What set the 70.3 World Championship apart from any other triathlon you've done in the past?
Diane: Going to Worlds felt very special because of the qualifying aspect. It's by "invitation" only. Knowing to race with the world's best athletes makes this event very exciting, it gives you this satisfying feeling of accomplishment and honor belonging to a group of amazing people.
Gene: Going to worlds means a lot. It's not automatic that you can just go. You must finish somewhere in the top of the pack, and if you don't then you have to hope for a roll down. I was fortunate enough to get an invite at Coeur d'Alene where I finished second. Of course I excepted the invite, without discussing ahead of time, with my bride. Ultimately she was quite proud of me.
What's the coolest thing about being a World Championship participant?
Diane: The medal is huge and you get a cool towel at the finish line ;-) The coolest thing is to meet so many awesome people and share triathlon war stories. I think Eugene's story of racing with an metal object in his foot is the most mind blowing I've ever heard.
Gene: The coolest experience was in the finish itself. I had a number of challenges throughout the race, including losing my battery pack so was unable to shift the last 20 miles I had a foreign body in my heel a metallic object that I thought was a bone bruise. Despite the setbacks I'm at a reasonable time it was quite proud of my accomplishment
What's your best memory?
Diane: Running for a bit with the oldest participant while an announcer along the course called his name and his 80+ age. The spectators and runners around him went crazy gave him the loudest cheering ever.
Gene: the start is most memorable. We had had stormy weather in high season the days leading up to the race. Diane Haensel and myself are both swim in the open ocean in very rough conditions. We were confident we could make the swim but we're worried about our time. On the day of the race the sun came up. The gun went off in the professionals went out. It was rather amazing that in the midst of this very large crowd of people, of 3000 triathletes, another several thousand spectators on the beach Diane Haensel was able to find me, and we had a moment together to prepare for our start
What's the best phrase you learned in Australia? (please type it with your new Australian accent)
Diane: Good on ya mate...
Gene: "Put down your cell phone". As I was going through customs my daughter Elizabeth who lives in Sicily was in labor she texted a photo of me with her newborn baby well I was going through customs. They confiscated my cell phone but didn't return it as I cleared customs. They wanted to know what was so important about the pictures I was looking. I shared with those customs inspectors photos of my newborn grandson. They were slapping on me me on my back, giving me big handshakes and hugs and we're glad they met me. I was told that my grandson was all right. I was a mess. Very proud grandpa.
Has the experience of 70.3 worlds changed your perspective on triathlon or given you any fresh insights?
Diane: Most impressive observation was that triathlon keeps you young. Many athletes had numbers on their calves that seemed to be very wrong. They looked ten or more years younger. I was inspired by their strength and energy. I hope I can be in such great shape when I am in my 60s and older.
What's your best advice to your teammates who might have the 2017 70.3 World Championships on their goal list?
Diane: Go to the award ceremony of your 70.3 race and stay for the slot allocation. My age group had two slots and I got in finishing 20th!
Gene: Follow your dreams , never give up. If you loose a race and was beaten, tip your cap. I would also say make them work hard for it. And do not give it away. Go RTB
I was introduced to running races in 2008 and I enjoyed this new adventure with my twin sister. We were approached by a mutual friend who asked if we wanted to try a triathlon in 2009. At first we were little skeptical that we could conquer a ½ mile swim or even a 12 mile bike ride. How do we train for this? Our friend assured us that we could complete this race and live to share the story over and over again. We were told that there were ladies out there of all shapes and sizes, along with different athletic levels. Since she believed in us, we signed up for our first race.
Training for me was all swim. I knew that my 12 year old brain could bike 12 miles and I could always walk if I had to. I purchased my bike from Wal-Mart the day before my race and I swam with no triathlon suit. My 12 mile bike ride across I-90 felt as if I was on a Sunday drive. I was inspired by the ladies that could fly past me and climb a hill with no pain. Even when I self-doubted my training plan, I had a lot of cheerleaders out there who believed that I could do it. I crossed the finish line with some tears of happiness and the biggest smile. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have shared my story. It’s definitely a race where I learned a lot and now I laugh every time I relive my bike adventure across I-90.
Three weeks later, my twin sister and I both completed our second triathlon with the same gear. I knew I was hooked on this new journey. Fast forward nine months, we committed ourselves to our first HUGE purchase, a triathlon bike and a triathlon suit. It was a pretty exciting day for us. We also made a commitment to one another to inspire at least one person every year to attempt a triathlon and in 2010 we had three. If they only knew how much they inspired us during their journey.
I have always dreamt of becoming an Ironman. Not to finish the race in first place but to finish with the most amazing story. This year was my first attempt at CDA 70.3. It probably took me 3 months to get a grasp of my new training program. How do I balance out my life and still enjoy everything I love; CrossFit, train for CDA, hike, travel for work and still plan lots of adventures with my family and friends? I trained for CDA 70.3 for 8 months. In those months, I gained a tremendous amount of memories, several self-reflections, many adventures, triathlon gear purchases, Raise the Bar and new road friends, shared inspirational stories, lost weight, had the support of my family and friends, improved my diet, lowered work stress levels and gained a lot of confidence. The outcome of “Why I Tri” is beyond positive. It has changed me into a better person and I love how it makes me feel.
What has been one of your greatest accomplishments as an athlete?
I have always dreamt about standing on the podium for placing in a race, so one of my greatest accomplishments as an athlete was when I placed 3rd in my age division during my latest triathlon at Lake Meridian. This truly has inspired me to train even harder for the 2017 season.
What is the most challenging thing for you to do in a triathlon?
The most challenging thing for me to do in a triathlon is biking up hills. They are truly my weakness and I haven’t figured out how to get my brain to tell me to not take a break and/or back off on my gears.
What was the scariest thing you have had to do? Are you glad you did it?
The scariest thing I have had to do was to swim with my face in the water and see a fish without screaming. In June of this year, I finally conquered this fear. Yes, I’m still scared of fish but I have just learned to swim faster.
What is your biggest challenge and what do you do to manage this challenge?
My biggest challenge was how to train for CDA 70.3 without my twin sister. I knew it was her dream race as well and I didn’t want to do it without her. I managed the challenge by knowing I had her support 110% and she truly did show it.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
The best advice I’ve been giving was to join Raise the Bar. It took me 3 years to make that commitment and now I’m not sure why I waited this long. The people I have met in the group are amazing athletes and full of inspiration. I have shared this experience with so many people around me. This truly was the best advice I have received in a long time.
Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
Do what you love, love what you do!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration is drawn from others around me. I surround myself with friends that live an active and healthy lifestyle. I take pleasure in reading and/or listening to stories about races and doing other hobbies I enjoy. I always thank my friends and family for sharing their stories with me and I make sure to let them know that they also inspire me over and over again.
Raise the Bar
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