One of the cool things about triathlons and road races is that you get to be out there on the same course with the professionals, experiencing the same conditions, racing the same race. There are not many sports where that is possible!
I'm not much of a celebrity-watcher, but there are three female professional triathletes that I'd especially like to see in person. Two of them are racing at Eagleman and starting on the swim course just five minutes before me! That will be the last I'll see of them that day, but it will still be exciting to watch them start - like beginning a marathon in Corral #2 directly behind the elite runners (or so I imagine).
Tara Norton, a professional triathlete and TRI-DRS member (10:52:51 for 25th place last year at Hawaii Ironman World Championships in Kona), had planned to race at Eagleman before she suffered a devastating bike accident in mid-May. We wish her a speedy recovery and quick return to peak health and racing form.
Natascha Badmann is known not only for her five wins at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in Kona, including last fall when she was robbed by the doping Nina Kraft, but also for her radiant smile throughout the race. She has won Eagleman twice, last year in 4:13:42, and is returning for her third race to the podium.
Karen Smyers, pictured above, has attained legendary status in the triathlete community. Her resume includes numerous wins - World Championships titles in 1990, 1995, 1996, the Professional National Champion title for six consecutive years, a gold medal at the 1995 Pan Am Games, the Triathlon Pro Tour in 1993 and 1994, the World Cup Series in 1991, and a dramatic come-from-behind victory over 7-time champion Paula Newby-Fraser in the Hawaiian Ironman World Championships in 1995. But what's more significant even than that is the incredible spirit she has shown in coming back from thyroid cancer, road accidents, serious injuries, and the births of two children during her long career. She was honored with the Comeback Athlete Award and also voted Sports Mom of the Year by Working Mother magazine, and as one fan said, "Three months after having a c-section was up and competing."