power for hours is getting better, which showed on the bike. I walked a lot on the last loop of the run but still had so much fun with everyone supporting me there on course and at home.
Where can we see you competing again this year?
I have a local triathlon here in Austin, Texas called CapTex Tri Olympic distance. I'll be moving to Denver, CO for a couple weeks and race 70.3 Boulder. Then come down from altitude and see what I can throw down at 70.3 Oregon!
What is your biggest goal this year?
My biggest goal is to keep learning in the sport. I know everyone wants to win, and it must be fun to win a race. But, I have so much fun with the process of training and racing. I've met a lot of super nice people in the triathlon community. So I try to give back when I can. I really want to keep learning all about the biking and running world, from run techniques, bike pedal efficiency, training for those events, and much more. The triathlon sport is still new to me and my part of the puzzle has some work to do. Since I'm really familiar with YouTube, I'd like to keep growing my triathlon brand. I want to grow and spread the triathlon sport to other people. There's definitely some work to do as a whole for the Triathlon YouTube community! Thanks for having me!