Our Living Legends

2016 Pinawa Free Spirit has VIP USA TRIATHLETES - (Go to Beth's Story)

Beth and Sheila (left to right)

Sheila's Story

My husband and I immigrated to the States 50 years ago - he was working for the South African Atomic Energy Agency in Pelindaba, and we came to Long Island where he worked at Brookhaven National Lab for 47 years! I was a computer programmer/ systems analyst, most recently employed by the local utility at their nuclear power plant in Shoreham, NY. So I will feel very comfortable in Pinawa!

My triathlon "career" started when I was 53, in 1991, with NO previous athletic background. Since my starting race in Montauk I have completed 165 triathlons, 14 years focusing on doing a triathlon in each of the 50 States. As a computer nerd I ended my quest with my 100th race, 50th State - the Hawaii Ironman.

SheilaI have competed in 16 World Championships, starting in Wellington NZ to Chicago, last year. Four of these were in Canada (Montreal 1999, Edmonton 2001, Vancouver 2008, and Edmonton 2014). In 2008 Beth and I decided to compete in all 10 Provinces, no more than one per year, and explore Canada. In 2008 we did the 70.3 in Newfoundland; in 2011 we raced in Hamden, New Brunswick; in 2012 we went to Melmerby, Nova Scotia; and in 2015 we did a tri in 3 Rivers, PEI. So we have now visited 7 Provinces, with our 8th coming up soon!!!

Besides the USA and Canada, I have raced in Argentina, Australia, China, England, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, and Portugal. Missing most notably from the list is my birth country, South Africa. It is on my "to do" list after Canada.

Now I need to sleep, early swim tomorrow.


Beth's Story

My first triathlon was at age 50 in 1991 at the Hatboro, PA, YMCA. The swim was in a pool and I rode my mountain bike. Everyone that passed me yelled out, "GOOD JOB!” I ran the 5K in the same sneakers I biked with. I WON MY AGE GROUP (the only 50-54 year old female). I was totally hooked! For my second season, I got a Diamond Back Expert road bike with clipless pedals and a wetsuit - the wetsuit purchase meant I was committed for life.

From that point on I've done anywhere from 5 to 9 triathlons a season. I qualified for Worlds as an age grouper each time I went to Nationals (13 times). I’ve raced five (5) Worlds - Perth, Australia; Montreal and Edmonton, Canada; Cancun, Mexico ; London, England.

I had started running in 1984 and quickly progressed to running marathons (I’ve run 16 Marathons total). In 1989, I had a stress fracture and had pulled a calf muscle at the same time. I went to rehab for my injuries. One of the physical therapists was a triathlete - she encouraged me to learn to swim and get back on a bike. At age 49, I began to learn to swim and bought a second-hand mountain bike. I began swimming masters (having learned enough freestyle to swim the required 20 laps to get into Masters in Doylestown, PA). I started training with friends at the YMCA who were already doing triathlons. I was encouraged by their lack of injuries and the wonderful FUN they all seemed to be having.

In 1997, I went to my first National Triathlon Championships and Worlds Qualifier in Columbia, Maryland. It was there that I met the incredible group of women I still see at all the national events and Worlds.

My closest Triathlon friend is Sheila Isaacs and she and I are doing a triathlon in each Canadian Province. We try to do this every year and do see each other every year.

Beth at the Montreal (Worlds) 1999

Beth at Montreal (Worlds)  1999Now at 75, I have cranky knees, but wonderful health. My husband and moved to Maine - where we can enjoy the mountains, the ocean, lakes and fields. Here, I am one of, maybe, two or three in my age group. The wonderful news, nationally is, my age group keeps growing! We women are not dropping out as we age and, in fact, more of us just keep coming in. New people pop up on race entry lists, and we "old" ones say to each other, "Who is that? Is she good? Have you seen her? Where did she come from?" I look at what the current 50 year olds are doing and how they are looking compared to my group 12 years ago - it is AWE inspiring to see the improvement - and believe me, we were not doing or looking bad then (or now)!

My passion now is to coach others, especially men and women who have never done a Triathlon. I do this through my local YMCA, where I am the Wellness Team Coordinator. It is a wonderful thing to see scared beginners turn into confident Triathletes, and I was very much once that scared person.

My highs come from a great day training; an incredible downhill on my bike; a sudden, unexpected beautiful view or sunset; looking around at the faces of my friends at a get-together dinner after a triathlon; seeing a new triathlete cross the finish line for the first time; stretching out by a pool after a hard race; laughing in a hotel room with buddies late at night while trying to go to sleep before a race; hearing that my husband was bragging about me to someone; coming home from "being on the road"; and last, but not least, the thrill of the kick past someone as you get to that finish line!!!!!!

Triathletes (to generalize terribly) are friendly, quirky, funny, and eccentric, have eternal youth in attitude, know how to share, acknowledge and have passion; and most definitely are individuals from every walk of life. Also, don't mess with any woman triathlete - we are relentless and will reach our goals!!!!