Three friends make pact to complete first Iron Man triathlons; Sisters attend 250 ‘boot camps;’ Former hoops star stays fit with daily YMCA workouts
In terms of being a healthy community, Calhoun County has a lot of room to make gains.
According to the Robert Woods Foundation’s Conduent Healthy Communities Institute, Calhoun County ranks near the bottom of the state in overall health outcomes in 2021, coming in at No. 67 out of 83 Michigan counties. Health outcomes take into consideration length and quality of life.
Individually, everyone is on their own personal health journey. And the New Year not only represents a time for reflection but a time that many people use to make resolutions to become healthier versions of themselves.
Here are stories of some Battle Creek residents who stuck with their commitment to reaching fitness goals 2021, and the community support behind them.
Battle Creek trio make good on Ironman pact
Roughly two years of training paid off with 20 seconds of pure joy and exhaustion.
That is how Kathy Mann, Christine Guthrie and Terri Page described finishing their respective Ironman triathlons in the fall of 2021. An Ironman race is a long-distance triathlon where participants test their endurance in a single-day event by swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running a full marathon of 26.22 miles, in that order.
The trio, part of a private Facebook group dubbed “Battle Creek Badasses,” had made a pact to each complete their first full Ironman competitions in 2020 before the pandemic pushed those plans into 2021.
“There’s a lot of mental strength that goes into that. A lot of sacrifice,” Page said. “The thing that prompted me to do it; it’s something I wanted to do, and the timing, my age, family plans, this was my one shot at getting it done if I wanted to do it. We were all in the same boat that this timing was good for all of us. That is what inspired to train together and each set our separate race goals.”
To prepare for their daunting feats of endurance, the 43-year-old Guthrie, 57-year-old Mann and 55-year-old Page trained with groups such as Cereal City Athletics, which offer a triathlon training program and host a summer sprint triathlon and the Cereal City Half Marathon. The trio also relied on family for transportation and general support as they carved out numerous hours swimming, biking and running.
More than anything, Guthrie, Mann and Page had accountability and support baked into their training programs through their friendship and shared goals.
“I love these two women,” Mann said. “We will always have that special bond forever.”
Page competed in Ironman Maryland in September but did not finish due to a medical issue. When Guthrie was set to compete at Ironman Indiana on Oct. 2, she and her husband invited Page to stay with them at their hotel. The pair competed in the event together, with Guthrie finishing in 13 hours, 36 minutes, 6 seconds and Page crossing the finish line in 15:21:22. On Sept. 26, Mann completed Ironman Chattanooga in 14:09:04.
The three women all say they feel healthier than they did at the start of 2021, but they have no intention of competing in future Ironman competitions.
“It’s a bucket list thing,” Guthrie said. “Doing something that nobody, even yourself, thought you could do.”
Page added, “When I think I’m up against something that may be insurmountable, there is a way. It taught me there is a way to work through it. If this has taught me nothing else, it’s that I have two great friends.”
Sisters lean on each other to reach milestone
Rosario Uribe and Liz Rodriguez have always been active, despite juggling careers and family life with two children apiece.
But the sisters from Battle Creek determined they would approach their health and fitness more rigorously in 2021.
“I think during the pandemic, I started realizing I felt so sluggish,” Rodriguez said. “We both worked at Kellogg’s and had the opportunity to work from home, but we just sit at our desk and it’s easy to get comfortable not being as active.”
Shortly after the new year, Uribe, 37, and Rodrigez, 32, joined Burn Boot Camp in Battle Creek on a seven-day trial.
“We did it and after we felt so good, energetic,” Uribe said, “I didn’t do it because I wasn’t happy with my body or anything like that, I did it because I needed to feel healthier.”
The pair stuck with it and started attending the 6:30 a.m. boot camps, six days a week, keeping one another accountable by exchanging morning texts ensuring they would each show up.
“It’s me time, forcing myself to give myself me time,” Rodriguez said. “We work all day and have kids we’re trying to be attentive to. It’s fun, we stuck with it, done it for almost a year now. I know we can count on each other.”
The near-daily ritual of attending the boot camps led the sisters to broaden their athletic horizons, as they began running in 5Ks in the area despite never having competed in them before.
By December, the pair each achieved a big milestone: attending 250 Burn Boot Camps in a year.
As much as maintaining fitness is for themselves, both Uribe and Rodriguez said they hope their self-care habits are beneficial to the rest of their family.
“It’s so important for (my kids) to see me, living a healthy lifestyle and being active because it encourages them to do it as well,” Uribe said. “It’s getting my mom and sisters to be more active. We have two other sisters, our goal is to get them to go to camp with us.”
Former hoops star commits to YMCA workouts
When Joe Boggan commits to something, he goes all in.
The 48-year-old Battle Creek native known as “Jo Jo” found a love for basketball at a young age, putting in countless hours playing the sport at the Battle Creek YMCA.
That work helped him make headlines as the city’s leading scorer while at Battle Creek Central High School before moving on to play at Siena Heights University, where the sharpshooter had a standout four-year career.
Boggan also was also recognized for his commitment to his education, having never missed a day of school from kindergarten until his high school graduation in 1991.
Now as an adult, Boggan puts in the same level of commitment to his health, doing it at the place his fitness journey started — the Battle Creek YMCA — where his morning workouts are part of his daily ritual.
Boggan said he has followed through on his commitment to work out at the facility daily for two-to-three hours before heading off to work the second shift at Post Consumer Brands.
“The purpose of me going to the YMCA every day, I go there vs. other gyms, I grew up there,” Boggan said. “I was raised at the YMCA and YBA (Youth Basketball Academy), going there. Secondly, being an adult, it’s a mental health thing, psychologically it prepares me for whatever task I’m trying to take care of.”
Boggan is a full-service member at the YMCA, and said he is typically one of the younger individuals working out at the downtown facility in the mornings.
“I’m more around the elderly men a lot, and it’s good to talk politics and sports in the sauna,” he said. “That’s what the Y-Center provides for me. Not necessarily getting big and buff and losing 30 pounds, but a big part of it is the social side…. I lean on them to give me everyday wisdom.”
Boggan noted that his friend, David “Bubba” King Jr. motivates him to continue the daily grind of working out. And he credited a work ethic that was embedded in him at an early age for his commitment to keeping up his personal fitness routine.
“I was born a gym rat,” he said. “It was like basketball morning until night, so I adapted that basketball mentality to everyday life. It’s the same thing, bouncing the basketball, or whatever you do to better your game, just apply it to a stationary bike, a treadmill or Stairmaster.”
Contact reporter Nick Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley