Gunnison – Jackie Burt is a stay-at-home mom. Sort of.
Not long after she drops off her children at school, she can often be found at the gym grinding her way through a 90-minute cycling class. Then she might swing by the pool for an hour of swimming. Lately, her typical week has also included alpine skiing, running, weight lifting, skate skiing and even ice hockey.
It’s not that the 34-year-old Gunnison resident doesn’t enjoy a little peace and quiet, but this mom is on a mission.
She’s training like a fiend so she can earn professional status as an off-road triathlete by midsummer and have a chance to shoot for top-10 finishes at the sport’s U.S. and world championships in October.
Most of the events in the Xterra off-road triathlon circuit consist of a roughly 1-mile swim, 25 miles of mountain biking and about 6 miles of running. The pros finish in about 2 1/2 hours. Burt is a reluctant but improving swimmer, an expert mountain biker and a very good runner.
Based on her fierce determination, rapid improvement in recent years and the fact her children – 9-year-old daughter Emma and 7-year-old son Sam – are in school all day for the first time, Burt, who picked up the sport six years ago, appears poised for her best season of racing yet. She also has retained Xterra women’s world champion Melanie McQuaid to coach her this season to make sure no stone is left unturned. Burt’s first race is April 23.
"I’ve always been competitive, and it’s really nice as an old-lady mother to be able to dig that out and use that," she said. "There are challenges, but at the same time, I don’t know how I could survive the balance of motherhood without competition. It’s my very own, and it’s a great way to stay focused in life."
It certainly helps that her husband, Ashley, is a dedicated amateur Xterra triathlete and her biggest supporter, and that they’ve been able to share their love of sports and the outdoors by involving the children in their training and long race weekends. In the summer, the Burts will do running workouts while Emma and Sam ride their mountain bikes on the same trails. In the winter months, the family often goes alpine or cross country skiing together and then returns home to watch a movie on TV as Jackie and Ashley spin on indoor bike trainers.
But with the kids involved in a variety of sports ranging from triathlon to hockey to gymnastics, scheduling can sometimes be tricky. On one occasion last summer, Jackie finished a race near Bailey and then had to scurry to braid Emma’s hair and quickly drive her to Longmont for a gymnastics meet.
"It’s been a fun challenge," said Ashley Burt, 38, who is the president of the Gunnison Bank and Trust and race director for the fourth annual Crested Butte Bank Trails Triathlon on July 30. "I think, more than anything, the kids are growing up in a household where Mom and Dad are athletes who train a lot, and that seems normal to them. And when it strikes your kids as the norm, they don’t really question it, and they actually enjoy it."