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Cathy Gurret Lama still going strong after 40 years of triathlon competition

Cathy Gurret Lama (Photograph supplied).

Age is just a number for Cathy Gurret Lama, who marked the 40th anniversary competing in the sport of triathlon in spectacular fashion this year.

The Bermudian achieved three podium displays competing in the 65-69 age group, including second at the 70.3 Ironman Panama City, Florida and third at the 70.3 Ironman Oregon, Salem and Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells, California.

“I have had a truly great season this year always finishing on the podium,” Gurret Lama told The Royal Gazette.

“The Indian Wells 70.3 triathlon was the last race of this triathlon season for me and I really wanted to podium. I was elated that I did as I knew there would be a lot of strong triathletes in my age group.”

The 65-year-old, who resides in California, completed the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run in 6hrs 48mins 15sec at the Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells on December 5.

“This was by far my hardest race because of the hot and windy conditions,” she added. “I was so pleased that I placed third.”

Gurret Lama attributes her success to a rigorous training regiment and improvements on the bike.

“I have trained very hard all year in preparation for all of my races,” she said. “This year I got a power metre for my bike and it has helped me so much in my training. I have significantly improved my race bike times.”

Gurret Lama began competing in the sport in 1981 and carved her name in history by becoming the island’s first women’s national champion.

She has since competed in over 200 triathlons, ten 70.3 triathlons and two full Ironman events, and is showing no signs of letting up any time soon.

“I want to keep racing until my body says no,” Gurret Lama said. “I love to race because I also have a husband (Giuseppe) who has been racing with me for 40 years.

“He is one of my greatest supporters. He is in fact the one who got me into doing triathlons in Bermuda. We caught the triathlon bug and have never stopped competing.

“We started with the short distance triathlons and transitioned in the last ten years to the longer distances.”

Gurret Lama downplays her role in helping to establish the sport in Bermuda, choosing instead to highlight the achievements and contributions of others.

“Others may say that I was a pioneer because I won the first Bermuda national triathlon and others that followed,” she said.

“However, I think that it is important to acknowledge that Jim and Debbie Butterfield, who are world class athletes, and Stephen and Patty Petty are the true pioneers of the sport in Bermuda.

“They organised the first of many triathlon races and made an impact to bringing Bermuda into the centre of the triathlon world by their dedication and passion to the sport and island.”

Gurret Lama had plenty of incentive to always put her best foot forward in those early days.

“I was a PE teacher before I moved to the United States,” she added. “While being a PE teacher I wanted to inspire my students in the sport of running and triathlon, and that was a motivating factor for me to excel in triathlons.

“I have continued to race and I want to motivate others that no matter what age you are you can do it. I always feel very honoured when people are impressed with how long I have been racing and my accomplishments in Bermuda, the United States, Mexico and Europe.”

Earlier this year Flora Duffy won Bermuda’s first gold medal at the Olympics in Tokyo, much to the delight of Gurret Lama.

“I have always followed Flora Duffy’s career and her amazing accomplishments,” she said. “I am thrilled that she has put Bermuda on the world’s map through triathlon.

“I watched her at the Olympics and I was in awe of her. She is a fabulous example and inspiration for young Bermudians to follow their dreams in whatever sport they choose.

“I am also impressed with Tyler Butterfield, Erica Harley, Karen Smith and her son Tyler Smith.”

Duffy also won a record-equalling third World Triathlon Championship Series title, Super League Triathlon championship series finale at the first attempt, as well as an unprecedented sixth Xterra World Championship title this year.

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Published December 22, 2021 at 7:43 am (Updated December 22, 2021 at 7:43 am)

Cathy Gurret Lama still going strong after 40 years of triathlon competition

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