Eight years ago, Laura Walls hadn’t considered whether she had what it took to compete in a triathlon.
But with a third Half Ironman competition behind her, Walls will soon return to the very place her passion for the sport was born.
After a three-year hiatus, Cheshire Fitness Club will bring back its indoor triathlon for members and non-members on Sunday, April 24. Stephanie Hayes, director of operations and one of Cheshire’s three owners, said the return of the 2 p.m. event is a way to do something “fun.”
“We originally did triathlons as ‘paid events’ for members until 2012,” she said. “And they used to really enjoy them. They are cool events, and we wanted to bring them back, especially for the members.”
Walls experienced her first triathlon at Cheshire eight years ago. she didn’t have swim goggles, nor did she own a bike.
“I was just so excited about the opportunity to do an indoor triathlon that I just jumped right in because I thought it sounded like fun,” she said.
Not only did Walls enjoy the experience, but she also believes it changed her life.
“Cheshire is the reason that I’m able to do these triathlons that I do. And I can’t emphasize that enough,” she said. “And at this point I am in the best shape that I have ever been in, in my entire life.”
Walls is not the only one in her family to reap the health benefits that come along with her training. Her husband, who assisted her with preparing for triathlons in her early days in the sport, is now passionate about participating as well.
“He was my ‘sherpa’ in the first few years I was doing the triathlons,” Walls said. “He didn’t know how to swim. But he decided that since it looked like so much fun he would teach himself how to swim. Now he’s doing triathlons with me.”
Walls, who was 56 when she attempted her first triathlon, said the sport helps keep her and her husband young. They have also found the triathlon community welcoming.
“It has enhanced my life in so many ways,” she said. “I’ve met so many new friends in this sport, and now we have friends all over the world. The community in this sport is unlike any that I’ve been part of, and that includes running, which I do as well.”
Anyone can participate in Cheshire’s indoor triathlon. People who aren’t members of the fitness center will pay a $10 registration fee that the center will donate to Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry.
Registration is also available at eventmercenaries.com. Event Mercenaries will conduct timing during the triathlon.
Triathlons typically involve running, biking and swimming a set distance in the shortest amount of time. But Cheshire’s will be done with a twist, Andrew Marsh of Event Mercenaries said.
“This will be run in three 15-minute heats,” he said. “So the goal will be to travel the farthest distance in that 45-minute time period.”
Hayes said the Cheshire triathlon is structured in a way that makes it ideal for rookies and seasoned participants.