She is Ironman
It may not be the most scientific statistic, but there is anecdotal evidence that Peachtree City has the largest number of Ironman triathletes in the country, per capita.
They have a club, the Peachtree City Triathlon Club (www.tri-ptc.org), which was formed in 2003 and they hold events throughout the year, including the annual Tri Peachtree City Sprint Triathlon (Aug. 21, 2010). The club was looking for a way to give back to the community and also to give the members of their club something in return. They found that with a sponsorship of April Gellatly as she enters her second season as an Iron distance professional triathlete.
An Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run. Gellatly participated in three Ironman races last year and placed in the top 10 in all of them - Lake Placid (10th), Louisville (8th) and Cozumel (7th). Her goal is to run in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii and win it all.
Gellatly works a few days a week in a retail position and spends a lot of time coaching, working with members of the Southside Seals and also with Focus, an adaptive swim program for children with disabilities at the World Gym on Georgia Hwy 54. Her full time job though is training for upcoming Ironman triathlons. Each day’s activities can be different but one example of what a day of training might look like starts with a swim in the lake in the morning followed by 60-65 miles on the bike, riding with another pro triathlete from Atlanta. Gellatly stated that she can burn up to 2,500 calories in a day and while it sounds over the top, the process to get there is a gradual one.
“You just get there one step at a time,” Gellatly said. “You do a 10K and say ‘that wasn’t so bad,’ and then you run 10 miles and then a half marathon and a full marathon.”
Gellatly found the sport after her father passed away in 2003.
“This was my path to recovery,” said Gellatly. “It was a way to keep me moving forward because I was physically moving forward.”
She continues putting one foot in front of the other and the ultimate destination is Kona. She’s been there before but in 2008 she decided to go pro and stated she wouldn’t go back until she was ready to really compete. Each professional Ironman race serves as a qualifier for the World Championships and the top two or three finishers, depending on the race, make it. Gellatly will run in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on June 27 and in Louisville in August in an attempt to qualify for Kona. She is grateful for TRI-PTC becoming her title sponsor.
“This sport can get pricey,” Gellatly stated, adding that entry fees for these races can be as much as $2,000. She started winning some prize money last year - $500 at Louisville - but the entry fee for that race was $575. “I go as grassroots as possible and the sponsorship will help with the entry fees and travel expenses.
“I knew coming into this year, that sponsorship would be a tough sell, and that the return on investment for sponsors would need to be significant,” said Gellatly. Tri-PTC members will directly benefit from her presence at community events, such as Open Water Swims and “Night Moves”- a swim, bike, run, preparation for the club owned Peachtree City Sprint Triathlon in August.
“April’s sense of community, willingness to share her knowledge with the average triathlete, and outgoing personality make this an ideal partnership for the club,” said Tri-PTC Club President, Pat Burton. “And how can you say no to that smile?”
The community that Gellatly found with other triathletes was another element of what helped her deal with the grief of losing her father.
“I was instantly surrounded by great people,” Gellatly said. “They are goal-oriented, happy and healthy and it was an easy way to be social.” She encourages everyone to come out and drop in on an Open Water Swim or a “Night Moves” session. “Come out and get moving. You’re never too old to play outdoors.”
Gellatly will also be on hand for the annual Sprint Triathlon in August, an event that has grown in popularity each year.
Before competing in Idaho in June, Gellatly will run a half Ironman in Panama City Beach in May. She dropped a significant amount of time in last year’s races, finishing Cozumel in 10 hours, but she figures she has 30-40 minutes more to lose if she is going to put herself among the top tier in the sport.
Gellatly stated that she has lost herself in the sport, but those who know her would argue that she found herself there.