Friday, September 22, 2017

Kona Profiles: Heather "War Eagle" Casey

The Ironman World Championships ("Kona") is quickly approaching, taking place Oct. 14th. As you know, it's incredibly competitive to qualify and a major accomplishment to do so. Like last year, we'll be catching up with our local Cinderellas... getting to know them better as a tri community and cheering them on as they get ready for the ball!

  • Name: Heather Casey
  • Age Group: F4549
  • Qualified: "The Road to Kona" (via Ironman Boulder) – June 2017

What’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

I started swimming competitively as a year round sport when I was 6 years old. My age group swim coach was Team USA swim coach David Marsh. He was a graduate student at Auburn University at the time after swimming for Auburn. I competed in my first triathlon 31 years ago at the age of 14 as a relay with my dad and best friend at the West Point Lakes Tri in Georgia.

Being an Alabama native, you’re clearly a huge Crimson Tide fan, correct? ;) What brought you out west and how does Utah compare to what some affectionately refer to as the “Dirty South?”

Let’s clear this up:) I was raised in Auburn and graduated from Auburn University. I am a die hard Auburn fan! War Damn Eagle! I lived in Park City for a short stint during the time period of the Winter Olympics and managed a restaurant on Main Street. I left the area after the Olympics but never lost my love of the mountains. In the fall of 2014 my husband Pat and I wanted a big change to align better with our endurance training and coaching. We gave more than half of our belongings away and loaded up a U-Haul headed to Utah. I still pinch myself every time I see the mountain views! This is home! 

How would you summarize your 2017 season overall?

My priority over the past 3 years has been to build my coaching experience to become a full time triathlon coach rather than coaching as a hobby. I had not raced in over two years coming in to this season. I dedicated my time 100% to my coached athletes and supporting their racing. This year was a fun challenge to regain my fitness and get back in to competition shape. I raced mostly Ironman events while representing Coeur Sports on their ambassador team. I only raced one local race, Salem Sprint winning first place in my age group. My long course racing was comprised of Ironman Oceanside 70.3, Ironman Saint George 70.3, Ironman Boulder 140.6 and coming soon Kona!

Probably answered above, but where did you qualify, and what was your reaction when you found out you were going to Kona?

I was automatically entered in to a contest I knew nothing about called The Road To Kona Through Boulder. Ten athletes registered for Ironman Boulder were drawn randomly to race Kona. I was notified through a Facebook Live video from race director Dave Christensen in Boulder. I was in shock! I literally did not know about the contest! This was December 23 that I was notified. It was the best Christmas gift ever, aside from my Christmas Day engagement to Pat the previous year!

What are you most looking forward to and most terrified about thinking ahead to the race?

I’m looking forward to celebrating all the challenges each competitor has overcome to reach the race. We all have our own stories of triumph. I know mine but we all have something huge that we’ve overcome in life to get where we are. I want to celebrate my victories and my life failures all at once by putting my body to the ultimate test of riding in to the epic winds and facing the heat of the lava fields. There will be many emotions on race day. I hope I get my crying done before the finish line. LOL! 

Oceanside, with fast SLTC bee Xavier Lucio in the background

Locally, we see your name at two opposite ends of the racing spectrum this season: the fast & fun Salem Sprint and the brutal St. George 70.3. What’s your favorite distance, and what are your favorite local races you’ve competed or spectated at?

My favorite distance to race is 70.3. It is pretty attainable to train for without becoming a part time job like Ironman. Every time I do an Ironman (this will be my 5th) I think it will be my last then I wake up the next day ready for another entry. Ironman Saint George 70.3 is my favorite Utah race. I competed in it twice and coached many training camps on the course. I love the beauty and the challenging terrain and weather.

Sage Maaranen included a picture of you and her in her interview after a hard session on the trainer. In your opinion, who comprise the men’s and women’s podiums for most impressive feats of sweating at BAM HQ?

I interpret this question literally as who sweats the most at BAM which is hands down Mick Campbell for the men with a runner up of Sam Hobi. The women’s field sweat winner may be Tracy Campbell (sweaty couple award) with runner up Skye Moench. So much sweating goes on at BAM’s Indoor cycling!

When did you get started with coaching, and what are your favorite aspects of it?

I started coaching over ten years ago as a strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level for Alabama State University as their assistant strength coach. I started coaching triathlon in 2012 and quickly found my niche working with athletes that had previous injuries and needed a little extra work to come back after injury. Many coaches won’t work with injury prone athletes due to risk. My background as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist provides the experience needed for me to feel comfortable working with high risk populations. I now focus my coaching on long course athletes from intermediate to pro.

What do you hope to take away from your Kona experience?

This will be my third year in a row being at Ironman World Championships but first year racing. Each year I have volunteered at the finish line and watched athletes achieve the ultimate dream of crossing the most famous finish line in the world. I want that memory of finishing ingrained forever in my bank of experiences.

Anything else you want to share?

I am president of BAM Endurance Club and coach full time. My website is 

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