Ruth Ripley

Ruth Ripley

Tell us about yourself. I am 67 years old and have resided in Pennellville my whole life except while I was in Massachusetts obtaining my nursing degree. For 43 years I worked nights (7 p.m.-7 a.m.) in the Emergency Department at Crouse Hospital as the Permanent Charge Nurse. Last June I retired but continue to work per diem in the department. I have been married for 46 years to my husband Larry and have two children, Matthew and Amy, and four grandchildren.
How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up? This is my fifth year of competing. One of my good friends at work, Diane Goode, was doing triathlons and having so much fun that she talked me into entering the triathlon world even though I could not swim. One quiet night at work I gave her my credit card to order what I would need to do triathlons and the UPS man was making daily deliveries. There was just no turning back at that point.

Who is your hero? I have many heroes but I will tell you my top two. First, my husband Larry, who has given me his unconditional support first in all the running that I have done and now in the triathlons. He is continually checking my equipment and traveling with me to the triathlons. Of course, he likes some of the benefits such as the wonderful buffet at the Keuka Lake Tri and encourages me to do this race each year. My second hero is Jill Walsh, who never ceases to amaze me in all she does despite her multiple sclerosis. One of her recent adventures was Escape from Alcatraz and she is now training with the American Paralympic bike team for the world finals. Go Jill!!

What is your athletic background? My athletic career did not start until I was 40 years old. I started running and have never stopped. This is truly my favorite sport. After five years of running I tried my first marathon in Washington, D.C. I trained very hard and finally qualified for the 100th running of the Boston Marathon in 1996. I read about running a marathon in all 50 states and thought I would give it a try. I was in the middle of my 50 states when cancer struck, but I remained determined to complete my dream despite the advanced stage of the cancer and the surgery and chemotherapy. It forced me to take five months off but I quickly returned to my marathon dream. I ran a marathon in all 50 states and the nation’s capital, the second woman from New York State to accomplish this. I could not believe that I was still alive, so I ran another 50 marathons for a total of 100, and then said “100 is enough.”
What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? Of course, running is my greatest strength with all of the marathons I have run over the years. My severe weakness is swimming. I have come a long way, however. I couldn’t even swim half the length of the pool when I started. Last year I signed up for Escape from the Judge in Skaneateles, which is a mile swim, and placed first in my age group. But I’m still working very hard on the swimming with continuous lessons. My biking has improved since the purchase of my new bike and riding longer miles.

What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? My first completed triathlon was the Iron Girl in 2010. Everyone was so very nice and so very supportive. This is such a wonderful triathlon to have as your very first. Even though I had only just started triathlon, I finished third in my age group but only because of running.

What was your worst race and why? My first triathlon attempt was at Green Lakes in 2010 and was my very worst. The swimming did not go well, as hard as I tried, and I went to the kayak and asked to be taken to shore because I could not stop hyperventilating. I knew all of the medics in the tent and did not want them to cut off my brand new wetsuit and then have them take me to the Crouse Emergency Department where everyone would have laughed. This is when I decided I really needed expert help with the swimming.

What is your favorite race and why? My favorite race was the second Iron Girl triathlon in 2011. My swimming had improved along with my biking. There were 25 in my age group for this event. I had no real aspirations for the race and just wanted to do the very best that I could. To my surprise, I placed first in my age group and was just elated. This only happened because I passed my competition, who up until that point had been the leader in the age group, in the last half mile of the run.

What races are on your race calendar for 2014? I really enjoy the sprint distance and will continue to race it. So this year I signed up for seven sprint triathlons. I have completed the Green Lakes Triathlon, Tri Oswego, Henderson Harbor, Delta and Cayuga, with Old Forge and Skinnyman left on the calendar.

What are this year’s goals? My goal is always to the do the very best I can in all the triathlons and just have fun.

In five years I hope to. . . Still be able to enjoy this sport and encourage others to stay active and treasure each day of life as much as I do.

Something most people don’t know about you. I was raised on a dairy farm. My father and brother would go back out into the fields in the evening and leave me to milk the cows. I had my own calves that I raised and would show at the local fair and also the State Fair.
What triathlon has taught me. I have learned that you cannot become a triathlete overnight. It takes a lot of hard work and you have to be very patient to build the skills needed to complete a race. I also have learned to not only accept the support others give you, but to always give encouragement and support back. Some of the nicest people you will ever meet are runners and triathletes. I have made many wonderful, long-lasting friendships during my athletic career. But above all, just have fun.


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