Grand Rapids Triathlon Race Crew

Lori Ott

ADMINISTRATIVE

This is my fifth year on the staff of the Grand Rapids Tri. In 2013 it was my first triathlon as an athlete and it’s still my favorite course. Up until this year, I’ve been a Sprint distance triathlete, but I’m changing my game up a bit as I work towards earning the West MI Endurance Award this year. After months of training for my first 70.3, I have a whole new appreciation for the athletes who do longer distances. I’ll be looking forward to crossing that finish line. When not working on organizing triathlons throughout the year, I’m busy organizing the lives of my three sons (10, 15, 15) and enjoying adventures with my husband of 23 years.

Jason Miller

AID STATIONS/BIKE

Back in 2006, I saw a race where people were swimming, biking and running. I thought those people are nuts, but I always like new adventures and I said to myself, “I can do that.” Since then I have spent a lot of money on special shoes, watches, bikes and tight clothes. I have completed many races from sprint distance to full Ironman. I enjoy seeing people accomplish their goals and finish races that I once thought was nuts. I am thankful to have the support of my wife Sara and our two girls Marysa and Samantha. Without their support, I wouldn’t be able to be involved in this great sport.

Courtney Babcock

AID STATIONS/RUN

I started participating in organized races in 2012 but have been enthusiastically active my entire life. I found my joy for running in elementary school, joined the track team in high school and focused on speed training in college. I have enjoyed the adrenaline of racing and the motivation to set new personal records. I became involved with triathlons through my husband, who has competed in a variety of distances in races around West Michigan. I am excited to be back for another year to meet the awesome athletes and work with our outstanding volunteers to put on a best-in-class event.

Brian McLane

AID STATIONS/SUPPLY

I have played soccer and other sports since I was in middle school and have made physical activity an important part of my life. I began practicing yoga about seven years ago, which has helped a lot with strength, endurance, and peace of mind. I never enjoyed running, and throughout my life, I have worked on cardio by participating in team sports. I work at Priority Health in product development on consumer-engaged health plans and fundamentally believe that staying in good shape and eating well are the keys to maintaining a good quality of life in the long run (pardon the pun).

Tim Guikema

ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION

I have been involved in Triathlons since 2010. Starting off with a neighborhood Tri, Lech Lecha, I crossed the finish line and fell in love with this type of racing. I’ve been with the GR Tri for 5 years and would not miss the opportunity to race/help out and be involved in this race. I will back helping pick up YOUR TRASH. Please “Give a hoot, don’t pollute!!”

Chris Gates

EXPO

As a young boy I remember watching my father compete in tris, I had no idea that someday we’d be doing them together. Five years ago my father challenged me to 3 months of sobriety. I challenged him with 3 months of a healthier lifestyle and a fitness program, we agreed to compete in the Reeds Lake Triathlon together after our 90 days was up. We had such a blast together we wanted to take it to the next level. The next year we did the GR Tri together. Last year we did the MiTi Half together, and this year we’ll complete the MiTi Full together. It’s been such an experience to be able to compete in these events with my father, pushing the limits of our bodies and improving our mental and physical health every step, pedal, and stroke of the way. I’m a Network Engineer during the day and dabble in semi-professional photography on the side.

Lonna Blair

FINISH LINE

In 2005, I became inspired watching a local triathlon in Grand Rapids, MI. If all those people could do a triathlon, then so could I! My first triathlon was in September 2006 and thus began the addiction. I’ve completed every triathlon distances from Sprint to Full. I’ve also participated in several bike tours/races ranging from 50 to 100 milers, hills to flats and running races of all distances including marathons. I’ve learned how important it is to give back – to the volunteers, to the participants. I’m happy to do this as a Champion.

Don Goetcheus

KIDS’ TRIATHLON

In 2007 I was minding my own business swimming laps a couple days a week and mountain biking to stay in shape. But these sports, on my own, weren’t getting the workouts that I needed. So I started running for the first time in my life. Within a year I had finished my first full marathon. In 2008 a friend, with whom I swam on the high school swim team, asked me to join him at a Master swim practice. He mentioned a group that was getting together to transport disabled individuals around at triathlons and he wanted me to be a part of it. That was the beginning of My Team Triumph. My experience with that proved life-changing, as I had been bitten by the triathlon bug. I have worked my way up to multiple Half distance tris, multiple marathons, and a few bike races each year. My down time is spent with my two teenage boys and as a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services.

