urprise of all surprises, the “girl next door” was gracious in her response when congratulated on the Ironman Hall of Fame induction.
“I didn’t do what I do because of wanting to get accolades like that, but it’s a nice way to reflect on things I’ve done in the past,” she says. “I think that’s the biggest thing. You do what you do, you go through the motions and you have fun with it. When you finish you’re able to reflect on it. Something like this makes you appreciate what you did more.”
It should also not come as a surprise that Fuhr has seamlessly moved from a career as an athlete to one within the sport.
“The last year I raced here I didn’t make it very far out on the bike and said ‘uhuh,’” she said during an interview in Kona last October. “I had given so much of myself on this course and it takes so much of yourself to be out there. You have to be in a certain place mentally and I wasn’t there anymore. Physically I probably could have done it, but mentally I wasn’t willing to put my body through that anymore. I was fine with that. Yeah, it was emotional, but I was OK with it. I was happy with everything that I had done and ready to move on. An easy part for me was that I was involved in the sport in another way already. I had already started working with NA sports at that time. I was still involved in the sport. Had I not still been involved with the sport it would have been a lot more difficult.”
Nowadays you’ll see Fuhr bouncing around at the various Ironman world championship events, taking care of the VIPS and the pros. She seems happiest when she’s out of the limelight, but every now and again, if you look carefully, you’ll have a chance to see her in exactly the same light that intern saw her in 2006.
A month after the infamous “she’s so beautiful” quote I got to work with Fuhr when we hosted the video coverage of the inaugural Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Five minutes into the show our earpieces crackled with the news that the helicopters couldn’t get up, so there would be limited coverage of the race action for the first few hours of the show. It became the “Kevin and Heather talk show” as we killed time with race reports and anecdotes about the racers. I was astounded at just how good Fuhr was in this role – if she had wanted it, a career in broadcasting could easily be in the cards.
The thing is that the “girl next door” moniker misses out on one critical aspect of what makes Heather Fuhr so much more than just a cute, wholesome, unassuming gal from Alberta: a sense of grace that she can turn on and off at a moment’s notice. This is a woman who won the beer mile put on by a bunch of the San Diego tri crowd on New Year’s Eve in 2004, chugging four beers and running a mile in just over seven minutes. This is also the woman you’ll often see handing out the awards at the Ironman World Championship in a form-fitting dress and heels, all the while gently coercing age groupers and pros alike to the right place on the stage. But make no mistake, when it came to racing, Fuhr held nothing back.
“She is very quiet, but deep down she has a lot of drive and, through sport, she was able too show this quality,” says Frey. We all got to see that one year as Fuhr started the marathon at Ironman Lake Placid in the midst of an incredible rainstorm. The water running down Main Street as she ran out of T2 was more than six inches deep and everything around looked like a mucky mess. Fuhr couldn’t have cared less. There was a race to be won.