West Plains WunderWoman Triathlon (August 7)

Looking for a team-building activity for my female colleagues several years ago, I suggested that we form three-person relay teams to compete in the annual WunderWoman Triathlon. Twenty-four ladies signed up, and it was the first triathlon for nearly all of us. Throughout the summer, we swam, biked, and ran together and separately to prepare for the event. I was the designated cyclist on my team, but a couple weeks before the race, I went over the top of my handlebars and broke my wrist. My team’s runner and I switched places at the last minute, and we all had a blast.

Marla Emde, Race Director and Co-Owner of Emde Sports, notes that almost 40 percent of WunderWoman participants each year are first-time triathletes. “For many, our sprint-distance triathlons are perfect. Women can still work, spend time with their family, gain fitness, and not have a huge time commitment toward training like some of the longer triathlons,” Emde says.

WunderWoman begins and ends at Waterfront Park in Medical Lake. There’s plenty of space, both for the the transition area between each of the three disciplines and also for the families and friends who arrive to cheer and spectate. There are two distances to choose from: sprint and Olympic. Because of its small size and lack of motor boats, Medical Lake usually offers a smooth, warm swim. On the bike course, athletes ride through the mostly flat plains to the south, encountering few technical turns; in fact, the most challenging part about the bike course can be the wind that often sweeps across the plains. The run course sends athletes around the perimeter of Medical Lake on a combination of paved trail and residential roads, finishing back at Waterfront Park. The entire course is well-marked and marshalled by volunteers. The festivities continue after the finish line. “After women cross the finish line,” Emde says, “we’ve got an athletes-only Racer Recovery Lounge with free massages, stretching options, refreshments, and a rose for each participant. We’ll have even more pamperings this year,” she teases.

“My hope is that the ladies enjoy triathlon or one of the disciplines involved with triathlon (running, cycling or swimming) for a lifetime,” Emde says. “If we were able to introduce them to the sport, educate them along the way, and make it a positive experience for them, then we’ve done our job well. For many, it has been a life-changing experience.” Visit wunderwomantriathlon.com for more information.//

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