The 2019 Just Tri It group.

Just Tri It — it could change your life

For much of her life, Nicole Shoaf held a very narrow view of who a triathlete was: someone who was ultra fit and ultra thin.

But in 2015, when Shoaf was in her early 40s, she learned that one of her colleagues — a woman who looked like her — taught swimming through the Saskatoon Triathlon Club’s Just Tri It program, which prepares women to compete in triathlons.

“She was an average woman, 40 years old, doing triathlon and I thought, ‘Oh, well, maybe this is something that I can try,'” Shoaf recalls.

Shoaf had been active as a child, but had drifted away from sport after graduating high school and had spent the last two decades as a self-professed “worker bee,” spending long hours sitting behind a desk. She was keen to start living a healthier lifestyle, but didn’t quite know what to expect when she showed up for her first week of JTI workouts.

Nicole Shoaf (left) and JTI run coach Leanne K. from the September 2021 Bridge City Duathlon.
Nicole Shoaf (left) and JTI run coach Leanne K. from the September 2021 Bridge City Duathlon.

What she found was a group of about 60 women who were all excited to try something new and push themselves.

“It didn’t have any pressure. There was no competition. The only competition was yourself,” Shoaf says. “It really just offered me a chance to do something that I hadn’t done before, to set and achieve short-term goals and to have fun while I was doing it.”

The JTI program ran less than three months, but it was enough to change Shoaf’s life. Since signing up seven years ago, being active has become part of her life and she’s completed several triathlons, including a Half Iron Man. She says she would have completed more — but volunteering at and organizing local races has also consumed a lot of her time.

Recently, she stepped into the role of program director for JTI, taking over from long-time director Susan Hamilton.

The 2022 edition of JTI begins March 13 and runs for nine weeks. Shoaf encourages any woman aged 18 and older to consider signing up.

“We can accommodate every ability. You haven’t ridden a bike in 20 years? We can help you. You don’t know how to swim? We will get you through it. If you’re a great runner, we’ve got some great runners who volunteer with us who are going to push you on those Thursday runs,” she says.

“I really want people just to give it a go. It’s nine weeks. Come out, try something different, meet a couple new people. If you love it, stick with it. If you don’t, you have a fun story to tell somebody.”

For more information and to register, go online. Shoaf advises people to act quickly; the popular program is capped at 96 women this year and tends to sell out.