Virginia athlete doesn’t let broken bike stop her from competing in Ironman Waco

50-year-old mother of five beat all other women in the competition
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 4:31 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Traveling 70.3 miles in a day is no easy feat when there are no motors or horsepower involved - and you have to swim, bike and run.

The Ironman Waco triathlon attracted people from all over the country who were up to the challenge.

All the planning and training that goes into competing in these events is time consuming and costly. It requires not only physical fitness, but a level of discipline and dedication that, quite frankly, most people don’t have.

Imagine the frustration felt by Beni Gras-Thompson, who traveled to Waco from Virginia to compete in the triathlon, only to unpack her bicycle and learn it had been smashed in transit.

Luckily, a local bike shop stepped in to help when the athlete’s hopes were fading fast.

Gras-Thompson limped her broken bike into Bicycle World, where the mechanics had bad news: they couldn’t fix it.

They did have a bike for sale that was almost a perfect fit.

“I just thought I have nothing else to lose, and I took it out, and tested it, and it was really fast, and it ended up that way during the race,” said Gras-Thompson.

She came out of the water and realized she was in a pretty good position.

During the bike race, her machine ran like polished steel or carbon fiber.

The grueling run was next and Gras-Thompson was the first woman to cross the finish line and 16th overall.

It was noot a bad finish for an event that was almost over before it started.

No one was more surprised than the 50 year old mother of five.

“That whole time, I was just surprised. I can’t believe I’m doing this. And then the announcer said I was the first female,” she recalled.

The Virginia athlete has a couple months to enjoy her victory before she races again.

By then, she should be more comfortable with her new bike and, perhaps, her new place as an inspiration for other athletes.

“Just seeing that a 50 year old can do it, shows them they can do it,” she said, “That means more to me than that plaque I received.”

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