Meet Our Coaches


Ed Zerkle, Founder & Head Coach

With an extensive background in consulting and a masters degree in business administration, Coach Ed has combined his love of triathlon with a strong business sense to build Team Z into what it is today.

With nearly two decades of coaching experience with thousands of athletes of all abilities, Ed’s focus on providing quality training plans and promoting fun, education, and team camaraderie has proven to be infectious.

Ed is a former NCAA Division 1 swimmer and successful triathlete, multiple Ironman finisher, USA Triathlon Level 1 certified coach, and former head coach for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Program.

As an admitted workaholic, Ed doesn’t have much free time. But if he did, he’d be watching football. An overzealous Virginia Tech fan, Ed enjoys watching games with his girlfriend, Talia and his loyal dog, Zoe. If you ask Ed about his greatest aspirations, he’d quickly respond with something about the pride he gets in seeing his athletes achieve their biggest dreams. But we all know the truth, Ed’s dream is to drive a Hokie colored, tricked-out F-350 pickup truck that he can call his own.

Alexis Lopez-Buitrago, Head Coach

Coach Alexis, affectionately known as “coach speedy” because of his infectious energy, came to Team Z as an accomplished triathlete, runner and coach. A Boston Marathon qualifier, Alexis has helped hundreds of athletes of all abilities cross the finish line during his time with Team Z and previously as a certified coach of the Leukemia And Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Program.

Alexis is a USA Triathlon Level 1 certified coach, American Swim Coaches Association Level 2 coach, and Ironman finisher who has also scored a perfect score on Marine Corp Personal Fitness Test, a feat very few can claim. Ask Alexis about his proudest athletic accomplishment, though, and he would be quick to tell you of his experience as a guide for the Massachusetts Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired “Team with a Vision” program for the Boston Marathon, where he helped guide a blind athlete to a third place podium finish!

A proud United States Navy veteran, Alexis enjoys spending time with his wife Anne, their children, and their grandkids. Alexis also enjoys running and attending as many U2 concerts as possible!

Ryan Pettengill, Head Coach

Coach Ryan came to Team Z with over 15 years of experience in coaching and sports management ranging from kids’ and high school programs to NCAA division I athletics. His coaching philosophy is simple: there are no athletes too experienced to learn, and no athlete that he can’t learn from!

Ryan is an ex-collegiate swim coach who has earned a masters degree in physical education with a concentration in sports management. He is a USA Triathlon Level 1 certified coach and official, Road Runners Club of America certified run coach, American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer, American Swim Coaches Association Level 2 coach, USA Cycling Level 3 licensed coach, and a multiple ironman finisher.

Aside from enjoying watching his alma mater Florida State beat Virginia Tech (see Coach Ed’s profile), Ryan enjoys spending time with his son and going to concerts with his wife Elizabeth, though his taste in music is suspect at best!


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