At the XTERRA East Championship in Richmond, for the third time this season, Beata Wronska was only one woman away from winning the women’s amateur title at an XTERRA race. At the XTERRA East Championship that one woman was none other than reigning XTERRA World Champ Hannah Rae Finchamp, who was sixth overall behind only five female elites.
It was a breakout performance and a bit of redemption for Wronska, who just a year before in Richmond suffered a bad crash that resulted in a visit to the ER and “four staples in my head.”
We caught up with Beata, a Microsoft analyst by trade whose first name is semi-impossible to pronounce to the uninitiated, to get to know her a little better…
XTERRA: How do you pronounce your name?
Beata Wronska: I gave up a long time ago on anyone trying to pronounce my name right. I find it funny since in Poland, Beata is a very common name. Here it is unheard of and everyone just gives me this look and I know I would have to repeat it a few times before even anyone gets close. To simplify things I just tell friends to call me "B" ... it makes it way easier and I love it!
XT: Where are you from originally?
BW: I am from the beautiful coastal city of Gdansk in Poland where my family still lives. It is a very green, smart and a history filled place and I feel very lucky that I grew up in such an amazing European culture.
XT: Where do you live now?
BW: Currently my husband Pax and I are living in South Florida. It’s a year-round biker’s paradise here. Even though no one would ever think of the state as a mountain bike destination, we have here quite a few great technical courses and amazingly big and strong biking community.
XT: What is your sporting background?
BW: My sporting background is definitely not endurance based as anyone would be surprised to hear. I spent my life as a Professional Table Tennis player, top competitor and numerous medalist in my country and also tops in the USA. Even though it doesn't make me faster in running or swimming I feel Table Tennis gives me those ninja reflexes while on the bike where the split second decisions are crucial!
XT: When did you find out about XTERRA?
BW: It was in 2008 after I injured my foot and stopped participating in my Table Tennis trainings and tournaments. This is where I was soul searching for what else in life was there that seemed ultra-exciting and challenging. It was a perfect time to try something new for a change. Little did I know it would become my new passion and way of life...
XT: When was your first XTERRA?
BW: Luckily for me while searching for my first triathlon I stumbled upon XTERRA Miami which was happening locally and gave me two months to prepare. My eyes lit up when I saw you can actually race a triathlon on the dirt! I was all in! I was so intimidated during my first ever packet pickup and start of the race. But when I started making passes on the bike course I started feeling really good. I never smiled more in 2.5 hours before that and suffered that much at the same time. I gave a big smile and a big wave to every single volunteer I was just so happy to be part of it. The race was almost as insane as our Richmond, which is a challenging terrain and numerous water crossings on the run course. I had a blast and placed 2nd in my Age Group in the Sprint distance.
XT: What do you like about it?
BW: I love everything about it. All the different elements combined together makes you feel like you are experiencing a new city, course, destination in a way no postcard picture can describe. I call it "tigering it". It's like you see this gorgeous full moon and you just want to bite it! But now the course is your moon and you actually can do it! You submerge yourself in it, dig in with you tires, and feel it under your feet. The pain, the dirt, the scenery, the cheering, the pounding of your heart...there’s no better way to experience life!
XT: Richmond experience last year vs. this year?
BW: The difference is like night and day especially for me. Last year tropical front flooded the race site and changed the race to a duathlon with the bike course being very wet. I was speeding down the trails with a great chance of a victory in my group. Unfortunately my bike lost traction on one slippery downhill and sent me head first into the side of a under-bridge wall and rocks. I ended up in the ER with a concussion and fours staples in my head. It was the only race for me that I was not able to finish. It was a long year to wait to come back here and redeem myself on the same course and also after some pre-race rain. I was apprehensive at first but with time got comfort on those amazing trails. After an action packed race I did come out with my best result yet and managed to win my Age Group and place 2nd Overall for amateur women. And this time around XTERRA East doubled as the USAT Off-Road Nationals. I'm very proud to have this title!
XT: When did you get this fast?
BW: Ha! Not overnight for sure. Everything takes time. Love for the sport however and commitment keeps me inspired to train and improve.
XT: Goals for this season?
BW: My main goal is XTERRA Worlds in Maui and a podium there is definitely on my wish list for this season. Would love to be also part of the ITU Cross Tri Worlds in Germany...
XT: XTERRA results this year?
BW: Key Biscayne - 1st AG, 2nd Overall; Ft. Yargo - 2nd AG, 2nd Overall; Alabama - 2nd AG, 6th Overall; Richmond - 1st AG, 2nd Overall
XT: When, where do you train?
BW: Since I am working full time and spending nearly 45 hours a week, 13 hour long days at a desk, this gives me only a very little time to train. I have 3 days per week to squeeze all my training in and every little part of that day and decisions I make determines my progress. Being time bond I don't have time to train in professional clubs or swim in any swimming centers. All my training is being done on my own around my home in South Florida. Thankfully here I can train year round; however weather can get out of the control and be quite extreme often not making things easier in any way. I would love be able one day to commit all my time to training and racing and see where it takes me...
XT: Favorite XTERRA course?
BW: It has to be XTERRA Richmond for its amazing urban setting and unpredictable, challenging and ridiculously fun course and amazing crowd. But I also love the Alabama course for its peacefulness and just a perfect overall setting. And XTERRA Miami is my local favorite and sits deeply in my heart.
XT: Anything else?
BW: I just wanted to tell everyone that has a passion for this amazing sport to don't give up. If I can do it with a full time job and still enjoy life and have success than anyone can. I never even dreamed of getting where I am when I started. I did it simply for love for the sport, just like I did for my table tennis career. But all of it would not happen if not for the local racing and local directors who have put those fun events on the map, since those races is what got me to the sport in the first place. And of course the local heroes, those are the ones that inspired me to keep pushing and dreaming bigger.
The most important person here that I have to thank however is my husband (Pax Tolosi) who dedicates his time and his heart to allowing my dreams to continue. Secondly, huge thanks to all my amazing friends and sponsors for always supporting and believing at me. It takes more than a village but it's all worth it. XTERRA is a fascinating sport and those who are part of it are amazing beings. I always look forward to the next race to see all those incredible people.