North Bend planner is a world-class athlete
January 2, 2013
By Michele Mihalovich
Gina Estep is not just North Bend’s Community and Economic Development director. She’s also a world-class athlete after competing with more than 3,000 others in the 2012 Barfoot & Thompson World Triathlon Grand Final in Auckland, New Zealand, in October.
Estep, 39, placed 12th in her age group class against 46 other women with a time of 1:19:43. She also had the best time of any of the women from the United States.
“This was absolutely so exciting, and a huge compliment to even be able to participate and run alongside people who are so driven in life,” Estep said.
What she found most interesting, she said, was the high-energy atmosphere of incredibly driven individuals from so many cultures being brought together for the competition.
Estep said athletics has always been a part of her life.
“Growing up, it was part of our family lifestyle to always be very active,” she said.
That family lifestyle turned into a love of basketball that led the Redmond High School graduate to a full scholarship at Western Washington University.
The shooting guard and forward started coaching basketball after graduating with a planning degree at the college and high school level, but she also helped for a couple of years at Chief Kanim Middle School.
While basketball and staying fit were always top priorities, triathlons — grueling bike, swimming and foot races — weren’t even on her radar until she turned 30.
Estep said a friend of hers had been competing in triathlons, so she decided to give it a try. She competed in the Kirkland race and said she finished pretty well, which added fuel to the fire.
“I love being active, but with a purpose, like being able to set goals,” Estep said. “You know the distances you have to run, so I set goals on how fast I need to run that distance. I do the same with biking and swimming. Swimming’s been the biggest challenge because I hadn’t done it since my younger years. And even then, it was just beboppin’ in a lake.”
Her early triathlon success is what pushed her to do more, which is why she found herself competing in sanctioned qualifying races in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Moses Lake. Those races allowed her to compete in a national race in Burlington, Vt.
“You have to finish in the top 18 in your age group to qualify for the world championship,” Estep said. “I finished sixth.”
Estep has no plans to slow down either.
She recently competed at the same national race in Vermont, which means she’s headed to the world championship grand finale race again, next time in London.