Ten years ago, Maria “Triny” Willerton was 50 pounds overweight, unhappy with her body and dealing with mild depression after giving birth to her youngest child.
She knew she had to make a change.
So, she joined a women’s workout program at her gym and began working with a coach. Within a year she was doing half-marathons and sprint triathlons. Within three years she completed her first IRONMAN race.
Down 50 pounds and 55 inches, Willerton was hooked. Her life was rejuvenated and she found in her triathlon friends a tight bond with a group of women who empower each other.
“I have made some extraordinary friendships through this sport and I am the best and strongest version of myself because of them,” said Willerton, who lives in Boulder, Colorado.
These friendships have been the catalyst to Willerton’s involvement in the Women for Tri community, empowering women to participate in the sport of triathlon.
“They challenge me, support me, help me work through fears, build my confidence and resilience, and so much more. I am a better and happier person because of them. All women deserve to have a group of strong women supporting them and a body that gives them power and energy,” said Willerton, a mother of five who has participated in 60 triathlons.
Her goal this year was to qualify for October’s IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. The plan was to qualify at IRONMAN Boulder in June, but those plans were derailed in May when she was struck by a vehicle during a 100-mile training ride. She spent six days in the hospital with extensive injuries, including a fractured clavicle and pelvis.
Her IRONMAN dreams gone.
Or so she thought.
After her hospital stint, Willerton was awarded by the IRONMAN Foundation an exclusive slot to race in Kona, due, in part, to her dedication to growing the sport through the Women for Tri campaign.
“Absolutely thrilled” at the opportunity, Willerton has persevered through months of rehabilitation to recover from the bike crash and slowly begin training again. And though she knows Kona won’t be her fastest race, she’s just grateful to be alive, to have her health and the opportunity to compete in the sport she loves. She’s racing with the goal of raising $25,000 for Women for Tri.
“I’m really honored and thrilled to represent Women for Tri,” Willerton said. “I would love for more women to have the same opportunities I have had, and it's something I passionately dedicate my time to. I want more women to discover what it's like to feel good about their body, to feel strong, to have energy and confidence, and to realize what they're capable of when they overcome their fears.”
To donate to Willerton’s fundraising effort, visit here.