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Meet the hardworking people behind Grand Rapids Triathlon and the ones who make race day happen year after year. As we prepare for the debut (and hopefully last) edition of the Grand Rapids Virtual Triathlon 9.5 this June, we celebrate the people who volunteer their time and have made GR Tri one of the best triathlons in the state…. or we like to think in the world!

Name: Lonna Blair
Age:  51
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
Occupation: Director of Human Resources
Champion Position: Finish Line

How did you get involved with Grand Rapids Triathlon?
A friend of mine invited me to participate as a Champion so my first Champion job was Expo along with my friend in 2014.  I also participated that year and was hooked after that.

Have you ever raced Grand Rapids Triathlon?  
Yes, I raced in the 2014 National and qualified for worlds in the Half Distance with a time of 5:22:51…a PR for me.  This was also the first year I was a Champion for the Expo.  I did the expo on Saturday and raced on Sunday.

Do you have a favorite memory at the event? 
Yes, as a participant racing in 2014.  See above.

Any race mishaps over the years you like to laugh at now?
The year we ran out of medals to give out at the finish line.  I typically carry a notebook with me so the moment we were out of medals, I jotted down the names of the individuals who didn’t get one right after they finished along with their contact information. We sent each person a medal and most participants were understanding, though a few were upset.

What do you love about triathlon?
Everything.  I love the satisfaction of accomplishing whatever goal I set (which are many) in training, racing, recovering and sharing it all with friends.  I also love watching the participants racing and my favorite part is the emotion on their faces and family’s faces as and after they cross the finish line.  I’m so proud of them and feel both elated and like crying (for joy) all at the same time.

What is your favorite thing about Grand Rapids Triathlon?
Working together with the team of Champions to accomplish a common goal – all of us are a piece of the bigger puzzle and fit together so nicely.  Love the energy and excitement on race day and then the Champion gathering afterward to celebrate our successes.  Watching the varying emotions of participants as and after the cross the finish line.  Some are upset they didn’t get goal time, others are thrilled to tears at their accomplishments, and everything in between.

Your perfect post-race meal? 

Why should someone still do the Grand Rapids Virtual Triathlon 9.5? 
Several reasons.  Stay in the game, enjoy a different way of competing, one of a kind event…may not happen again (but maybe it willJ), stay in touch virtually with friends, and most of all it will be FUN!