Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
We asked for your help to find the most amazing of our Triathlete members for our annual cover contest. And you all came through—sharing stories of everyday members growing the sport, giving back to their communities, using triathlon to overcome obstacles, and exemplifying the tri-life. Each of these seven athletes deserves to be on our cover—but we can only pick one.
Read their stories below and then vote for your favorite. Voting closes Saturday, May 1 at 11:59 p.m. MT. Votes will be combined with editors’ picks to determine the winner. Please only vote one time.
Full rules available here.
“I was a pretty good high school swimmer who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was 24 years old. I struggled to work out and to stay in shape. As I’ve aged, I’ve used triathlon to keep my self in shape and to keep healthy. Now in my 50s, it is a constant battle to keep myself properly nourished and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Tri keeps me motivated and I love the tri community!
I’m always encouraging friends to just ‘tri’ it. I’ve done numerous relay events with friends who can’t do the swim, or the bike, or the run, and need someone to help them get it done. I also take great pride in thanking all of the police officers and the volunteers during races—I’m under no illusion that I’m going to win, so I try to have fun and just enjoy the day.”
“I was a triathlete before becoming a paratriathete. And I’m now a Paralympic hopeful, racing all over the U.S. and looking to go to France 2024.
I had a horrible accident where I lost my hand and I was paralyzed for months. But, that’s in the past. Now I am a PTS5 competing next to Chris Hammer (!) and other Paralympians. I spend a lot of time explaining our para world to able bodies. I volunteer my time with universities around my area too that need patient models. And I also advocate safe driving to local high schools.
As a triathlete I learned a lot about how to be patient and be strong, something I used then when healing from my accident. After physically and mentally healing, it was time for a comeback to triathlon. As a paratriathete now I love our community and our support for each other. We are still athletes and we are still here. At the end is not how you fall down in life, it’s how you get up that matters.”
“Triathlon changed my life. As a girl growing up in a very restricted Southern culture, who could do more pull-ups and run faster than the boys, I was discouraged from pursuing sports. In an effort to fit in, I turned my back on sport. However, when I discovered triathlon my senior year of college, the love of pushing myself to my limits was reignited. I found a community where I was respected. Then, nearly six years ago, I was hit by a car while riding and suffered severe injuries. The physical pain was excruciating, but the emotional agony of trying to figure out what my life would look like in the aftermath was worse. How was I going to handle graduate school, a move, and the start of a marriage when I could not take a shower by myself? How was I going to go from an elite athlete to someone bed-ridden with an uncertain prognosis? I faced down these questions and kept working in the face of the unknown because I knew one thing for sure: I loved being an athlete. But I didn’t get better alone. I couldn’t have recovered if I had not received an outpouring of support from my community. It would be an honor to share my story with the wider triathlon community to hopefully inspire and encourage others that anything is possible.
During graduate school, I helped to coach and support youth triathlons. I have also appeared on the TrainerRoad Successful Athletes podcast to raise awareness of disordered eating within the sport. Currently, I am proud to be a member of the GRIT USA triathlon team in Washington, DC, whose focus is on increasing diversity in endurance sports, where I have directly supported this mission by contributing to a grant for funding for triathlon clinics for low-income youths.”
Written by Mark’s nominator: “Mark has one of the biggest hearts and he is an amazing athlete! He truly cares about the growth of the sport of triathlon. He has raced short-course and long-course—most notably, he raced and finished St. George 70.3, despite the crazy weather that the participants had to endure. Mark truly figures out how to balance family, work, and training.
Mark had a vision to bring the sport of triathlon back to Cleveland! He is the founder of Tri CLE Rock Roll Run. The inaugural race took place in 2021, in the midst of many uncertainties with COVID-19. Tri CLE highlights short-course racing with beautiful views of Cleveland. Not only did Mark create this race, but he founded the Kids That Tri program. This program is free for youth in Northeast Ohio to learn the sport of triathlon without having to worry about the costs of participating in the sport.”
Written by Julie’s nominator: “Julie is at the nexus of our local run club. Our small town’s athlete base has grown dramatically on account of her encouragement, confidence-inspiring motivation, and camaraderie. As a non-athlete to start, Julie found common ground with everyone around her—a desire to explore our beautiful town of Lemont, and to do so for fitness and self-improvement.
Inspired by “Finding my Voice,” by Mike Reilly, she went on her own personal journey to being an Ironman. She did so last summer in Tulsa, and since then has helped encourage dozens of our local run club friends to not just participate in endurance sports, but to race in 70.3 and 140.6 races. Julie is selfless when it comes to her time given to make those around her feel both included and capable.
Aside from her constant local promotion of our endurance events, Julie volunteers at every race that her friends are doing when she isn’t racing herself. She’s insistent on being a friendly face and to serve the race and community.”
Written by Teddy’s nominator: “Teddy’s been a staple member of the Team Triathlete community since the launch. He encourages racers at all levels, welcomes in new members every time they join, has weekly (if not daily) questions, and he keeps everyone motivated. I’ve never met him in person, but he feels like a long-time race friend and I know I’m not the only person who feels that way. He’s had his own racing journey and shared it openly and he’s just a solid member of the tri community. He remains positive and uplifting to total strangers daily and treats them like they are life-long friends. He shows respect and care for fellow athletes and that’s the connection people seek out in the tri community.”
“Like Lionel Sanders, triathlon saved me. I am a recovering alcoholic and self-harm abuser. When I first got sober I didn’t know how I would ever be able to stay that way. Enter triathlon. It gave me a goal, something to keep me occupied and a healthy kind of pain.
When I have a bad day, instead of reaching for the bottle, I jump on my bike or go for a run. If I saw me now five years ago I wouldn’t recognize myself!”