"A love fest with sweat"
Over 75 volunteers from the St. Kate's community will be stationed along all 15 miles of the course as Team Katie — 100 strong, and headed by President Roloff — swims, bikes and runs to the finish line of the 10th annual YWCA Women's Triathlon.
Ten years ago, President ReBecca Roloff '76 founded the annual race during her tenure as YWCA Minneapolis president and chief executive officer. The race was initiated after the YWCA team recognized "a gap — no all-women triathletes in the region — that we were in a unique position to fill," Roloff says. "The YWCA mission of eliminating racism and empowering women and girls provided a great opportunity to encourage women to just 'tri.'"
Nicole Cueno, director of the Women's Tri, recalls President Roloff's strong support for the race and its mission. "As CEO and President of YWCA Minneapolis, Becky advocated so strongly to embed the race in the fabric of the organization," she notes.
And now, as St. Kate's President, Roloff brings her love for the race and its vision home to her alma mater — where the passion is clearly already there.
"Our mission and the YWCA mission align in a wonderful way," she says. "We're thankful to find those points of intersection of vision, passion and commitment, and to work together so that St. Kate's and YWCA Minneapolis can be even stronger."
The triathlon takes place on August 13. Entrants of all ages and abilities will swim 500 yards, bike 15.5 miles and run 3.1 miles. The bike course will start at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis and wind its way north along River Road in Minneapolis.
Team Katie will include students, athletes from the Wildcats teams, faculty and staff. Heidi Anderson-Isaacson will be among them. The Residence Life director has completed more than 20 triathlons, including her first full Ironman in 2015.
Seven years ago, Anderson-Isaacson wasn't sure she could compete in her first YWCA Women's Triathlon due to knee problems — but overcame that hurdle with the help of student personal trainers from the St. Kate's exercise science program.
"I love the cross training involved with triathlon, and my favorite portion is the bike," she says. "But the tri itself represents so much more to me. I started on my road to fitness as my mom was struggling with significant health issues as a result of diabetes. Ultimately, her death from these complications inspired me. I was significantly heavier at the time and my twin daughters were only two years old… I knew I needed to make significant changes to my lifestyle.”
The changes have paid dividends — this will be the second Women's Tri that Anderson-Isaacson races in with her daughters, now both 14.
Anderson-Isaacson says she remains loyal to the Women’s Tri because it was her first, and because it’s the only one dedicated to empowering women — just like St. Kate’s. “It’s the perfect venue for St. Kate’s presence. It makes such a difference having friendly faces out there to cheer you on — I’m so looking forward to that!”
President Roloff herself has been a dedicated participant since the first Women’s Tri, and says she dreams of one day racing with her new baby granddaughter once she reaches the minimum participant age of 11.
The legacy she hopes will continue with the Women’s Tri, Roloff says, lies in its supportive and encouraging environment. She recalls, “I was once stopped on the street by a woman who said, ‘I love doing the YWCA triathlon — it’s a love fest with sweat.’”
It’s a legacy Cueno also appreciates. “We’ve always known that St. Catherine University was dear to Becky’s heart,” she says, “and now we can see how much more closely she’s able to tie these wonderful communities. Thank you, Becky and the entire St. Kate’s community!”
Want to volunteer?
It's not too late! Visit the St. Kate's Women's Tri site for more information.
View photos from the 2013 YWCA Women's Tri on Flickr
Story by Michelle Mullowney '17