MyStory Finalist: Road to Hamburg
Next in our series of MyStory Finalists is Beth Shutt from the United States. For the past two months, the International Triathlon Union has invited age-group athletes to send in their stories about their personal journeys to Hamburg for the BG Triathlon World Championships. We were overwhelmed with the response and received many inspirational stories of how triathlon has positively impacted people’s lives. As the event nears, we invite you to read a selection of the ten finalists’ stories. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did. Thanks to all for entering and good luck in Hamburg and future races!!
ITU Media team
By: Beth Shutt (USA)
My athletic background began as a distance runner in high school and at Penn State University, where I competed in cross country and track & field. Upon graduation from college, I continued competitive running, finishing two marathons (PR 3:11) and various shorter races.
In 2006, frustrated by multiple running injuries, I decided to try a triathlon at the suggestion of a friend. I was better suited for the triathlon training as the lower impact swimming and cycling helped to keep me injury free. In the mean time I fell in love with the sport!
In my first season of competition I placed highly in several smaller races in my area. In 2007, my second season, I decided to compete in some larger races with a major goal of racing at the National Age Group Championships and to qualify for the World Championships in Hamburg, Germany. I also was lucky enough to be selected for Mark Allen’s amateur triathlon team where I would be coached by Mark himself. I started my year off well with an amateur win at the Columbia Triathlon in Maryland. I was looking forward to competing in my first Half Ironman at the Eagleman Triathlon, however training and racing plans came to a screeching halt on June 1, 2007. While in the first 5 minutes of a solo 2:30 training ride on a hot, muggy afternoon, I was hit by a truck.
I lost consciousness and was flown via helicopter to a trauma center in Pittsburgh. I woke up in the helicopter very frightening and not remembering the accident at all. I did not even see the truck coming.
I was blessed to not have suffered any broken bones but was very sore, shaken and unable to train for about 2 weeks. As I slowly recovered I made the decision to travel to Portland, Oregon for the Age Group National Championships in hopes of still earning a spot on the USA World Championship Team. My training leading up to the race was essentially non-existent and I still had a very sore hip and ribs but I wanted to give it my best shot in qualifying.
And I did qualify - but barely! In the National Championship race I could feel my loss of fitness and was also tentative on the bike, still nervous about crashing and riding aggressively. I also suffered from nausea and had to stop twice on the run to vomit! I desperately wanted to drop out of the race but knew that if I could continue on and keep pushing I might still have a chance to go to Germany.
In the end I placed 15th and the top 16 places qualify for the World Championship. It certainly wasn’t my best race but I savored the victory of coming back from my accident and still achieving my goal of making the USA team. I learned a great deal about overcoming hurdles and adversity and how everything might not be perfect but a positive outlook and a little determination can go a long way.
As the days and now weeks have passed after the accident I am getting stronger and healthier with each ride, run and swim. I am starting to get my confidence back on the bike and the pain of the accident is starting to fade. With thoughts of competing in the red, white and blue of the USA in September I am training with much motivation and focus!
Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story!