Cole Bunn figured last summer he would make a pretty decent triathlete.

He was a state qualifier in swimming. He was a good runner, too. Mountain biking looked fun. So, Bunn signed up for his first off-road triathlon in July 2012 at age 16.

By late October, three months after his debut, Bunn was racing against the world’s best off-road triathletes at the XTERRA World Championship in Hawaii.

“Honestly, I don’t believe it looking back on it now,” said Bunn, now a 17-year-old senior at Bettendorf High School.

This week, Bunn returns to the site of his breakout performance a year ago for the 2013 XTERRA USA Championship in Utah. Last September at nationals— in just his third triathlon and six weeks after his debut— Bunn finished second in his age group and fifth overall among amateurs in the 1.5k swim, 29k mountain bike and 10k trail run at Snowbasin Resort just north of Salt Lake City.

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