And that pretty much describes how Jillian Petersen decided to try triathlon racing. Jillian is now a highly successful professional triathlete and, we’re thrilled to say, has partnered with Triflare for sponsorship. Jillian didn’t always aspire to triathlon racing. Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, she ran and swam but focused on the running through high school. After winning a scholarship to the University of Missouri in running, Jillian gave up swimming entirely. Collegiate success followed but after graduation, Jillian needed a new challenge. Her dad mentioned that he’d seen in the media that a former sometime competitor of Jillian’s was doing triathlons. Jillian thought, “Well, if she can do that, I can, too!” After all, she knew how to swim well and she certainly had the running conquered. But she didn’t even own a bike. So guess what her dad gave her for Christmas.
Her first race was in spring of 2006. By the end of that year she was the U.S. champion for her age group, which qualified her to represent the United States at Age Group Worlds in Lausanne, Switzerland. The next year, Jillian turned professional. By 2012, she was ranked as one of the top 50 female triathletes in the world. This ranking helped the United States earn the maximum number of allowed spots in the London Olympics (a ranking system is used in which athletes earn qualifying points to earn berths for their countries). Only eight countries can earn up to three spots and the United States was the first to do so based on its athletes’ points.
Jillian says that the 2013 season was somewhat disappointing for her. However, she wound up the season on a great note by finishing in the top five overall in the Life Time Tri Series. It was a battle to the end, with Jillian chasing down another racer and passing her just before the finish line. “I was maybe 45 seconds back (from her) coming out of the water, and then I went off course on the bike and ended up 70 seconds behind her after the bike,” says Jillian. “I HAD to catch her, and I did, with maybe 200 meters left until the finish line. I was so tired; I just lay down on the pavement after crossing the line. It was my hardest run all year—and definitely the best!”
We talked with Jillian about some of the ways she stayed motivated, especially when things weren’t going well. “Well, I had the biggest cheering section yet at that race”, she says. My dad was all over the place, giving me time checks to help me out—and I had cousins, my uncle, and all sorts of family there. It was so great.” Now that’s a great example of what could have been a flameout being handled with Flare instead!
So that’s a little bit about Jillian, for those of you in the Triflare Nation. As we look ahead to the 2014 triathlon season, we wish Jillian a super, successful year and are so excited to have her in Triflare suits.
Written By: Elizabeth Epperson, Triflare blogger extraordinaire.