Inspired by Aunt Linda

Me and Linda biking together at a triathlon in Virginia in 2016

Growing up, I remember hearing stories about my Aunt Linda doing the Ironman in Hawaii twice during the 1980’s and although I had no idea what an Ironman really entailed, I was always extremely impressed.  Funny enough, my mom and my grandma have always mixed me and Linda up, and I’ve always been honored by that mix-up because Linda is not only a kind and caring person, she is also a total badass.  If it wasn’t for my Aunt Linda, I may never have discovered triathlon, so I owe a lot to her.

Linda and me on the run during a triathlon we did together in Virginia

This past weekend, Linda towed the line at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, and it turned out to be the most challenging year of the event in recent history.  There was so much mud on the mountain bike course that even the professional athletes were walking their bikes for much of the course.  One of the announcers described it as “slick as snot out there” and said it was “like a dog running around on a freshly waxed floor.”  Athletes broke bones in every discipline – swim, bike, and run – which is unheard of in most races.  It was possibly the toughest day in triathlon history.  Watching the live stream of the event showed that everyone finishing was covered from head to toe in mud and sweat and tears and elation for finally being done.

Linda finished this beast of a race and continues to impress me with her toughness and perseverance, and although I have no desire to do this race anytime soon, I do hope I can take her strength and story of triumph with me as I continue my triathlon career.

Below is a recount of Linda’s experience in her own words.

“Race Report – So the day started with a 1 mile ocean swim. But the gentle waves from the days before turned into 8-12 foot waves. The swim course was an out and back then a short run on the beach to swim out and back again. However, given the size and power of the waves, this was a super difficult swim – coming into the shore for the first leg, I got thrown to the bottom and somersaulted around at least three times before making it to shore. Then when going back out, I got slammed by a big wave that ripped my goggles off. One of the spectators saw a floating pair of goggles so grabbed them for me, but they weren’t mine and didn’t fit so I had to swim breaststroke out and back in because they leaked so bad. Then I got to go through the same ordeal trying to get out of the water with a few moments of wondering if I was going to make it as I kept getting slammed by waves and doing lots of somersaults. But, I finally crawled out onto shore and began the second part of the race – a 20 mile hike with your mountain bike ride because of the mud – oh my the mud – unbelievable and the climbs were tremendous – hence the the hike with your bike. I fell 12 times, twice into a tree. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally made it back to transition only to turn around to do a 6.5 run hike right back up the volcano with all the mud, roots, rocks etc. I only fell twice on the run. I finally made it back – where the finish took us through the sand on the beach and back up a steep hill to the finish. All my goals went out the window when I lost my goggles so it was all about survival which I can say I did. 😊” 

Linda at the finish of the XTERRA World Championship in 2018

Linda continues to impress, and I’m so proud of her for tackling this challenge and showing it who is the boss!


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