Amy Galbraith always had a fascination with triathlon competitions but it wasn’t until she saw athletes in the Los Angeles Triathlon go right by her house in Venice that she thought she could join them.
Galbraith used to think that the swimming, running and cycling competition was meant solely for “super-fit athletes” — until she saw that some of the participating athletes were just like her and of all different ages.
She was 60 years old when she first decided to give the Los Angeles Triathlon a try, and she will be entering her fifth consecutive competition at the age of 64 this year.
A lifelong athlete who played volleyball at UCLA, Galbraith knew she could handle the three different stages of the triathlon and decided to take her competitive nature to a new level.
“I was always involved in athletics,” said Galbraith, a medical corporation accounts manager who has lived in Venice about 30 years. “I love competing, so it was kind of a natural progression.”
Galbraith will be among approximately 25 Venice residents who will compete in the Eighth Annual Los Angeles Triathlon, which starts with the swimming stage at Venice Beach Sunday, September 9th.
She will be among the 25 percent of competitors who are women and will also be one of the oldest female participants. The oldest woman in the triathlon is 65 years old, while the oldest man is 84, according to a triathlon spokesperson.
Galbraith is no stranger to challenging athletic competitions, as she has taken part in numerous other events including marathons, 10K runs, and combined swimming and running competitions.
Since entering the Los Angeles Triathlon four years ago, Galbraith has finished the three-sport event in other California cities and says she now averages about six of them a year.
The competition requires the athletes to have focus and discipline and is an “incredible sport of personal revelation,” Galbraith said.
“It’s so different than every other sport because it encompasses so many things that you have to prepare for,” she said. “It’s always an adventure.”
While Galbraith has tested her triathlon skills in other cities, she says she will always have a connection to the Los Angeles event because it’s where she completed her first triathlon with her good friend Ned Williamson, who died at the age of 37.
Galbraith said she competes in Los Angeles in memory of Williamson, an athlete who competed in Iron Man events and was a “mentor” to her.
When training for the triathlons, Galbraith makes sure to devote time to strengthening each of the three disciplines, by swimming four days a week, running three days a week and doing long bike rides.
She says she doesn’t excel in any one particular stage more than the other, but she added that, of the three, her experience is centered on running.
Each of the stages has its fair share of tests, but swimming is the most challenging for Galbraith, as it can be unpredictable.
“There are so many things that can go wrong,” she said of the swimming aspect.
In last year’s Los Angeles event, Galbraith improved her time from her first triathlon by nearly 50 minutes to 3 hours, 47 minutes and 38 seconds. She attributed the big jump to course experience and the use of a road bike versus a hybrid bike, but also noted that she has improved her “transition time” between stages over the years.
This year Galbraith says she is aiming to break the barrier of 3 hours, 30 minutes.
For the Venice resident, the feeling of satisfaction she gets at the end of each race is enough to make her feel like a winner.
“Just to finish it is a win,” Galbraith said. “Being able to compete at 64 is such a thrill.”
[See related story on page 15.]