Get in the Games: Triathlons push athletes to their limits

Jun 14, 2024, 6:04 PM | Updated: 7:06 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The combination of swimming, biking, and running make up the Olympic sport of triathlons. It’s an individual sport, but some athletes prefer training with a team.

The Salt Lake Tri Club has formed a strong community with its members. They’ve designed a fun, competitive environment that helps beginners and professionals achieve their goals.

Melanie Coles dove into triathlons after working as a lifeguard at the Draper City pool.

“I started in 2004. I don’t know if it was kind of like a joke,” Coles said.

A triathlon is a grueling multi-sport. An Olympic distance triathlon starts with a 1500-meter swim, followed by a 40-kilometer bike ride, and ends with a 19-kilometer run.

The Olympic Distance Triathlon.

The Olympic Distance Triathlon. (KSL TV)  

Coles signed up for a local race on a whim and was hooked.

“I’ve never had a coach. I’ve always been kind of self-trained,” she said.

She’s taking it more seriously these days as a member of the Salt Lake Tri Club.

“I just did St. George half and I qualified for the World Championship 70.3 in New Zealand,” Coles said.

The club caters to athletes of all abilities.

“We have athletes from brand new very beginning, getting off the couch all the way up to professional athletes,” said Rory Duckworth, the founder of the Salt Lake Tri Club.

Adam Lee coaches the athletes. He said the biggest challenge for beginners is believing in themselves.

“Everyone can do a triathlon. I’ve coached a type 2 diabetic 5 foot tall and just struggled. Never been in better shape,” Lee said.

Liz Licea has been doing triathlons for about two years. She started training and competing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I ended up winning podiuming a lot of the local races, not just here in Utah but also in San Diego, California where I’m originally from,” Licea said.

She’s a pro now, but it wasn’t always easy.

“You will have days where you just don’t want to do it. The community is what got me into it and just make it fun!” she said.

Get in the Games with Casey Scott and the Utah Badminton Association

The club pushed Coles to endure daily workouts that took her away from her family for many hours a week. But she’s reaping the rewards.

“My daughter actually wants to do her first triathlon in the fall,” Coles said.

Duckworth said to take the first step and try it out.

“Come join us and see what it’s about cause we love everyone, we accept everyone. We really just want to see people be healthy,” Duckworth said.

You can cheer on Team USA as they conquer the Seine and the streets of central Paris in the Olympic triathlon events on July 30.

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Get in the Games: Triathlons push athletes to their limits