In 2009, Trevor and Heather Wurtele were taking a risk when they dove headlong into the life of full-time professional triathletes.
With no other means of income and no guarantee of success in a mentally and physically demanding sport, it was a leap of faith for the Wurteles.
Eight years later, the Kelowna couple has no regrets.
At 38 and in the primes of their careers, the Wurteles are two of Canada’s most successful long course pro triathletes.
This weekend in Penticton, she hopes to add to her extensive collection of hardware when she competes in the long distance event at the ITU World Multisport Championships.
Trevor, a consistent top-five finisher wherever he competes, is coming off a big victory earlier this year in Belgium at Challenge Geraardsbergen.
The 2013 Ironman Canada champ, Trevor also had three second-place showings last year in Ironman 70.3 events.
To see how far they’ve come since those uncertain early days is a source of satisfaction and accomplishment for the husband-and-wife team.
“Looking back, it was the best decision we could have made at the time,” said Trevor Wurtele who, like Heather, grew up in Vernon. “When we made that full commitment, the first year or two were nerve-wracking because we weren’t making much money. But we just hung in there and stuck with it and it’s worked out,” he added. “I couldn’t imagine what else we’d be doing now.
“It’s been quite an adventure and we consider ourselves to be incredibly lucky and happy to be doing this for a living.”
Still, the Wurteles’ prosperity in the sport hasn’t come without its share of blood, sweat, tears and hard work.
For 5 1/2 years, the two spent their competitive seasons living out of an RV.
The level of training required, managing recovery, attention to nutrition, remaining on top of social media, and staying connected with their sponsors has been a full-time endeavour for both athletes.
Heather said having their training and life partners beside each other for every step of the journey has been crucial to both their longevity and success in the sport.
“With some of the tough times and hard work along the way, we wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for each other,” said Heather who, like Trevor, typically trains 26 to 29 hours per week. “We’ve been very supportive of each other and when there are struggles, we’re there for each other and pick each other up. We goof around, too, when it’s needed and just have fun when we can.
“When we decided to do this, we were staring a life change in the face, so we knew we had to stick together. There are no regrets in having gone for it.”
When Heather takes to the course this weekend in Penticton, Trevor will be in Austria preparing for his next race on the European Challenge triathlon circuit.
In addition to vying for a podium finish at the ITU Multisport World Championships, Heather plans on enjoying all the benefits that competing at home has to offer.
“At ITU events we wear Team Canada kits so the focus is more about racing for your country than usual, it’s nice to feel like part of a team,” Heather said. “A lot of people in Kelowna are talking about this event, so that makes it fun, too. I think it’s just a fun festival throughout.”
Heather and Trevor will reunite later this year when both prepare to compete at international triathlon competitions in Sardinia and Mallorca, Spain.