It’s easy to think of triathlon as a young man’s sport. Given the sport’s nature and demands, that probably makes a whole lot of sense.
But for Kimberley Dittrich, age is nothing but a number and it’s never too late for anyone to pick up the sport.
“I did my first Super Sprint at the age of 58! Did my first Ironman 70.3 at 59 years old,” she proudly tells us.
It’s a good reminder that anyone can achieve anything with the right focus, dedication and commitment.
We chat with Kimberley to find out more about her exciting journey and her advise to people who are thinking of giving triathlon a shot.
How did you discover triathlon?
I was dragon boating at the time when a girlfriend invited me to attend an early Friday morning triathlon training session with ONEndurance Triathlon Team. I attended one session and was hooked.
What were the struggles you experienced at first?
The biggest struggle at the beginning of my triathlon journey was scheduling training sessions each day. I have a full life, and learning to schedule swimming, cycling and running into a weekly schedule certainly kept me busy.
Also settling into a sport with much younger, stronger and incredibly gifted athletes was challenging at times.
What are some of the memorable competitions that you’ve joined?
I just completed my 6th Ironman 70.3 race a few weeks ago in Dubai. I did my first Ironman 70.3 at the age of 59 years!
My most memorable race would be in Hawaii as it was my first qualification for the World’s in Port Elizabeth South Africa in 2018. I was with my Calgarian team that week. We were not only teammates but very close friends. My husband was with us that week as well – very special time.
People think that triathlon is a young man’s sport. Why is this not true at all?
I actually think people have changed their mindset and attitudes on the fact that more mature athletes are competing in triathlons.
I find most younger athletes are encouraging, and uplifting to aging athletes. There is a genuine respect from younger athletes as they see we train hard, and are as equally committed as they are to the sport.
How do you keep yourself in top condition to compete?
I’m not sure I’m in top condition but I register for upcoming races so I can feel an element of always being ‘race ready’.
As a mature athlete it can sometimes take a little longer to catch up if I allow myself to take a long breaks. If I’m in recovery, I attend restorative yoga classes and take long walks with our dogs. I also enjoy opportunity to do the sports I no longer have the time for like kayaking, and paddle boarding.
In terms of training, are there routines that need to be modified to suit your age and needs?
I haven’t changed anything in my training schedule due to my age.
I guess having been an athlete my entire life allows me to know when my body requires down time or rest. There are days I do contact my coach, which is not often, to ask her to allow one extra day to recover.
That usually happens if my schedule is full and I’ve bit off more than I can chew that given week.
My coach also closely monitors my training peak results each day. She then plans my next few days of training around those results and findings.
Message to people who are thinking of doing triathlon but are discouraged because of their age.
I always say to people that age is just a number. I recommend beginning with a Super Sprint and Sprint! Both fun yet challenging distances and you can be as serious as you would like to be in both events.
The beauty of this sport is it’s built around both the serious athlete and the athlete who just wants to stay fit. It’s having the satisfaction of receiving a beautiful medal, while meeting people in an amazing community. It never matters what place you come in or if you ever podium, this is all about you. It’s a social sport yet can be addictive because of all the wonderful people you meet.
Most triathletes I know only learned to swim when they began their triathlon journey – I’m one of them.
It’s also becoming more of a family event, and on race weekends you will now find entire families racing together.
The Ironman’s mantra is ‘Anything Is Possible’ and I’m definitely proof of that.Find a triathlon community close to you. I can guarantee you will receive a warm welcome, a pat on the back and a community of amazing and supportive new friends.