Tracy DiSabato-Aust wins Triathlons

by Susan Harris on June 29, 2011

Tracy with husband Jim in Budapest

Tracy DiSabato-Aust is name that’s well known to American gardeners – she’s a best-selling author, popular speaker and garden designer.  But they’d be surprised to hear that she’s also the U.S. and world champion triathlete among women 50 to 54!  Won that title in Budapest last fall, where her husband and 21-year-old son competed, too.  (The family that does triathlons together probably does stay together.)

Tracy and family were three of about 200 athletes ages 20 to 80 who represented Team USA Triathlon in Budapest, where Tracy didn’t just compete but also blogged for the team (here are her blog posts). They’ve also competed in Italy and Australia, and will be going to Beijing this September for the world championships.  There’s lots more photos and stories about their athletic adventures right here.

What ARE Triathlons?
Events that include swimming, cycling and then running, at various distances - 11 different ones, in fact. Tracy’s favorite is the Olympic distance, which is just under a mile swim, 24.8 miles of biking and then a 6.2-mile run, which all takes about two hours and Tracy thinks is great fun. (Better her than me.)  Far more grueling is the aptly named Ironman distance, the running leg of which is a whole fricking Marathon.

Tracy after a triathlon where she won Best Overall Woman - of all ages!

“Sprint” distances became available just two years ago and Tracy says they inflict less wear and tear on older athletes.  Apparently the sport of triathlon has exploded recently, with lots of all-women events too.  All very safe and friendly, she says.   And if swimming is a hassle for you (joining a pool, driving to it), there are Duathlons now, comprised of just running and cycling.

Not an athletic newbie
I asked Tracy how she came to all this competing – was it a midlife crisis or something?  In other words, could it happen to someone like ME?  (Waaay unlikely.)  But no, she’s always been a runner, having started as a sprinter and hurdler in high school.  And before she became a mother she enjoyed 8 years of teaching fitness, “Jane Fonda-style”, as she describes it.   She also digs roller-blading and skiing around their 140-acre property during the long Ohio winters.

But at the age of 45 Tracy took up triathlons and now that’s her whole focus.  Trains 12 to 15 hours a week, covering two of the three sports every day.

So, only someone of independent means could afford to compete all over the world, right?  Or someone savvy enough to get sponsors, plenty of ‘em.

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