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Best of 2019: Top Member-Submitted Moments

By Nick Hehemannn, USA Triathlon | Dec. 17, 2019, 3:47 p.m. (ET)

The end of 2019 gives us the opportunity to reflect on an amazing year in the world of triathlon. Through our Best of 2019 series, we’ve been doing just that — compiling our favorite photos, videos, quotes, and more from the multisport community.

We wanted to give you that same opportunity. Here are some of the best moments of the year, from the words of our members themselves.

My Kids Cheering for me on Mother’s Day

My favorite triathlon moment of 2019 was the Kansas City Triathlon on Mother’s Day.  I had been training throughout the winter, balancing triathlon with a full-time job, raising a family, and getting my PhD.  To help with the balance, my kids (ages 6 and 8) started doing some training with me; we would go on light jogs together or listen to their favorite music on stationary bikes in our basement.  Over time, their interest in the sport piqued as well.  On Mother’s Day, they stood outside in chilly Midwest May weather to cheer me on in my first race of the season.  They were there to give me high-fives at every corner and made neon green signs to match my tri kit.  At the end of the race, I was met with big hugs and cheers of pride from my kids.  Their excitement for helping me accomplish my goals was the best Mother’s Day gift ever! I’m also delighted to report that I got to return the favor two months later, cheering on both of my sons at their own triathlon! — Carey Anne Wheelhouse

Getting Engaged at the Finish Line

Triathlon is what brought us together. We live on separate continents but come together to race. Hawai’i is the halfway point between us, and I couldn’t wait to see and to race with my love. I was so excited that he would be at the finish line waiting for me for one of our flying tackle hugs. As soon as I finished, I sprinted into his arms and he placed the medal around my neck. But then he walked me to the open area behind the finish line. I heard the announcer call attention to us. That I’m from Michigan and he’s from Australia. And as he dropped to his knee, Tristan asked me to allow him the honor of being my husband. Of course, I said yes! We’re going back to Hawai’i next year to race again and get married! Long distance is hard, but as the saying goes, “anything is possible.” Someone once told us to “find the love in it,” and I’m happy to say that we did! — April Kahgee

My Daughter Discovering her Love of Triathlon after Gymnastics

2019: it is so hard to put into words how much this photo means to our family! This is my 13-year-old daughter, Gretchen, completing a super sprint triathlon at Trifest for MS in Bentonville, Arkansas, on Aug. 31.  

Little background: Gretchen had been a gymnast for 10 years. She had goals set and plans for herself in the sport laid out for years. In April of this year, with very little warning, the sport was taken away from her due to a back injury. Doctors told her absolutely no gymnastics but recommended swimming. She was ultimately cleared to do any sport other than gymnastics, but early on that made no difference to her. She was devastated.

We immediately put her in swimming at the doctor's recommendation and she liked it OK, but her sparkle was gone. She spent most days just sitting on the couch utterly lost. Finally, out of frustration, I told her I needed to get in shape too. I signed us up for a 5k and told her I needed her help to train. We started training and I saw glimpses of sparkle, but we weren't quite there yet.

We trained through the summer for runs and she was on a summer swim team, but she still felt something was missing. She came to me in June and asked if she could do triathlons...we wondered if she had lost her mind. Due to her strenuous gymnastic schedule, I believe her time on a bike throughout her lifetime could be added not in hours but minutes.  Although I started to say no, something about the determination in her face made me ask why. Her answer? “Because I need a challenge, I need something hard ... I just need this.” So, off to the bike shop we went, as I wondered if we were making a big mistake. 

Flash forward and I can't believe the love she has for this sport. It has been life changing for all of us. I am in better shape and even my husband (who does not run at all) did two 5ks with us this year. She has been so inspiring, and her comeback is amazing, and we owe it all to the sport of triathlon. She has an excitement for training and competing that we thought we would not see again. But, most importantly, training for triathlons has brought about hope in all aspects of her life again and we are so thankful. Although I have tried to explain this moment, I still believe her face in the picture says it all. — Katie House

Winning Age Group Nationals and Celebrating with my Dad

2019 had already been a successful season by the time August rolled around. After a difficult race at the first day of USAT Age Group Nationals, I had high hopes for the sprint race. It was one of those days that everything just seemed to work. Crossing the finish line and hearing I had won the race overall was shocking, but when I finally got to hug my dad who had made the trip to Cleveland, that was overwhelming. This was a moment we both earned! — Travis Wood

Celebrating my Friend’s First Half IRONMAN

I got to watch my friend, Danielle Collins, finish her first 70.3 and she let me place the medal on her. Danielle joined Stellar Endurance earlier this year and we became fast friends and training partners. Augusta was her first 70.3 distance race. I went up with her to be her “Sherpa”/cheerleader. She crushed her race and afterward she asked me to medal her. I got to place the medal on her and tell her how proud I was for how hard she raced. Pretty sure we were both crying here. We both were caught up with the emotion of such a huge accomplishment. — Courtney Cappello

Overcoming Adversity to Have a Great Race with my Son

In the early spring, I experienced a major setback, having been diagnosed with five blood clots in my lungs.  Determined and impatient, I started training as soon as I was able so I could complete three IRONMAN 70.3’s this summer.  But my favorite (race and moment of the year) was definitely the MiamiMan Multisport National Championships. After taking second in the aquathlon on Saturday (making Team USA for the first time), I returned on Sunday to win my second national championship in the aquabike.  After getting down from the podium and catching my breath, I then watched my 13 year-old son, Austin, win the long-course duathlon as the only finisher under 20 and the youngest competitor in any event.  We had a heck of a weekend road trip, taking home three finisher medals — two silvers, and two golds! — Scott Conway

A note from USA Triathlon: Scott’s story is awesome — an inspiring story of triumph, overcoming a health issue and returning to training after being cleared by his doctors. And the story is a great reminder: are you healthy, fit and fully prepared for your next multisport challenge? Make sure you visit your doctor for a physical examination with an emphasis on heart health before participating in your next event. Learn how to Check Yourself by visiting usatriathlon.org/safety.

Racing on my Birthday Weekend

The best way to celebrate my birthday this past September was “jumping into another year,” at the Malibu Triathlon in the aquabike event. From the beautiful beach, ocean swim, to riding out and back on the sunny Pacific Crest Highway in California, this race event is a must do for everyone!  A day at the beach and racing are two of my favorite things that made for a perfect birthday. 2019 was truly a celebration of everything I love about the sport of triathlon — from racing events across the country, to coaching and spectating. I participated in my very first triathlon at the age of 17 when triathlon was truly starting to emerge in the early 80s. I’m not sure I could have ever believed at that time that I would still be “stepping to the line,” now into my 50s. My heart was filled with so much happiness on this day as I raced, embracing every mile and saying to myself, “heck yes I’m out here doing this!”  There is no better feeling to realize and believe that anything is possible when you find a way to get there. Let’s all keep reaching for that finish line. There are no limits! — Valerie Plant