COLUMBIA – She remembers the din of ringing cowbells and the urges to finish, but most of all:
“Go Lise, go!”
The chant of her friends accompanied Lise Nyrop during her final steps of her first triathlon for the Columbia Multisport Club.
“It was like I found religion,” said Nyrop, who is now 50 years old and the club’s president, of when she joined CMC and began training for the event.
Fellow member Tam Adams, 49, joined as already an avid runner, but had to adjust training for the other aspects of a triathlon.
Nyrop said, jokingly, they “made her get in the water.”
“It is empowering,” Adams said, once she got her feet wet and started training for triathlons.
Nyrop herself was skeptical she could even complete a half-marathon, let alone an Ironman-distance triathlon.
Her perseverance in training paid off: In her first event she helped CMC win that year’s Division I United States Association of Triathletes national championship in Boulder City, Nev. in 2006.
It also helped make some enemies.
“We slaughtered — absolutely slaughtered — L.A. Tri,” Nyrop said.
According to Nyrop, L.A. Tri Club did not like losing at the hands of CMC. As one of their competitors said, Nyrop recalled, “I guess all there is to do in Missouri is cow-tip and train.’”
Many people who CMC encounters are astonished to learn the club operates from Columbia, Mo., and will travel far in order to compete.
“’Where are you guys from?’” the club hears often.
And in the case of this year’s national championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C., people asked them if they were from Columbia, the capital of South Carolina.
People find it hard to believe a city from central Missouri can compete with larger ones such as Los Angeles or Washington D.C. In fact, Nyrop said they bring often as many if not more athletes, not including spectators, than the rival clubs from the bigger cities, whose memberships are three to four times greater than CMC’s.
30-year-old member Kimberly Earnest said the board does a great job organizing and fundraising for the events.
Despite being misunderstood and disrespected, CMC still does what it does best – win.
CMC won its fifth Division I USAT national championship in eight years on Oct. 2 in Myrtle Beach, but still remains an underdog.
According to Nyrop, CMC has members who are ranked nationally and compete in prestigious competitions like Ironman Kona.
In fact, Earnest and her husband Brad finished impressively this year at Myrtle Beach.
Kimberly Earnest finished 13th overall and was the fastest woman in the sprint distance. In sprint for both men and women, Brad Earnest finished second overall.
Although he posted a faster time than his wife, fellow CMC members like to tease him about the fact he was only the second fastest man in the distance, while Kimberly Earnest was the best among the women competitors.
“He takes it well,” Nyrop said.
Although CMC is highly focused and competitive, they like to mix in pleasure with the pain of training. For example, they will schedule a 100-mile bike ride and stop at winery along the way in order to socialize.
Both Nyrop and Kimberly Earnest describe the club as highly social.
“It’s really a fun group,” Earnest said.