Carroll County Times
Carroll County

NC grad Hursey giving new sport a Tri

After excelling in cross country and track during high school, North Carroll graduate Katie Hursey has found yet another sport where she can shine.

Hursey has emerged onto the triathlon national scene.

Hursey, who made her triathlon debut while still in high school when she and her dad took part in a Father's Day race, began swimming as a young child. In the world of triathlon, she said, this put her ahead of the game.

"A lot of people cannot swim and run," said Hursey, a six-time Times Runner/Athlete of the Year who has actually been a swimmer longer than she has been a runner.

Hursey recently took third overall, first in her age group, at her initial USA triathlon. Though only 23, getting to that point has taken years. And a lot of training miles.

After beginning to run competitively in high school as a sophomore at NC, Hursey won the outdoor track 1,600-meter run state title in the same year. In what she calls her most memorable high school running memory due to its unexpectedness, Hursey crossed the finish line in 5 minutes flat.

On to college Hursey went, earning a scholarship to run at Syracuse University. While there she competed in cross country, the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5k track run.

Hursey said all the different races helped prepare her for triathlons.

Cross country has allowed Hursey to practice on different courses, and the steeplechase has helped her become mentally tougher. According to Hursey, the 5k track run has taught her to become even stronger mentally as she said it can be difficult to focus after running around a track for an extended amount of laps.

Shortly after graduating from college, Hursey arrived at the Olympic training center to attend the USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program's camp.

According to her blog on the USA triathlon website, Hursey had never done a swim over 3,500 yards in the pool or participated in a group bike ride before the week began.

"It was really beneficial," she said of the experience.

Instead of focusing more on the volume of activity at the training center, she said the coaches focused on skills and technique.

When asked what she learned, Hursey couldn't begin to describe all the knowledge she gained. Cycling skills, swimming and drills were all focal points of her week with some of the top coaches in the world. Aside from the intense training, Hursey's experience became even more memorable due to all the "amazing, helpful people" she had the chance to meet.

On Aug. 18, Hursey competed in her first USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Burlington, Vt.

Before competing Hursey said, "I wanted to win my age group and get top three."

And that is exactly what she did. Posting a time of 2:07:44, Hursey took third overall in the women's race and earned the top spot in the 20-24 female age grouping. Even though the bike leg was her weakest part of the competition, her strong swim and run propelled her to the top.

Hursey described her feelings afterwards as being proud of herself that she accomplished so much and showed all her doubters that she could succeed.

Due to her stellar finish, Hursey's future in triathlons is even brighter. She will compete in her first pro race next March.

Hursey earned her pro card at Age Group Nationals and the Chicago lifetime Fitness Triathlon, where she finished first in the Elite-Amateur Female grouping.

Hursey said she likes to think the Olympics are an attainable goal and that's what she plans to work toward.

She says training for triathlons has been beneficial and keeps her healthy, and that she enjoys training for each of the legs.

"I think the best part about it though is getting to travel different places and meet different people," said Hursey, "and compete in something I love."