Max Fennell

Max Fennell always knew he belonged, always knew he was going to be a professional athlete. At the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon early on Sunday, June 7, he clung one-handed to the railing of the San Francisco Belle sternwheeler boat, shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the pros, then dived out into the water as everyone piled off the boat.

Muscles toned and mohawk bleached blond from countless hours spent training in swimming pools, Fennell blends in. Almost. He stands out, too. Just four of the 2,000 pro and amateur competitors in San Francisco were African-American, and when Fennell received his pro card in September last year, he became the first ever African-American professional triathlete.