Former Texas A&M track star participating in first Ironman Waco after remarkable weight loss transformation

Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 6:30 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A former Texas A&M track star who first shed 80 pounds before deciding to conquer another goal of completing an IRONMAN says she’s ready for her first competition at IRONMAN Waco this weekend.

Erika Sutton, 37, of Crawford, says she’s only taken one day off from training in the last nine months as she prepares to compete as one of six chosen athletes for TEAM Waco, a Greater Waco Sports Commission initiative created to knock down physical, mental or financial barriers to the competition.

Erika is entering the half IRONMAN, which consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and half marathon.

“I’m excited, but at the same time, I want to throw up,” Erika laughed. “Performance anxiety is real.”

Erika says being a part of TEAM Waco has helped her prepare tremendously.

TEAM Waco competitors were given private coaching by NVDM Coaching, nutritional consulting, private swim sessions, cycling classes at Rush Cycle, shoes from Waco Running Company and a helmet and bike performance tune-up from Bicycle World.

Scholarships also covered the entry fees for the IRONMAN as well as a Mother’s Day 5K, Tri Waco, Waco Wild West Bike Race and Beast of the Brazos competitions.

Erika says her training started nine months ago and the group has never let off the gas.

Erika Sutton with her children and fellow triathletes
Erika Sutton with her children and fellow triathletes(Courtesy Photos)

“During the week, it’s probably two to three hours a day, and then on Saturdays and Sundays, it’s longer. It’s probably around three to four hours,” she said.

Finding a time to fit in workouts hasn’t been easy for Erika, who owns a business called Active Therapy group, where she works as a physical therapist. She also serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Health Sciences Studies Department and Doctor of Physical Therapy school at Baylor.

Erika is also a married and very involved mother to two daughters: Sydney, 9, and Saige, 6. She says the girls have really been her motivation to take on such a daunting challenge.

In fact, she’s had the girls in tow for many of her running sessions as they rode their bicycles alongside her on routes.

“I have more than just completing this IRONMAN to take away,” Erika said. “My goal from the beginning was always to be a role model for my kids once I got my life back on track with just being healthy, eating healthy, having a great mindset. The goal was to always just to be a model for my girls to look up to.”

Erika admits she’s had good days and bad as she’s pushed her body to the limits.

“It’s been quite a journey with just learning to love this sport, honestly,” she said. “It’s been a wild ride. It has been an exhausting ride, but we are a few days away from IRONMAN Waco and I am feeling ready.”

The athlete’s family will be coming from near and far to cheer her across the finish line Sunday, a race which she expects to take six to seven hours to complete.

“My goal is just to finish it,” she said.

Erika said she’ll cross the finish line Sunday with a great appreciation to her friends, family, the Greater Waco Sports Commission and TEAM Waco.

“I heard the greatest thing this morning while we were at Rush (Cycle) and it was that the journey doesn’t get easier. We just get stronger, and I feel that I have done nothing but gotten stronger in so many aspects and I really am looking forward to representing myself, my husband, my girls, my family and everybody in the community that has been there for us from the beginning with this TEAM Waco ride.”