Cleveland Triathletes

Cleveland Triathletes

Look Who’s Tri-ing

Local Athletes Compete on Land and In Water


By Stacy Rhea




Swimming, biking, running.

The sport of triathlon is when an athlete does all three in one long, grueling race. It’s not just for the young and buff. Watch any triathlon and you’ll see a wave of 50-plus athletes mixed in — and they’re not in the back of the pack.


The length of each portion of a triathlon varies. Sometimes the swimming portion is in a lake or the ocean. Biking is the longest section — 50 or more miles is not uncommon. Distances for the running portion are shorter, but still tough because they come at the end of the triathlon. Ironman triathlons tend to be considerably longer than conventional triathlons.


So why would anyone want to do it? Meet three Northeast Ohio triathletes and find out why one type of competition isn’t enough — they want all three.




Barb Thomas: 61
Residents: Broadview Heights
First Triathlon: 2012, Fairport Harbor


Sports have been part of Barb Thomas life since she was a child. Her mother played semi-pro softball and her father was a track star, so its no wonder Thomas is a lifelong athlete. At 14, Thomas won the YWCA nationals.

Later, as a mother of four, Thomas supported and coached her children in a variety of activities. One of Thomas fondest memories is when her daughter and son competed in the USAT Nationals with her. Her daughter won a national title in her age group.


A High Point:

Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Sunshine Coast, Australia, September 2016. She finished 13th in her age group.


Thomas Advice for a Newbie:

Start out slow. Keep moving and just go out and have fun.


Side Note:

In 1993, Thomas participated on an all-womens relay team at the National City Bank Triathlon and won the division.




Tanya Cady: 64

Residence: Sagamore Hills

First triathlon: 2011, Fairport Harbor


Cady’s passion for sports developed later in life. Growing up in Oklahoma, Cady wasn’t exposed to sports with the exception of mandatory physical education classes.


In 1996, Cady set her sights on the Boston Marathon after learning it was celebrating its 100th anniversary. On a bet, Cady ran her first 10K without any training and took third in her age group. Her next race was the Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon, formerly the Revco-Cleveland Marathon & 10K. Cady’s finishing time of 3:42 qualified her for the 101st Boston Marathon.


Since 1996, Cady has run seven, 100-mile races and numerous other events. When arthritis threatened to derail her running, she turned to triathlons.


“I knew it was time for a change,” Cady said. “I chose triathlons because the sport offers a variety of disciplines and distances.”


For Cady, racing is about the journey. “The training and races become memories,” Cady says. “Along the way, you meet people and learn about their life story — everyone has story.”


A High Point:
Louisville Half Ironman, August 2016


Cadys Advice for a Newbie:

Its all in your attitude. Dont be intimidated. We all started somewhere.




Jon K. Curtis:  61
Residence: Perry

First triathlon: 2011, Fairport Harbor


A spinal fusion ended Jon K. Curtis’ 25-year stint with martial arts. To stay active, Curtis turned to running and swimming for recovery. During this time, a lifelong friend introduced Curtis to the sport of triathlon.


With a new focus and passion, Curtis began training for his first event, the Fairport Harbor Triathlon. His first thought after the event: “Wow, I did it.”


In the six years Curtis has participated in triathlons, he has completed three sprints, four Half Ironmans (70.3 total distance in miles) and two full Ironmans (140.6 total distance in miles).


Like many triathletes, Curtis’ goal is to continue with this sport well into his 70s. “I will continue to tri,” Curtis says, “until my body tells me to stop.”


A High Point:

Cedar Point Challenge — Full Ironman, September 2015


Curtis Advice for a Newbie:

“Join the Cleveland Triathlon Club. The members are willing to help and support you all the way.”




Stacy Rhea is a health and fitness coach based in Stow. She’s completed five Half Ironmans, two 50k races, triathlons, and participated in similar events for fun.

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