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Athlete Profile: Wendy Mader

June 13, 2012

Coach Wendy Mader Transitioned from Seasoned Triathlete to Distance Runner

Wendy Mader started competing in swimming at age 6. In 1992, after her freshman year of college as a swimmer, Mader was asked to swim as part of a team triathlon. In 1993, Mader completed her first sprint triathlon (800 meter swim, 12 mile bike, 4.5 mile run), won in her age group and was hooked. Mader wanted to quit swimming, but was on a full ride scholarship at Eastern Michigan University and decided to stay at it until she finished college in 1995. While in Michigan, Mader attempted her first marathon. “I trained for my first marathon, the Detroit marathon, in 1995, got injured, and never ran it,” she said.

After college Mader moved to Colorado because she heard the state has 300 days of sun. Mader started grad school in 1996 in Exercise Science at Colorado State University and enjoyed training out west. She attempted her second marathon, the Colorado marathon, and finished in 3:18. “I never trained for a marathon, I always trained for triathlons and ran marathons.” Mader raced her first Ironman at age 24 in Kona 1997, but then struggled with injures from ’98-’99.

In 2000 Mader began a competitive streak. She completed the 2000 Ironman Canada, 2001 Ironman Kona, 2002 Ironman Lake Placid, and 2003 Ironman Kona; 2007 Ironman Arizona and Ironman Kona; 2008 Ironman Canada and Ironman Kona; 2009 Ironman Arizona and Ironman Kona; 2010 Ironman Kona; and 2011 Ironman Lake Placid.

“For 2012, I am looking to compete in the Ironman St. George. I am also racing HITS Iron-Distance coming to Fort Collins and Run Rabbit Run 100-miler in Steamboat,” Mader said.

Despite all her success, Mader was injured for 17 years of her 20 seasons of triathlons. “As most swimmers do, I struggled with running,” she said. “In 2008, I had a breakthrough 3:17 marathon time in the Kona Ironman, which led to an overall win. I then was injured in 2009 and 2010. My confidence was never consistently good regarding running because I was always injured. I love biking and used my bike fitness to get me though running.”

Despite Mader’s issues with running, she ran her first 50-miler in 2011. After deciding not to race the 2011 Ironman Kona, she raced Ironman Lake Placid instead in July of 2011. “I wasn’t ready for my season to be over, I was really fit, so I decided to run a 50-miler called Run Rabbit Run” (

In terms of equipment, Mader has never been a “gear geek.” “For me it is all about the engine, not the gear,” she said. She has been sponsored by PowerBar since 2007, and got sponsored in 2009 for her first triathlon bike. In 2010 Mader got on Team Timex, where athletes get a good deal on the sponsored tri bikes. Mader drinks a Shakeology post recovery shake every day and eats mostly natural food – no meat, eggs, chicken or fish.

For work, Mader coaches high school swimming, the high school triathlon team, and the masters swim team; teaches P90X and TRX classes and gives private swim lessons. She is also a personal trainer, online coach and beach-body coach. She writes articles and is the GOTRIbal expert swim coach. She is a one-person coach with and is also a Colorado Woman of Influence and affiliate with the Women’s Sports Foundation. “I was the CSU tri team coach for 10 years!” she exclaimed.

“My parents are my biggest sponsors when I run in Kona or any Ironman. I am thankful for PowerBar, Newton and Timex sponsorship. If I was not sponsored, I would have minimal gear. I don’t train and race for gear or money; I train to be mentally and physically strong. I race because I train. There is a reason I had a road bike for 17 years before my first tri bike. I had to win 2008 Ironman to get sponsored with a tri bike. I don’t use race wheels unless I borrow them. I am a minimalist with everything I do.”

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