An insight into Eau Claire’s triathlon club

    Swimming, running and biking: What else?


    Photo by Will Seward

    The triathlon club finishes a run at the McPhee Olson center.

    The triathlon club is one of the 25 sports clubs on campus, with members of both athletic and nonathletic backgrounds.

    “We’re welcoming to anyone who wants to come and workout with a group and stay healthy, and build that team relationship,” said Olivia Jonasen, a fourth-year accounting and economics student.

    Jonasen is a co-captain and treasurer for the team. She said she has been a part of the club since her first year here at UW-Eau Claire.

    “I’ve done three triathlons … I was never really into sports all that much,” Jonasen said. “The lesson I’ve learned is, really, you can do anything as long as you take time to learn it and stay committed to practices and everything like that.”
    Andrew Ihm, a fifth-year student in student teaching for math education who has been with the club for four years, had a perspective as someone with an athletic background.

    “I know that, from a sports aspect, I’ve learned more about my sport of running,” Andrew said. “In high school, I was always ‘go at it, go at it, go at it,’ but I understand that you can’t go hard every day (now).”

    Ihm said part of what allows him to hold himself back in his triathlon training, specifically running, is that he believes that he will be able to run for most or all of his life. 

    Ihm also plays a lot of intramural basketball and says that because he won’t always be able to play, every game counts.

    Running has always been a part of Ihm’s life.  Ihm mentioned he began running track in seventh grade, and cross country throughout all of high school.

    Even with this contrast of athletic background — Jonasen owning she wasn’t into sports before, while Ihm has been competing and training athletically for a long time — Jonasen assured that anyone is welcome.

    “It’s really accessible to anyone, you don’t have to be an athlete or anything like that to join,” Jonasen said. “As long as you just want to have fun, have a good attitude, we want you on the team.”

    Ihm touched on how training for triathlons has led to life lessons, explaining that he learned to not take things so seriously all the time. 

    When training and working on life goals in general, Ihm said people need those rest days to rejuvenate and relax to keep themselves from getting burnt out and that not everything is a competition.

    At the same time, he did say it isn’t ever an excuse to give any less than his best when competing.

    Outside of competing, Ihm shared that the club has participated in volunteering for local events, such as a kids’ triathlon at the YMCA, Run Santa Run and the Haunted Hustle.

    Alongside volunteering for local events, the club also started to host its own indoor triathlon meet in 2018, which Ihm said they hope to keep as an annual event, having successfully hosted it this year as well.

    When looking beyond triathlons, Ihm shared that it was through fellow club members that he learned and decided to participate in other things such as Ironman Triathlons and Ragnar Relays, referencing the 21 miles he ran in the Ragnar Relay in Minnesota this past summer.

    Athletic background or not, competitive or casual, lifelong or just in it for the experience, both Ihm and Jonasen spoke for the team when they said that members take joy in being a part of what they have found to be an enthusiastic club on campus that welcomes people of any background and experience level to join in on the training and the fun that comes alongside it.

    Seward can be reached at [email protected]