Todd Bradford

MOTO-PATROL & BIKE COURSE

I am an avid cyclist with a passion for all things two-wheeled. Between weekend rides and commuting to work on either my bike or motorcycle, I often forget what it’s like to drive a car during the summer months. This is Todd’s seventh year heading up the Moto-Patrol, which provides race support for the bike course and paces the bike and run leaders for each distance. In addition, this will mark his sixth year coordinating the bike course volunteers.

Eric Mentalewicz

PACKET PICKUP

Due to a health issue in 2015, I decided to change my lifestyle and lose some weight. I lost over 70 pounds and found myself in the best shape of my life. I got the idea to compete in a triathlon and began training for the GR Tri. That was my first triathlon and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I instantly became hooked and plan to participate in many more. I have made it my passion to lead a healthy lifestyle and to help everyone I can do the same for themselves. My wife Stephanie and I have 5 children and I want to continue to show them you can do anything you set your mind to.

Rocky Babcock

ROAD CLOSURES

I have always been an active person but have never really been much of a run/bike/swimmer until 2012 when I started biking. I originally started out as only a biker but transitioned over the years while looking for new ways to stay active. My wife and I have been running since we’ve been together and continually do races together and are always there to support each other. Since 2012 I have participated in up to 7 Triathlons each year and have enjoyed every one. I have always enjoyed being part of the races and am now happy to be a part of the team that makes these races so great.

Victoria Brown

RUN COURSE

Sports and physical fitness have always been an important part of my life.  While on vacation a few years ago, I was discussing with my sister how it has always been a goal of mine to complete a triathlon, even though I had anxiety about open water swimming.  A few months later I decided to take the plunge!  I connected with athletes in the endurance community, found a swim coach, learned how to swim and within a few months started training for my first triathlon, which was 5 months later.  I was hooked ever since!!  Over the past couple of years I have gone on to complete several triathlons, 5/3 River Bank Run, many ½ marathons, MSU Grand Fondo, The Marine Corp Marathon, IMOhio- ½ iron man, and have competed in USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals.  When I am not competing, I love to give back to the community that has embraced me, by volunteering for My Team Triumph in addition to assisting aspiring athletes. I am a firm believer in anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

Amy Larson

SET UP & TEAR DOWN

In 2013, my sister and friend told me I should try a triathlon with them – I did, and I was hooked. I joined TriToFinish, and competed in over 20 triathlons from super sprints up to a full aquabike. I was lucky to win a spot via lottery and competed in the bucket list ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ Triathlon out in California and discovered a massive love for open water swimming. I have swam across the Straits of Mackinac, an ultra-marathon swim (9.2miles) in Chattanooga, TN and about 10-15 10k swims. This summer I will be swimming 25 miles in Lake Huron to train for my ultimate goal – Lake Michigan. Next year, I will hopefully make the 60mi swim across lake Michigan, from Wisconsin to Ludington to raise awareness for ALS. I have an amazing group of friends who love this sport right here in West Michigan and decided volunteering would be the best way to give back and still be a part of all the fun!

Adam Baker

SET UP & TEAR DOWN

I got into endurance racing approx. 6 years ago and have done everything from simple 5k’s to full Ironman distance with some ultras in there for good measure. So, I’ve seen a lot of examples of what works and what doesn’t work in regards to race set-up and execution. The most unique set-up from a triathlon race I did several years ago, was a dual transition set up where they had 2 separate transition areas. While it seemed to flow well for the athlete, and just required more time in the morning for prepping two transition bags, I can imagine how difficult it was for the race staff to set up and manage two areas; or the ultra distance race that did not have any aid stations and was entirely athlete crew supported. Having a well thought out and planned race set-up is critical to its success not only for the athletes, but also for the many volunteers and staff who put in their time and energy to set up the race site. I’m happy to be back helping to support the GR Tri staff and athletes again for setting up this amazing race! Good luck to everyone!

Jill Martinek

SIGNAGE – BIKE COURSE

I have been involved in sports almost my whole life. My dad bought me my first set of golf clubs when I was eight years old and my first road bike when I was 13. I really got into running in college and started competing in races soon after starting a teaching career. After my children were born I took time away from my career to stay home. My “go get ‘em” attitude, however, didn’t change and I discovered I could train for half marathons and triathlons while pushing and pulling along my babies. I did my first tri in 2008 and my first half marathon in 2010. I love all aspects of racing, from competing to directing and look forward to being the Sign Champion for the bike course this year!

