|At ages 66 and 73, Elisabeth and Kai Nirell are anything but retiring. Both cancer survivors, the husband and wife are grateful for their renewed health and committed to making every minute – every mile -- count. On October 28, they plan to run (3 miles), swim (500 meters) and cycle (16 miles) the full distance in their second triathlon, the twentieth annual Katy Triathlon at Firethorne in Katy/Fulshear, in hopes to beat their 2011 Katy Triathlon debut record.
“It’s very strenuous, but we want to do it again. We learned from last year where to put our emphasis and want to improve,” explained Denmark native Kai Nirell, a dedicated runner and cyclist since young adulthood. “It’s a challenge to do a triathlon, but we’re doing endurance training to prepare us,” he said. Trainer/nutritionist Pamela Pocklington trained the Nirells -- and herself -- for last year’s Katy Triathlon and plans to double up again this year as a trainer/triathlete.
Pocklington says the Nirells “inspired me. I believe we can do this – train hard, train right,” she affirmed, adding that both Kai and Elisabeth passed medical check-ups before embarking on their rigorous exercise regime. They train two to four days a week together, running at 7:00 a.m. for 45 minutes to an hour. Kai goes to the YMCA Cinco Ranch for spinning once a week and swims at the Firethorne competitive swim center twice a week and works on his swimming technique. When not at the ‘Y’, he runs on the trails surrounding Lake Firethorne and also works out at Firethorne’s Fitness Center. He and Elisabeth live in Firethorne.
The retired chemical engineer refers to his two battles against cancer as “wake-up calls” to watch his diet more carefully and cut down on his red meat intake. His doctor caught Kai’s colon cancer early (age 50), thanks to his doing a colonoscopy procedure. Also a prostate cancer survivor (age 60), Kai won his age category in the 1,400-person Tex US Too, Inc. Dad’s Day 5K Run in Houston benefiting the prostate cancer survivor group. “I get a lot of satisfaction out of running and feeling my body excel.”
Elisabeth remembers being very athletic as a youth in Sweden. “Being active was instilled at an early age. Gymnastics, sailing, skiing, skating, walking, running and horseback riding were common activities in Nordic countries,” she explained. She took up running in high school and has enjoyed running with Kai throughout their 35-year marriage.
Katy Triathlon Celebrates
20th Anniversary on Oct. 28
The Katy Triathlon will celebrate its 20th anniversary Sunday, October 28, 7:30 a.m. - 11 a.m., with race and post-race festivities at Firethorne. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Katy, the USA Triathlon (USAT)-sanctioned Katy Triathlon at Firethorne will be held in and around the 1,400-acre Firethorne master-planned community on FM 1463, near the crossroads of the I-10 West corridor, Westpark Tollway and Grand Parkway in Katy/Fulshear.
“The Rotary Club of Katy does a tremendous job organizing this mammoth event,” said Firethorne General Manager Wayne Meyer. “We’re thrilled to help them celebrate the event’s 20th year and raise funds to support local charities that provide essential health, recreation and educational services to children in Katy ISD.”
The Katy Triathlon at Firethorne encompasses a 16-mile bike ride, a three-mile run and a 500-meter swim in Lake Firethorne. The cycling route for adults includes sections of FM 1463 and US Hwy. 90 within the Katy city limits.
Since the Rotary Club of Katy took over the Katy Triathlon in 1998, the Club has raised $250,000 for scholarships for graduating seniors from six Katy ISD high schools, according to Rotary Club of Katy President Dr. Ralph Brock. The Club donates event proceeds to the Katy Rotary Fund. In July, the Rotary Fund awarded $21,000 in scholarships, $1,500 each to 14 graduating seniors from the district’s six high schools.
Organizers expect approximately 900 athletes from throughout the Houston metropolitan area and across the state to participate in this milestone year.
The race is open to individuals as well as relay teams – three-person all male, three-person all female, three-person co-ed or two-person. The youngest age category is 11-14 (must be 11 years or older to participate), with age categories going up to 70+, such as for Firethorne resident Kai Nirell, 73, who completed the Katy Triathlon last year along with his wife, Elisabeth, 65. The husband and wife, both cancer survivors, currently are in training to prepare for the 2012 Katy Triathlon at Firethorne.
Katy Triathlon registration is open and continues through October 25. The complete fee structure, including early bird specials, and deadlines are posted on the event website, http://www.katytriathlon.com. Because this is a USAT-sanctioned event, USAT membership is required. One-day membership is available for purchase at packet pickup.
While Elisabeth always enjoyed an active lifestyle, she never set out to break any records. “At first I thought it was more of a joke when Pamela and Kai brought up the idea of our training for a triathlon. But I realized we could do it and it’s been exhilarating. I’ve got more muscle tone, feel better and am more in shape,” said Elisabeth, whose swimming was therapeutic after she had a double mastectomy for breast cancer at age 44.
In fact, according to Pocklington, Elisabeth is “amazing at swimming – she’s like a fish in the water,” while Kai is “amazing at running.” Elisabeth is working on her transition time. She feels she needs to swim faster this year, although her trainer advised not to ‘kill herself’ in the water because she had two more disciplines to do.
Another discipline Pocklington offers her clients is nutrition counseling. Elisabeth is now more attuned to cooking with first cold pressed olive oil, eating less fat and adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to her and Kai’s diet.
The three look forward to the 20th Annual Katy Triathlon Sunday, October 28, 7:30 a.m. - 11 a.m., with race and post-race festivities at Firethorne. Presented by the Rotary Club of Katy, the USA Triathlon sanctioned Katy Triathlon at Firethorne will be held in and around the 1,400-acre Firethorne master-planned community on FM 1463, near the crossroads of the I-10 West corridor, Westpark Tollway and Grand Parkway.
The triathlon raises funds to support local charities that provide essential health, recreation and educational services to children in Katy Independent School District. Since the Rotary Club of Katy took over the Katy Triathlon in 1998, the Club has raised $250,000 for scholarships for graduating seniors from six Katy ISD high schools. The Club donates event proceeds to the Katy Rotary Fund. In July, the Rotary Fund awarded $21,000 in scholarships, $1,500 each to 14 graduating seniors.
Organizers expect approximately 900 athletes will participate in the 16-mile bike race, three-mile run and a 500-meter swim. The cycling route for adults includes sections of FM 1463 and US Hwy. 90 within the Katy city limits. The race is open to individuals and relay teams – three-person all male, three-person all female, three-person co-ed or two-person. The youngest age category is 11-14, with categories going up to 70+, such as Kai Nirell. Registration continues through October 25. The complete fee structure and deadlines are posted at http://www.katytriathlon.com. USAT membership is required; one-day membership is available for purchase at packet pickup.
To produce the Katy Triathlon at Firethorne, the Rotary Club of Katy organizes more than 40 of its own member-volunteers, plus helpers from Cinco Ranch High School FBLA, Rotary Interact Club and Boy Scouts.
Firethorne blends with the best nature has to offer: 150 acres devoted to parks and recreational amenities, greenbelts, hike and bike trails, parks and playgrounds, discovery-rich wildlife observation area and a natural bird habitat. The 1,400-acre community is strategically located 10 and 15 miles west, respectively, of the Texas Medical Center-West Campus and Houston’s Energy Corridor.
For sponsorships and underwriter information, contact Vicki Rao, firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-391-3655. To visit Firethorne, take I-10 West and exit Pin Oak to FM 1463, visit www.firethorne.info, or call (281) 693-1011.