Wakefield mum of two Tracey Windscheffel is celebrating losing over five stone in one year by taking on her first standard distance triathlon at this year’s Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds on Sunday June 11.
Taking over the city for the whole weekend on June 10-11, the fourth leg of the ITU World Triathlon Series will see athletes like Tracey race along the same course as the world’s greatest talent, including local stars the Brownlees in the same weekend.
Confidence was at an all-time low for the professional Cake Maker and Decorator as her increasing weight and deteriorating health put her at high risk for diabetes and heart disease.
“I was stressed and upset and reaching for food for comfort”, she says. “I knew something had to change but I couldn’t do it on my own.”
With the help of personal trainer Jonathan Mudd from Pro-Fit, the 46-year-old is now enjoying a new lease of life and looking forward to completing her biggest challenge yet by swimming 1500m, cycling 36.2km and running 10km through Leeds City Centre on June 11.
Last year Tracey took part in the beginner GO TRI Saturday event at the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds in Roundhay Park and got the triathlon bug.
“It was absolutely amazing,” she says. “I was terrified but there were a lot of people who, like me, had never done it before and were really encouraging. Even when I was lapped on the bike everyone who passed me gave me and others cheers of encouragement. It was such a supportive atmosphere”.
Now with two more GO TRI events under her belt and a frame five dress sizes smaller, it’s time for the Wakefield triathlete to step it up a notch and take on the same distance to be raced by Leeds’ very own Brownlee brothers and other elite talent.
“I wanted to push myself to the limit and do something I’d never done before”, she says. “This will be the hardest challenge my personal trainer and I have set but it’s something I know I can do with the correct training and support and I can’t wait to get to the finish knowing I’ve achieved something that big.”
Her transformation started in September 2015, when weighing in at 17stone11, Tracey took the plunge and booked into her first personal training session.
“I knew I was the heaviest I’d ever been, my confidence had completely gone and my health was worrying me – something had to change,” she said.
“It was ‘now or never’ so together with Jonny we set my targets. I wanted to lose 7stone 11lb, to take me to 10stone and put me back into the healthy BMI category”.
The pair split her goal into bitesize chunks to make it more manageable. Tracey achieved her first target of three stone off within the first three months, and has gone on to lost more than two stone towards her goal.
“It was the most amazing feeling. I felt like I can really do this. I’m doing things I never thought I could and feel fitter and healthier than ever. I now cycle, swim, lift weights and go to the gym regularly.
“I want to do this triathlon for myself but also to help raise funds for the Prince of Wales Hospice, Pontefract. Our target is £50,000 and it would be amazing if we could reach that goal.
“I want to also raise awareness that if you feel like I did, you can get help like I have. There are people like Pro-Fit who have changed my life and made me want more for myself.”
Tracey had been a member of Total Fitness in Wakefield previously, but only went to keep her son Oliver, 17, company. Now she regularly visits the gym with her son who also trains with a PT and is aspiring to follow in his mum’s footsteps to take on his first triathlon next year.
“Once I started getting involved a bit more it spurred him on,” says Tracey. “He’s going to do the GO TRI triathlon next year and I’ll do it with him so he knows I’m there to support.”
The GO TRI event takes place on Saturday 10 June at Roundhay Park and offers a 200m or 400m swim in Waterloo Lake, 10km cycle around the park and a 2.5km run to finish. The park also plays host to the aquathlon (750m swim, 5km run), the youth and junior triathlon, and the newly added para-triathlon event.
Then on Sunday 11 June Tracey will join thousands of other age group athletes to take their place at the start line and race through the city centre to their blue carpet finish, warming up the course for the elites later that afternoon.
More than 100,000 people are expected to line the closed roads that make up the course, with Grandstand tickets going on sale soon for spectators to catch the best of the finish line action.
Entries are now open for all events in the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds, including places with charity partners Bloodwise and Bone Cancer Research Trust. Visit leeds.triathlon.org for more info and to sign up.