2007 Triathlete of the Year - Seeley Lovett

Presented by George Palmer

The triathlon’s roots can be traced back to 1974, Mission Bay, Southern California where a group of friends began training together. Amongst them were runners, swimmers and cyclists and before long training sessions turned into informal races. Directed and conceived by Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan the first Mission Bay Triathlon was held of September 25th 1974 and welcomed 74 athletes. Triathlon’s foundation had been set!

In Hawaii, 1978, an argument arose regarding which of the three disciplines required the greatest endurance. At that time Hawaii hosted the Waikiki Rough Water Swim (2.4 miles), The Oahu Bike Race (112 miles) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles). Originally events in themselves, they were rolled into one to become the “Hawaii Ironman Triathlon”.

The event attracted 15 athletes and of them only 12 crossed the finish line. By 1982 the Hawaii Ironman gained extensive coverage on ABC World Wide of Sports and participation levels increased to 580 competitors. Who can forget the graphic footage of pro Julie Moss staggering, collapsing and willing her way as she crawled on her hands and knees across the finish line? That image galvanized the public’s perception that the sport of triathlon was truly an endurance sport.

I give you this brief Triathlon History 101 because, despite the short period of time this sport has existed, our 2007 Triathlete of the Year was not even born yet. When I think of this person I ask, what is it that separates this triathlete from other triathletes besides the seconds, minutes, hours, inches, feet, meters, or miles in a race? If I were to cite every race in which this athlete participated and in what place this competitor finished, it would read like there were no others in those events. This triathlete borders on being “untouchable.” What we usually see, hear and read is about the end result. What many of us do not see is how that person got to that level of being “untouchable.” It is the thankless and endless hours and miles of committed training that has moved this person to the front of the pack. This person has “figured it out,” knowing what works and what doesn’t work, winning races with regularity.

I have seen swimmers, cyclists and runners that have what I call simply “it” in their respective sports; however, it is hard to find triathletes that have “it” in all three disciplines. What secret ingredient, potion or equipment elevates a person to the next level? It’s not in an energy bar or in a bottle or the on bike you ride. It’s “it”, putting in the extra work and making the sacrifices to get to that next level. I have had the opportunity to personally observe this individual, always from behind, pushing the boundaries, challenging themselves and saying goodbye to their comfort zone. 

There is another factor that separates this triathlete from the crowd. It’s the practice of “perfecting perfection.” This person gets the most out of what training time is available by focusing their efforts when training. Practice does not make perfect – perfect practice makes perfect. Real improvement comes from monitoring your technique, pace, heart rate, cadence, breathing, injuries and every corner of the triathlon training world. The way this person focuses during practice, makes it much easier for that individual to nail every race.

Despite all the accomplishments, successes and accolades this extraordinary athlete has garnered, including “GWTC 2004 Female Runner of the Year,” there is one significant event that looms on the horizon this year in which this triathlete will be a first timer. 

Manny, would you please escort your future bride and 2007 Triathlete of the Year, Seeley Lovett, to the stage.