Steamboat’s Gollnick takes fifth in age division at World Championships
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs resident Heather Gollnick has donned the red, white and blue before. Still, for the longtime triathlete, it never gets old being able to represent the United States in an international competition.
“I have done a few big international races representing the U.S., but this was the first time in several years,” Gollnick said. “It’s just really fun to represent your country. I think everyone that does it feels like it’s an honor. You are racing for your country, not just for yourself.”
On Saturday in Chicago, the 45-year-old Gollnick competed in the ITU World Triathlon Championships, where she finished fifth in the world among more than 80 women in the 45-49 age group division. She completed the city-based course in two hours, three minutes, 18 seconds, less than three minutes behind race winner Tracy Kellner, also of the U.S.
“I had a great race,” Gollnick said. “I felt really strong in all three disciplines.”
Saturday’s race was a big deal for Gollnick for a couple of reasons. For starters, it was near her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so it was as close to a home course as you’ll find at this level.
Also, this was the first time in close to a decade that the U.S. has hosted the World Triathlon Championships, and Gollnick didn’t want to miss out on a chance to race on American soil.
“It was really exciting to put that team U.S.A. uniform on again and be out there with everyone else that is representing the United States,” Gollnick said. “It was such a huge honor to represent the United States in a huge international race. The World Championships is the biggest race of the year.”
The race had been a long time in the making for the five-time Ironman winner, who owns IronEdge Coaching in Steamboat. Gollnick qualified for the World Championships last summer at nationals, and had a long wait leading up to Saturday.
Another IronEdge athlete, 54-year-old Steamboat resident Robyn Jankoski, looks to follow in Gollnick’s footsteps next year. Jankoski competed at the national competition in Milwaukee in early August, placing 18th to qualify for the 2016 World Triathlon Championships in Cozumel, Mexico.
Gollnick doesn’t know what is in store for her immediate future as an athlete. IronEdge team members like Jankoski will keep her busy coaching, and in the mean time Gollnick is finally ready to take a break from the grind of competition.
“I’m going on vacation,” Gollnick joked. “Looking forward to a little R&R.”
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