Local top triathlete looking to start club to promote sport

Scott Swanson

Kambria Schumacher has developed herself into one of the top triathletes in the nation, and now she wants to help others enjoy the sport.

Triathlon, which generally includes a swim segment followed by a cycling leg and, finally a run, seems to be a sport on the rise in the Sweet Home area, with a record number of participants at last September’s Best in the West Triathlon Series at Foster Lake.

Schumacher is planning to launch the Steller Triathlon Club, based in east Linn County, to promote the sport.

The initial club meeting will be at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, in the spin cycling room at Steelhead Strength and Fitness, 1295 Main St.

“A lot of people are so uninformed,” Schumacher said, explaining why she wants to start a club. “I want people to have somewhere where they can go to get that information and help and training.”

Schumacher, 28, is a five-time winner of the sprint event (600-yard swim, 12-mile bike ride, 3.1-mile run) in the Best in the West Triathlon Series held the second weekend of September at Foster Lake. Last fall she missed the Best in the West because she was in Cozumel, Mexico, where she placed 14th in her age group at the world championships – after placing eighth in her age group at the U.S. national championships in Omaha, Neb.

“I got a podium spot, which was awesome,” she said.

Schumacher was a top middle-distance top runner at East Linn Christian Academy and then Sweet Home High School before going on to Oregon State University, where she dropped her times during two years as a cross-country and track runner for the Beavers.

In 2011 she took up the triathlon.

“I forget how I heard about the sport, but when I ran at college I got burned out with it. I still wanted to do something competitive, and I came across the triathlon.”

The transition was made easier by the fact that she’d already started swimming as cross-training for running.

These days, during the winter, she trains between 10 and 15 hours a week, riding a bicycle trainer at home when the weather’s too cold to ride the roads, running and swimming a couple of times a week.

When she’s competing, she dials back the mileage, she said, but does more intense workouts.

Though her past efforts have centered on sprint and Olympic (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run), she plans to move up to a half-Ironman distance (1.2-mile swim, 90K/56-mile bike, 13.1-mile /half marathon run) this June in Victoria, B.C.

The idea to start a triathlon club came after she noticed “a lot of excitement” about the triathlon since last year’s Best in the West event, which drew a record number of competitors overall and from Sweet Home.

She said she talked to one new Sweet Home participant, Adam Barber, who was “really excited” about the prospect of starting a triathlon club.

“I’ve come across other people who think it’s a great idea,” she said.

A club would provide the opportunity for members to train together, special clinics and events and discounts on triathlon products.

“It’s helpful to work out with others,” Schumacher said.

She has created a website, stellertriclub.com, with information about upcoming events members can participate in.

Annual membership will cost $40 for adults and $25 for students 18 and under. A special rate of $85 for a family of four is also offered.

Schumacher said she plans to have monthly meetings, as well as occasional clinics and events that will feature guest speakers discussing training, race nutrition and other aspects of triathlons, such as transitions – the change-over from one activity to another in an event, such as from the swim to the bike portion. That process can be overly time-consuming if an athlete is not prepared, she said.

“In some huge races, you really have to know where you’re at.”

Initially, training sessions will be held indoors, including group cycling sessions at Steelhead and some workouts on the track.

“Once the lake warms up, we’ll have open-water swims,” she said.

Schumacher said apparel will be available soon, designed by her sister Shavonne Schumacher, who designs and makes her own competition gear.

Kambria Schumacher welcomes runners and swimmers who are interested in training with triathletes, she said.

“It’s open to anybody that’s interested.”

Prospective participants can reach Schumacher at (541) 990-9477.