Live Feisty, Stay Feisty
Bet On Yourself
Within the first year of becoming an elite triathlete, I won a European championship while competing for the Scottish national team. This was the early 2000’s, and coming off that race I set my sights on winning an Ironman. I thought it would take 3 years at the most.
It took me 10 years to win an Ironman.
Sometimes you’re just a hair away from that win. For a decade, I took 2nd and 3rd place in races- just enough to know that I could win an Ironman, but I hadn’t.
By 2014, I was 38 years old, I had my daughter, I had twenty top-five finishes in Ironman races, but I had zero Ironman wins. I confided in my friend that I might just accept this as my fate as a pro triathlete, and was considering retirement. Her advice: “Just train for two weeks. Don’t think about racing or competing, just do the work. Then see how you feel.”
At the end of two weeks, I was at peace. I decided to keep competing, but I dropped all expectations of winning. My next race was Ironman Brazil. I showed up with an open mind, and I took first place. I won Ironman Brazil.
Life isn’t an endless highlight reel. If I’ve learned anything so far, it’s that you must be willing to show up every day and put in the necessary work to achieve your goals. And extraordinary goals mean extraordinary work.
I plan to keep showing up.
Athlete, Academic, Leader
When I was 13 years old, my family relocated from Canada to the Middle East. I attended a small school with children from literally all over the world- we were a diverse mix of cultures. As I saw how different people lived, I grew more and more interested in the history of culture and ways of living in general. This was the spark of interest that led me to pursue my PhD in Women’s History at Edinburgh University in Scotland.
Moving to a new country also meant I focused my time on triathlon. I earned a spot on Scotland’s national team, and I believe competing for a smaller country worked to my advantage as I developed as an athlete. Competing for Scotland gave me the confidence I needed to really make a run at being a pro athlete.
From quite a young age, I felt the lack of space for women in sports. As I have grown as an athlete, and as a person, I’ve taken on increasing roles in leadership for women in sports. As the founder of Live Feisty Media, my goal is to amplify women’s voices and presence in triathlon, and to raise awareness and create opportunities for women of all levels to participate.
Intersection of Triathlete and Scholar
In 2015, I was involved in advocating for equal spots for the pro women at the Ironman World Championships. In 2011, a new qualifying system for professional triathletes for Kona had been launched. Prior to this, in my experience, every pro who deserved to be at Kona got to go. I recall competing alongside 80+ female athletes in the early 2000’s.
The new system included pre-qualifiers, an additional 50 slots for pro men, and an additional 35 slots for women. This was surprising, considering the prize money for winning Kona was the same for men and women: why wouldn’t the slots (opportunities) also be the same?
We took to Twitter, where a significant number of pro triathletes- both men and women- posted their support for sending an equal number of women and men to Kona. This made a pretty big splash in our world: we reached over 2 million people on Twitter and received some mainstream media attention.
Today in 2020, the disparity of Kona slots has yet to be corrected. In part, this is what drives me and our messaging at Live Feisty: triathlon and other sports must evolve to create more space for women.
Outspoken and Feisty
Prior to founding Live Feisty Media, I was working on a project through a nonprofit I co-founded called TriEqual. There, I met Lisa Ingarfield, who's now my co-founder on the Outspoken: Women in Triathlon Summit. Her PhD is in Intercultural Communication, and together we cultivated an interest around fostering diversity and inclusion in triathlon.
After about a year of brainstorming, Lisa and I decided we should have a women’s summit for triathlon, because that was missing from our sport. We founded the Outspoken Women in Triathlon Summit, and have held two awards ceremonies- of course, this year was cancelled due to COVID-19. We are doing a virtual ceremony; this is a community that knows how to endure trying times and keep the light alive.
As I was retiring as a pro triathlete, I started “The Ironwomen Podcast” while interning with a sports media company. I struck out on my own, continued the podcast, and founded Live Feisty Media a few months later.
Fast forward to 2020: races are cancelled, and opportunities to compete lost. It might seem odd, but this felt like the perfect time to launch our Live Feisty Triathlon team.
The athletes in the Live Feisty Triathlon team come from all walks of life. Some regularly win their age groups, others are just discovering triathlon. What they have in common is every woman is overcoming her own obstacles to show up and compete.
No matter where you start, triathlon is hard. If you’re a 50-year-old woman participating in her first triathlon, that race is hard for her as it was for me to compete on an international stage.
Abilities and level of competition aside, every single woman in any given triathlon has faced hardships and obstacles to train for and participate in that event. Much akin to how triathlon creates one sport from three, our collective struggles, dedication, and triumphs forge us into a single community.
All are welcome here.
Perspective Fitwear is the proud Official Athleisure Sponsor of the 2020-2021 Live Feisty Triathlon Team. #FindYours and #StayFeisty