This is the Grand Rapids Triathlon’s fourth consecutive year hosting the USAT Clydesdale and Athena National Championship. Men weighing 220 lbs or more and Women weighing 165 lbs or more from all over the country will gather in Ada this weekend to determine the reigning champions in each distance of our event. One of those athletes didn’t have to travel very far to join us, in fact, our race course is just a short walk from where she works for our Title Sponsor Amway as a Senior Business Systems Analyst.
Katie Stanley has been participating at the GR Tri for a few years now. Her first experience with triathlon was back in 2014, standing on the shores of the Thornapple River, watching her cousin and brother’s girlfriend participate. “I vividly remember watching the participants enter the water and I looked at my husband and said, ‘I’m doing this next year!’” That next January, Katie started her training by getting in the pool and teaching herself how to swim. “I honestly fell in love with the training program and the constant change of disciplines. Since 2015 I have been training for one race or another.”
Still to this day, crossing that finish line for the first time at GR Tri in 2015 is Katie’s race highlight moment. “It wasn’t about placing in a category or beating a time I had set for myself, it was truly all about being out on the course and proving to myself that I could do this. I try to remember that moment every time I start a race. As athletes, we are very lucky to be able to do what we do, and it’s easy to take it for granted. The pure joy of crossing the finish line started and kept me on a journey that I never imagined.”
Feeling lucky and not taking the journey for granted is leading Katie to one of her race goals for 2018. She will be sharing the journey and the joy of crossing the finish line with a Captain and team of Angels at Tri del Sol this July as she participates with Team Triumph. Katie will also be tackling the Olympic course here at Grand Rapids Tri for the first time this year. Once her triathlon season wraps up for the year she’ll participate in her second half marathon at Park to Park.
Amway is a big supporter of its employee athletes in the same way that it’s been a major supporter of this event since 2014. As an employee, Katie says she’s able to use the Amway resources to help with her nutrition and development plans. They also host informational meetings for their employees on biking and running. The onsite gym and instructor lead classes make training and working out easier for Katie and other athletes who work at Amway.
While triathlon is an individual test of endurance, most triathletes know that it takes a team of support to make it to the finish line. Katie adds, “I honestly couldn’t be on this journey without the support of my family. My husband, AJ, along with our two kids, Samantha and Nata, are always there to see me cross the finish line. They push me when I‘m down and celebrate with me when I have a fantastic workout or race. Along with family, this sport is all about community and finding friends along the way that train with you and make you better. Lori, Lisa, and Jess have been instrumental in my journey along with all of the members of my tri team, Michigan Awesome.” Good luck to Katie and all our Athena/Clydesdale athletes competing in their National Championship this weekend.