Plans had to be pushed back, but Jean Draper accomplished her goal of finishing an Olympic-distance triathlon. What’s more, she qualified to compete at the world championship in Australia.
“It was very, very overwhelming, much more than I thought it would be,” she says of finishing. “That I did it, to be there, the crowd, and wow, I did come full circle.”
Four years ago, the mother of two, ages 4 and 7, lost her foot in a car accident.
Draper says she had been doing a lot of running events and was just getting into triathlons before the accident. She had competed in a few sprint distance triathlons and was training in biking, swimming and running.
Nautica was her first Olympic-distance triathlon, and now she’s making plans to go to Australia with the help of her community, sponsorships and fundraisers. “That seems a little bit surreal. It’s still kind of like, is that right?” she says of her spot at worlds.
Wachendorf recently won the Wauconda Sprint Triathlon by nine minutes (1:05:11) and finished second in the Harbor Lights Triathlon and Big Foot Triathlon, which he won last year. Although more races are expected, his schedule’s pretty full. “Whatever I can work in I try to race,” he says.
He also coaches swimming at McHenry Aquatic Club. “They asked me if I wanted to start up a more competitive program, and I was happy to help,” he says. “I love doing triathlon, and swimming has been very good to me, so I like to give back to the community.”
He concentrates on Olympic distance and usually trains alone. “I train so early, not many people want to get up and train with me.”
Today, Wachendorf is motivated by his kids, two of whom compete in triathlons. “To see them do well and enjoy it, it makes you feel good,” he says. “I try to be a good example to my kids, to let them know how hard I work and see what you can do if you work really hard.”