Women’s Biathlon Offers Weight-Loss Surgery Patient Another Milestone

Margarita after bariatric surgery ready to participate in Memorial SportsCare's Women's Biathlon

One of her biggest challenges awaits Margarita Martin on Sept. 23, and the Charleston nurse and mother of three couldn’t be more excited.

Margarita will join hundreds of other central Illinois women when she takes part in Memorial SportsCare’s women’s biathlon. The 20-kilometer bike ride followed by a 5-kilometer run will be the biggest athletic event she’s tackled to date.

And that’s quite an accomplishment, considering that the 5-foot-10 woman weighed just over 300 pounds through most of the first half of 2011. After she had bariatric, or weight-loss, surgery at Memorial Medical Center in May 2011, she eventually lost 140 pounds.

Read her weight-loss story.

To prepare for the biathlon, Margarita has been running three days a week – a fast, short run and two slower, long runs – and doing cross-training exercise four days a week, including weights, hill training and bicycle riding.

“I’m not fast,” Margarita says. “But I’m working on building my endurance first, then I’ll work on speed.”

About four months after her surgery, she began running with her daughter and son, who were preparing to join the military, as a way to motivate herself to lose weight. “My goal even before my surgery was to be able to run a 5K one day, but at this point I was just running for exercise.”

A few months later, Margarita entered and finished her first 5K. At the invitation of Michelle Fulton, her friend and nurse practitioner, she signed up for Charleston’s Girls on the Run. By the time SportsCare’s biathlon rolls around, she will have run in a half-dozen 5Ks as well as a 20K bike ride.

SportsCare’s women’s biathlon is a noncompetitive event for central Illinois women who may or may not have experience in participating in organized athletic events. Some, like Margarita, will participate in both parts of the event; others will choose the relay option, teaming up with a partner who will complete one portion while they do the other.

The biathlon will be held at SportsCare’s new location at 4550 W. Iles Ave., which is also the home of the Gus and Flora Kerasotes YMCA. As many as 500 women will be part of the event, which will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 23. It’s sanctioned by USA Triathlon.

For more details about the biathlon, including maps, training videos and the health fair, check out their web page. You can also like the biathlon on Facebook here to keep up on the latest news.

Margarita recalled when someone asked her why she wanted to do the biathlon. “I answered, ‘Because now I can,’” she says. “I may not finish it in record time, but I will finish it. That’s all that matters to me.”

To join other women in the fifth annual SportsCare women’s biathlon, you can register online by visiting Memorial’s website.