Getting Beyond Borders

Triathlete Amber Ault is competing for a cause

Triathlete Amber Ault is competing for a cause

What’s your “A race” this season?

Ironman Wisconsin—a 2.4-mile swim for a warm-up, 112-mile bike ride, and a marathon walk for a cool-down. The coolest part is the Janus Charity Challenge—it lets participants compete for a $10,000 donation to a non-profit; I’ve chosen Doctors Without Borders because they are distributing an energy-dense peanut paste to kids dying of malnutrition in various parts of the world. The stuff is called Plumpy’nut. That describes me pretty well, too, as a non-athlete attempting this crazy race. All the money raised goes to Doctors Without Borders.

What turned you on to triathlons?

I went on a couple of dates with a serious triathlete type who suggested we do the Crazy Legs race together. I said, “Sweet pea, I will make your breakfast, drive you to the race, cheer you on around the course, meet you at the finish, draw your bath, rub your feet and polish your medals, but let me be clear: I do not run.” Famous last words!

How did you get started?

I’d started to have weight-related health problems. It was time to either get on meds or on the treadmill. So, I got on the treadmill… and promptly fractured an ankle. By then I was determined to turn things around so instead of bagging it, I turned to biking and the pool. That lead to triathlon training. I picked an end-of-season race, came in pretty much last, and was totally elated to finish something I’d thought utterly impossible. Tri-training has helped me recover my health, reconnect to the outdoors and make new friends.

What has surprised you the most about the sport?

It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to go fast, but the truth is that there’s also a really rich experience at the back of the pack—or behind it—which is where I usually race, and people are often really supportive of that effort.

What can the queer community bring to triathlons?

These races could benefit from fancier catering, helmet art, and dykes-on-bikes marshalling the cycling leg. At Ironman Wisconsin, it would be great to see some explicitly LGBTQA aid stations, maybe with campy encouragers shouting things like, “Girlfriend, don’t you even think about stopping until you collect that jewelry at the finish line.”

How can people learn more?

To help Team Plumpy’nut win $10,000 for Doctors Without Borders, or just to cheer on a community member, people can google my name and “Plumpy Nut.” To learn more about the sport, ask the nearest triathlete. To volunteer at Ironman, go to To go out on an early morning swim, bike or run adventure, e-mail me at Maybe there’s a Club QT in Madison’s future!


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