Charlie Johnson, January 14, 2018

Consistent. Disciplined. Volunteer. Leader. Atmospheric. Competitor.  These all describe the 2017 Female Triathlete of the Year.

You can find a lot of people out there who are driven and work hard.  But then there are those in a league of their own.  They stay consistent and disciplined day in and day out – dedicated to being the best they can be.  You can literally watch their mind in motion when the say they are going to do something – and at that moment, you have no doubt that they are going to follow through. This year’s award recipient is one of those people.  She does this in all aspects of her life.

Volunteerism is something she is no stranger to.  Her dedication to the sports of triathlon and running has stayed consistent throughout the years.  She has assisted the Gulf Winds Triathletes behind the scenes in strengthening the club to what it is today.  She volunteers at the Youth Triathlon Series put on by Mike and Steph Weyant.  On top of all this, she is a co-director of the well-known 30K & 15K race which will be run in less than one week.

She is multitalented in so many ways of which I’ll only speak a few.  She grew up as a swimmer and gymnast in Panama (not redneck Riviera Panama City, we are talking the country Panama with the canal).  Soon after moving to Tallahassee in the late 90s, she began coaching gymnastics at the Trousdell Gymnastics Center which she still does every day after she gets off work.  She now has coached young girls for 18 years and has given them tools not only to be great athletes, but to go on to be very successful in life.

Leadership is a trait this person shows daily.  She leads a weekly run that starts ridiculously early.  She can be found at the pool every day of the week mixing it up with former All-American swimmers. She rides her bike on the trainer before most of us are awake. And she goes to bed while ALL of us are awake!  Again, consistency like no other.

Atmospheric can also be used to describe this person.  Wherever she goes, people are attracted to her presence.  She always has a good short story to share.  For example, one day our own Gary Griffin asked her if she remembered back to a cold winter marathon in 1983 to which she flatly quipped, “I wasn’t even one year old Gary.”  She always knows how to make people laugh or smile.  She has become known to a close group of her triathlon friends simply as “Billy Goat” for the way she climbs hills on her bike.

Competitive would be an understatement in describing this young lady. Simply put – she wants to win and knows how to do it.  She absolutely destroyed the field in the Tri Club’s Grand Prix competition amassing a total of 157 points.  The nearest competitor was almost 30 points behind her.  Her finishes included 4 overall first place, two overall second place and a 6th place age group finish at the highly competitive Ironman 70.3 Augusta which includes a swim of 1.2 miles, a bike of 56 miles and a half marathon run.  She did all of that in a time of 5 hours and 7 minutes.  Even though this was a personal record, she was so set on breaking 5 hours that she didn’t allow herself to have a slice of cake after that race.  Go figure!

On top of all of this, she finished third overall in the track club’s Grand Prix competition.  She is a well-rounded, tough athlete who knows what competition is about.

Again – Consistent. Disciplined. Volunteer. Leader. Atmospheric. Competitor.

If I haven’t already given it away as to who this is, she just won Female Runner of the Year in 2016.  There is only one other person who has accomplished the feat of winning both runner and triathlete of the year.  That truly is rarified air.  Keep an eye on her, because she is doing nothing but getting faster and faster.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the 2017 Female Triathlete of the Year, Jillian Heddaeus!