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Mother-daughter duo from Calgary qualify for Ironman World Championship in Hawaii

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A mother and daughter pair from Calgary will be heading to Kona, Hawaii to compete in the Ironman World Championship.

Nataya Stephens first got into Ironman five years ago. Stephens and a friend of hers were looking for a new challenge. She said they got it with Ironman.

“We both swam and ran casually and both had bikes that that we never used,” she said.

“We thought half marathons we’re a challenge for us, so we thought ‘let’s dig deeper’ and that’s how my Ironman journey began.”

Nataya wanted her mom Sandy to join her for the journey. Sandy is a runner who has competed in the Boston Marathon and she was also pretty good on the bike.

But there was one problem – Sandy said she had a fear of swimming in open water. She had to work hard to overcome that.

“What I would do is I would go out to the dock over here, outside our backyard,” she said.

“I would get my wet suit on and I’d get down to the lake and put my face in the water and I’d do that over and over and day after day until I got totally comfortable doing it and then (swimming) the whole lake.”

BOTH QUALIFIED FOR IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Sandy was able to overcome her fear. In late June 2023, they both signed up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Sandy said she didn’t have very high expectations.

“We go down to Coeur d’Alene and I wasn’t expecting to get a qualifying spot,” she said.

“I just wanted to finish, and before you know it, her and I were standing there with tickets to Kona saying ‘oh my gosh how did we do this?’”

A JOURNEY TOGETHER

The whole journey has been a bonding experience for Nataya and Sandy.

Nataya said it’s been a real thrill doing this with her mom.

“It’s such a massive privilege and we’ve spent so much time together bonding through the highs and lows of training,” she said.

“Getting to Kona myself was just something I think most athletes just dream about and I never thought it could be my reality. Not to mention doing this with my mom, it’s unbelievable.”

NOT MANY MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS QUALIFY TOGETHER

The Kona Ironman World Championship will host the best female professional and age group athletes from around the world on Oct. 14.

Sandy said it’s not often a mother and daughter qualify together.

“I believe back in 2017 is when the first mother and daughter did it and I don’t think there’s been another one since,” she said.

“I know there’s a pro and her mother that are doing it this year as well so hopefully we get to meet up with them. That would be kind of cool to see and learn about what their journey’s been like too.”

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