On Sunday February 19th Deanna Waters commemorated the life of Cheri Lutz, a dear friend and an inspirational lady, by completing the Ultimate distance at the Huskisson Triathlon Festival. In this article we learn how Cheri started a legacy by inspiring her friend Deanna to forget her self-doubts, put aside her weight issues and start where she was. Deanna followed this advice and, overcoming issues including heart trouble and weightloss, was able to put the untimely death of Cheri behind her when she crossed the finish line after 9 hours.
In life there are many inspirational moments. It may be the subtle tones of a sunset, the bravery of the soldier in battle or the smiling face of a kid after life threatening surgery.
I find inspiration in all these things and more but SPORT has been, and always will be, one of the most inspirational areas of life that I can think of.
From time to time I have published stories of inspirational heroes I have read about, cried about and gained motivation from. It’s an honour that today I report an inspirational story involving one of my very own friends – someone I met during an ocean swim (of all places!)
Yesterday, Deanna Waters, from Manly, completed a gruelling Ultimate event (2km swim, 83km bike and 20 km run) at the Huskisson Triathlon Festival. Her time of just over 9 hours indicates to anyone that can comprehend these distances that Deanna was very much out of her comfort zone and put her heart and soul into finishing something most would not even start. She finished on her own a few hours after the majority of competitors but plenty had hung around the finish to see her don a pink tutu and cross the line with tears streaming down her face.
For me, this is inspiration enough. Deanna was only given the all clear to train and race again in July 2016 after heart problems in late 2015 kept her out of training and took her in hospital for a variety of procedures. The break had caused weight gain and muscle loss so returning to training was always going to be tough. And attempting the Ultimate distance as early as February was thought by many (including me) to be a step too far.
But Deanna was driven. To understand this drive we need to look behind yesterday’s remarkable performance to reveal the motivations behind Deanna’s incredible will power. You see – Deanna had a greater need to finish the event. She was not doing it for herself – she was doing it in the memory of her friend, Cheri Lutz.
Cheri was a special lady. Cheri had struggled with her weight for many years and also had heart issues of her own. Notwithstanding these issues, Cheri and her husband Rob, motivated a group of ladies to lose weight together and form the ‘’Pink Ladies’’ – a group that competes in several triathlon events per year.
This group met Deanna a few years ago whilst Deanna was in a dark patch. They encouraged Deanna to believe in herself and have a go at triathlon. Deanna says that Cheri taught her “People of all shapes and sizes do triathlon and everyone has fun. If you are at the back of the pack you are still doing better than the average person sitting on the sofa.”
Deanna started to train and do triathlons, and before her heart issues in 2016, was regularly seen around the triathlon scene as both a TO (technical official) and as a competitor. Deanna acknowledges that her self-esteem and self-belief benefitted from knowing Cheri and having her encouragement.
One year ago, Cheri was recovering from a training ride at home when she experienced heart issues. She passed away a few days later. For Deanna, herself sidelined with heart issues, this came as a tremendous shock and a fair amount of survivors’ guilt.
As Deanna came to terms with her loss, sense of shock and overcame her medical issues she knew she had to return to triathlon – the sport that had bought her and Cheri together. Her burning light was the February Huskisson Triathlon Festival which had named the Athena category in the memory of Cheri.
It was this light and motivation which had Deanna swimming, cycling and running for 9 hours to complete the race in Cheri’s name and memory. She won the Athena category, for ladies over 80kg, a category about which Cheri was passionate.
It was this light that also had and Sana Munro and Leone Joice from the Pink Ladies do a swim and bike as part of a team in the same event (the run leg was completed by Alex York, another Northern Beaches athlete, who stepped in last minute to complete the run and ensure the Pink Ladies could honour Cheri). It was this light that drove Rob Lutz, Cheri’s bereaved husband, to also complete the race. And it is this light that shows us all that triathlon is a sport that encompasses everyone.
Deanna herself says” It’s not about putting off your first event until – you have lost the weight, or run 5km, or purchased a brand new bike – or whatever is preventing you today. It’s about starting where you are TODAY – making it a goal and then making it happen”.
For me and, I hope, for you – this is pure inspiration.
Iron Mums at 40+ is a leading Health, Fitness, Nutrition & Body Transformation Platform providing F2F/ Online Coaching & Programs specifically designed for 40+ Mums. We help YOU Drop a Dress Size in 30 Days or prepare physically, mentally & emotionally to Finish Your First, or Smash Your Time, in your Next Triathlon or Outdoor Challenge.
LIZ STAPLETON – Mum, Founder Iron Mums at 40+, Health, Nutrition, Triathlon, Fitness Coach
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