Jennifer Baker

SIGNAGE – RUN COURSE

For too long, I was an on-again/off-again exerciser. As I saw the years going by, I knew I needed to establish a habit of regular exercise not only to help me feel better and stay healthy but also to set a good example for my kids. I wanted them to see how important it is to incorporate fitness into your life. The solution: I challenged myself to do 3 triathlons in my 39th year. My first was the GR Tri Sprint in 2012. Now I love being on race staff almost as much as training and racing myself.

Chelsea Montes

SOCIAL MEDIA & MARKETING

I am new to the Grand Rapids area after moving here in July. Originally a Traverse City native, I have lived in many places such as Minnesota, Colorado and even Ecuador, but I am very excited to finally be back in my home state. While I have not officially competed in a triathlon myself, I have a love for the triathlon world and community after working and traveling as a Media Delegate and Social Media Manager for the International Triathlon Union for over four years. One of my most memorable triathlon moments of my career was witnessing Gwen Jorgensen win the very first Gold Medal for the USA at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. I am excited to join the MiTi and GR Tri team and hopefully, with some swim lessons, my goal is to compete in my very first triathlon this summer!

Adam Veltema

SWIM COURSE

Triathlon has been part of my family for over 12 years now.  I’ve spent most of my life in the water, but didn’t “learn” to swim till about 12 years ago.  From there I went on to race many local sprint triathlons, 5k’s and marathons, and worked up to Ironman races. As I love racing, I also feel volunteering is an important part of triathlon. I have volunteered for almost every position you can for a triathlon as a benefit is great spectating! My wife and I, have been coordinating portions of races for almost as long as we have been racing and that understanding helps some of the best races around! I am also a Certified Lifeguard and am currently trying to grow West Michigan’s awareness on how important lifeguards are when we race.  I am honored to be part of the Grand Rapids Triathlon as Swim Course Champion.

Bill Ott

TECHNICAL SUPPORT / PARKING

After getting hooked on the gateway drug of a 5k in my mid-thirties, I continued my downward spiral, experimenting with events from mud runs through a Half Iron triathlon, finally settling on my fix of choice, the ultramarathon. I’m the unusual triathlete who enjoys the swim and run but has a general loathing for the bike. I’ll need to get over that before tackling a Full some day. After my early morning runs, I also enjoy frying bacon shirtless, narrating life to my wife’s Facebook audience, and relaxing on race day to the dulcet tones of Larry Crabbe.

Jane Garrett

TRANSITION

I have been doing triathlons since 2009 and have competed in the GR Tri every year since it originated. I have completed 4 Half Ironman distance races, including the Grand Rapids 70.3 two times. I love this race, it has always been a favorite of mine. I am excited to be on the volunteer side of the race this year. It will give me a chance to share my knowledge of triathlon with others. When I am not racing I am spending time with my two children, Jack and Molly, who keep me very busy with their sports of hockey and volleyball. I have been a teacher for 21 years and enjoy sharing my racing experience with them.

Heather Gluszewski

VIP

I began supporting family members participating in triathlons since 2008. I quickly learned what a fun, healthy, and community based sport it is. I love being a spectator, the excitement of the crowd, cheering on the participants, and I still get goose bumps watching people cross the finish line. My focus has been on giving back to the community with my time, efforts, and skills. I have had the opportunity to get involved with some amazing organizations and meet some wonderful people. I serve on a number of boards and committees including Spectrum Health Cancer Patient & Family Advocacy Council (council member), West Michigan Works! Workforce Development (board member), and Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance (board member). I also have been actively involved with Grand Rapid Sister Cities International, Athena, Junior Achievement, Gilda’s Club Red, Michigan Women’s Foundation, and American Cancer Society. I live in Hudsonville, with my dog Hank who is a frequent spectator at the races as well.

Kari Olmstead

VOLUNTEER

I started running my senior year in high school after a volleyball injury. Fifteen plus years later, it has become my passion. I have completed multiple 5k’s, 10k’s and a half marathon. My ultimate goal would be to complete a full marathon. I love being a part of the Priority Health Team of Champions and love being involved with the Grand Rapids Triathlon!

For more information about the Grand Rapids Triathlon please contact us here.