This year, Tri 4 Schools has selected two athletes: one male, one female, to be our official Athletes of the Year for 2014!  These two amazing people are signed up for their first Ironman triathlon, and we hope you will join us in supporting them on their training journeys throughout the year.  Ironman Wisconsin takes place on Sunday, September 7.  Find out more on this incredible challenge here.  All our Twitter fans can use the hashtag #IMforT4S.

Being part of our Athlete of the Year program means they will serve as an ambassador for our organization’s mission and lifestyle – spreading awareness and raising funds.  You will see Melanie, and her counterpart (to be introduced next week) at our 2014 events to cheer on all our participants, and follow their training ups and downs via social media and our blog.

But wait, there’s more!  You can’t forget the swag.  Athletes receive custom tri gear with the Tri 4 Schools logo, as well as the sponsors who help make this program possible, as well as hats, hoodies, and other merchandise to increase our presence at athletic events and in the community.

Interested in being a part of this program?  Email our Executive Director at to learn more.  For now though, let’s learn a bit about Melanie, who as you’ll come to realize, is one of the most fantastic people we’ve ever met!

1. Tell us a bit about your fitness journey – how did you get in to triathlons?

Accidentally! I started running in high school to stay in shape after volleyball season ended. I was very content being a runner for several years, and then, in the summer of 2013, I ran a 200-mile relay race with a great group of ladies. They convinced me to give triathlon a shot. I was hesitant because I thought I’d really found my passion in running, but boy was I wrong! I was hooked the second I ran into the water at my first race!

2. What made you decide to sign up for the Ironman?

I’ve watched Ironman Wisconsin for the past few years, and I’m always inspired by the athletes. I volunteered for the event in 2013, and got the opportunity to support the swimmers from the comfort of my paddleboard as they finished the last leg of their time in the water. It was the most amazing, awe-inspiring two and a half hours of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever had as many goosebumps, or cried so much over the achievements of complete strangers, and that was just as a volunteer! I signed up for the event the very next morning.

3. How did you get involved with Tri 4 Schools?

I worked with Katie’s husband, Doug, when he put out a call for volunteers for the first kids’ triathlon in Middleton. I volunteered at that event, helping kids out of the water and directing them to their bikes. The excitement, pride, and joy on their faces as they completed the race was just awesome! Running and being active has played an enormous part in shaping my life, and I’m excited to help kids have the same opportunity to grow through fitness.

4. Why do you want to be one of our Athletes of the Year?

It’s an honor – knowing that my training and hard work this year is bettering the lives of other kids is the ultimate inspiration. I’m excited to be a face for Tri 4 Schools, and to contribute to the program’s growth.

5. How can we encourage you on your training journey?

Please pray for strength, patience, and perseverance – this is going to be a long, hard, and very rewarding journey! Beyond that, just JOIN me! Hearing stories of other individuals and families getting active and improving their health is the best motivation.  

6. What’s one thing people might not know about you?

I’ve lived in the Madison area my whole life – I love this city!

7. What’s your typical fitness routine?  How are you altering that to prepare for Ironman?

I used to just run every day. I’ve added swimming and cycling to my weekly routine, and really love the variety. Changing up my workouts is a good challenge for my body and for my mind. I’ve also added strength training a few times a week – I didn’t realize how critical it was at first, but it’s done wonders to improve my speed and endurance!

8. Favorite activities outside of exercising?

Being on the water – boating, swimming, paddleboarding, etc. I love spending time with my husband, family, and friends. And I REALLY love to eat!