220 Triathlon


Sue Reynolds lost 90kg over five years, fell in love with tri and has competed in three ITU Worlds. Here’s her story…


Triathlon was my secret daydream. However, I never thought I’d actually do one. In 2012, I was morbidly obese. I couldn’t even tie my own shoes and had no idea that I liked sports. In five years I lost 200 pounds (90kg) through sound nutrition and exercise, I fell in love with triathlon and have done three world championsh­ip races since – it was a whirlwind.

My first ‘workout’ was walking to the neighbour’s driveway and back (about 300m) and I was close to red-lining! I kept walking slightly further each day until I could do 5km without stopping. Then, I started aqua aerobics classes and swam a few lengths. Once I’d mastered that I took a spin class and began riding my bike around the neighbourh­ood.

I found a book called When Big Boys

Tri about an overweight man who did triathlons. I figured if he did it, I could do it. I registered for my first sprint triathlon and kept everything a secret except from my husband.

On the morning of that triathlon, I was terrified – I had no idea what I was doing. In transition, I put on clothes over my bathing suit, brushed my hair and ate a sandwich. I finished dead last, but I felt like I’d won the Olympics. I was hooked!

When I first started doing triathlon as a morbidly obese person, my coach saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself and then helped me see those things too. My original goal was to be an alternate [reserve] for Team USA at the Worlds. He said, ‘Let’s not be an alternate, let’s make the team.’ His belief in me inspires me to reach his expectatio­ns.

In Gold Coast, I was eighth in my age-group, I did a lifetime PB in the swim and I had a really good bike – sprint triathlons aren’t draft-legal in the USA so that’s quite new for me. But I wasn’t able to get into a group, because I was going faster than they were! The run is always the challengin­g part for me. I held it together and I was pleased because I run with power and I ran the whole 5km at threshold pace.

“I love how we all celebrate one another’s accomplish­ments”

I love encouragin­g people to do triathlon, and I love sprints because it’s a multipurpo­se distance – you can be side-by-side with beginners. I, like others, train seriously and competitiv­ely, and it’s good to be out there on the course with people who are nervous and excited because they haven’t done one before.

The triathlon community is truly unique. Witnessing how everyone celebrates each other’s dreams and accomplish­ments. The support was immensely helpful as I strived to transform my life. In transition before a race, I always feel like I’m in the happiest place on earth.


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