Gunnison mom balances competitive drive and life with kids
Milestone in the family
Jackie and Ashley have made sports a staple of their relationship since they started dating as Western State College students. Although he’s usually faster than she is in triathlons, she often places higher in her respective age group than he does in his.
At last fall’s Xterra World Championship on Maui, Jackie was 17th among all women, fourth among amateurs and third in her age group. And in that race, she beat Ashley, who finished 159th in the men’s field and 19th in his age group, for the first time.
"She caught me in the run in the last mile and beat me by about 30 seconds," he said. "I was yelling and screaming for her when she passed me. But my goal is to not let it happen again, in a very fun and competitive way. But she’s got her sights set now, so it probably will."
Jackie Burt’s pursuit of pro status mirrors the path of Vail’s Lisa Isom, who came into her own as a triathlete two years after giving birth to her daughter, Wilder. Last season, the 33-year-old Isom completed her second year as a pro with a 10th-place finish at the Xterra World Championship.
Although there is no scientific evidence
|Jackie Burt, 34, says the change in perspective gained after childbirth has given her an edge as a triathlete. She’s hoping to earn professional status by midsummer. (Post / Helen H. Richardson)|
yet to support it, there is a growing belief in the endurance sports community that women have a higher VO2 max – the measurement of how efficiently the body processes oxygen – in the years after giving birth. Speculation aside, Isom and Burt agree that the biggest change is all about perspective.
"You get what I call the ‘mama-bear instinct,’ this fierce drive that I never had before I had a baby," Isom said. "All the little stuff seems to go to the back burner, and I only focus on what’s important. It used to be if I fell off my bike during a race, I’d think, ‘Oh, no, my race is over.’ Now things like that are just part of the race. In other words, a bad hair day isn’t going to ruin your race."
To earn an elite license and be classified as a pro, an athlete must finish in the top 10 and be within 10 percent of the overall winner’s time in at least three USA Triathlon-sanctioned events within a 12-month span. Burt hopes to pull that off when she returns to the Buffalo Creek Off-Road Triathlon on June 10 in Bailey.
"Going pro is for those who have pretty much reached the end of what they can do in their age group, and they know it’s time to move up," said Dave Nicholas, a Honolulu-based Xterra national race director. "It’s a brass ring, another incentive to shoot for."
Turning pro means being able to win prize money at regional, national and world championship events. But, as Nicholas points out, turning pro initially means finishing deep in the pack for most athletes.
"I can kiss the podium goodbye," Jackie Burt said. "But I’m ready for that. I’ve found myself, and I know I’m ready to compete at the next level."