‘Way to go, mom!’: Central Texas woman completes half Ironman Waco after shedding 80 pounds

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 6:29 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas woman who shed 80 pounds before being chosen as member of TEAM Waco, an initiative through the Greater Waco Sports Commission, crossed the finish line of the half IRONMAN Sunday in downtown Waco to the cheers of dozens of family members, friends and supporters.

Erika Sutton, 37, of Crawford, said she couldn’t have done it without the support of so many and she was overcome with emotion as she finished the race.

“It was amazing,” Erika said through tears.  “I wanted to quit but I finished because my family is here.  My teammates are here.  I’m so pumped.”

The mother said found out in March that she was one of six athletes chosen to be part of TEAM Waco, a designation which included everything from training to equipment, nutritional help and entry fees.

Erika has trained everyday for the last nine months for multiple hours a day to prepare for the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run.

She felt ready going into the race and said she met each of her goals.

Erika had a strong start with a swim in the Brazos River, but as she exited the waters, the rain was pouring down, making the long bike ride a lot more difficult and dangerous.

Erika Sutton at Ironman Waco with her family and father
Erika Sutton at Ironman Waco with her family and father(Courtesy Photos)

“The bike was hard because of the rain,” she said.  “I also got taken out by another rider right out of transition.  I have some pretty good road rash and things are starting to hurt.”

Erika said the half marathon, which concludes the grueling competition, could have been more difficult, but she stayed energized thanks to supporters that her husband,  Justin, placed just about everywhere along the route.

Erika had a grandpa from Missouri there, a brother from California,  sister-in-law and kids from Fort Worth, mom and stepdad from Kerrville, dad and stepmom from San Antonio, in-laws from Amarillo, and brother-in-law and friends from Brock.

She also had plenty of friends from Central Texas there to cheer her on, including co-workers from the business she owns as a physical therapist called Active Therapy Group.

“I was surprised how good the run felt, but again, my support crew and the other competitors’ encouragement carried me through,” Erika said.

Erika had plenty of support from family and friends at this weekend's Ironman Waco
Erika had plenty of support from family and friends at this weekend's Ironman Waco(Courtesy Photos)

“The entire race was better and amazing because Justin had people strategically placed all over the place.  Every time I felt like slowing up, there they were.  I felt I won the best support group category.  Other competitors were even saying ‘I wish my name was Erika!”

Erika trained for the half IRONMAN all while holding down a full-time job, part time job as a professor at Baylor, being a wife and mom of two busy girls.

The former A&M track competitor said from the get-go her motivation was to be a role model for her daughters, Sydney, 9, and Saige, 6.

Both girls embraced their mom as she crossed the finish line.

“She did so good,” Sydney smiled.

“Way to go, mom!” both said in unison.

Erika and Justin leave later this week for some much-deserved vacation time in Mexico, and then Erika plans to continue training, but not at the same level.

“I’m going to ease back in,” she said.  “I definitely plan to continue with the sprint and Olympic distances until the girls get a little older and I have more availability for the time it takes for training.”

“I’m extremely happy with my race.  I felt I left everything on the course and couldn’t be more proud.”

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