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Wednesday, October 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Area clubs turn triathlon into a team sport

Six years ago, Nicole Lund got her biggest triathlon lesson: It’s not a solo sport.

After hitting the proverbial wall in 2009 at the Coeur d’Alene Ironman, she consoled herself by watching her husband race the course.

Then she heard the racket.

“All these Team Blazers were cheering, showing their support for their racers,” Lund said. “I had to find out: What is Team Blaze?”

It’s many things, but mostly a helping hand for triathletes. Like their Spokane-area counterparts at TriFusion and Emde Sports, the 200-plus members of Team Blaze will help you cross the finish line with a smile on your face.

In 2010, Lind signed up for weekly runs at Team Blaze.

“They were so encouraging,” said Lund, who got the answers to many of her questions on the group’s online forum.

A year later she joined the board of directors.

Founded in 2004, Team Blaze is a nonprofit with members ranging from teenagers to 70-somethings.

For Kevin Stevens, the Team Blaze experience began on a whim, a fluke encounter at the YMCA in 2007.

“I just started showing up,” said Stevens, who entered two sprint events in 2007, when the group had perhaps 25 members.

For Stevens, the most important benefit was the “group connections and the support in learning and holding a variety of directed group activities.”

That includes group swims and mini-triathlons – “all those things that make us not feeling intimidated,” Stevens said.

At 59, she works as a certified sports nutrition specialist at International Sports Sciences Association and has two full Ironmans on her schedule this year.

Team Blaze also offers a mentor program, in which new members get one-on-one help. The program has 20 new members signed up for mentorship this year, said Stevens, who also serves as a coach.

For Bryan Rowe of Spokane, joining the TriFusion triathlon club provided the push to help him complete five full Ironmans in the past seven years.

“Mainly it’s just finding the people to commiserate with, the camaraderie of training with like-minded people,” the 51-year-old Rowe said.

“You think you’re crazy, and they’re doing the same thing,” said Rowe, who said he also has been a member of Team Blaze and found both groups “very supportive, even if you’re just getting off the couch and want to do a sprint.”

TriFusion has about 80 members. In addition to triathlon support, it sponsors an annual children’s event, which celebrates “health, self-esteem, self-confidence and fun, in a safe, family-friendly environment.”

This year’s event will be on June 20 at Whitworth.

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