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Vannata’s triathlon challenge to raise money for Pittsburgh Food Bank

For the next 31 days starting on April 20, Liberty graduate and University of Pittsburgh senior Nolan Vannata will be doing a triathlon challenge to raise money for the Pittsburgh Food Bank, which has been providing emergency food to the community during the world’s current pandemic.

“There’s a documentary called “Iron Cowboy” about someone who did 50 Ironmans in 50 days,” said Vannata as he recalled how he got the idea. “The Pittsburgh Food Bank has really long lines, and cars are backed up a mile. They could really use the money.”

For every $300 donated to the Pittsburgh Food Bank Triathlon Fundraiser through www.gofundme.com, Vannata will complete an Olympic Distance Triathlon, which consists of a 0.9 mile swim, a 24.9 mile bike ride, and a 6.2 mile run.

“My plan is to do these triathlons on consecutive days until the ceiling of what we raised is reached, stopping it at 31 days,” he said.

Since pools are closed, Vannata will do a 25 minute at-home workout. Weather-permitting, Vannata plans to bike outside but is using an online cycling platform called Zwift in case he’s forced to ride indoors.

“Pittsburgh is known for its steep hills and potholes, but I have a power meter on my bike that shows how hard I’m riding indoors. It’s pretty similar to how fast I’m going outside,” he said.

All of Vannata’s running will be done outside.

Vannata can be followed at www.strava.com/athletes/2374447 where he will be uploading all his activities throughout the 31 days.

Vannata is an exercise science major and was nearing completion of his internship with Robert Morris University’s strength and conditioning team when the coronavirus forced a Pennsylvania state shutdown of in-school learning and nonessential businesses.

He was scheduled to graduate the weekend of April 25.

“There won’t be a ceremony, but there may be a smaller ceremony in a few months,” said Vannata, who will be staying in Pittsburgh for the summer. “I would like to get into coaching endurance athletes, but that’s a nonessential business, so I’m not sure about jobs right now.”

Vannata is a 2016 graduate of Liberty where he was the District XI Class 3A boys champion in the 100 breaststroke. He was also part of the 200 free relay team that won district gold, and the 200 medley relay team that won district gold and broke Liberty’s school record.

Donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/f/pittsburgh-food-bank-triathlon-fundraiser.