This weekend, South Central Regional Champ Alissa Magrum will participate in a different sort of triathlon. For one thing, it will start in a pool. For another, there will be 400 kids there, aged five to fifteen.
This event - Colin's Hope Kids Triathlon - is the perfect reality of Magrum's dream to use physical talents and fun and a little competition to help people and save lives. Magrum is the executive director of Colin’s Hope, a non-profit with a mission to raise water safety awareness to prevent drowning. In 2016, Magrum and the Colin's Hope Athlete Ambassadors raised over $80,000 by collecting pledges and competing in marathons, triathlons, and swims.
“Drowning remains the number one cause of accidental death for children under five, and I’m passionate about changing that. We sponsor swim safety classes and swim lessons for children and educate families so they can be safer around water,” said Magrum, who is also an XTERRA Ambassador.
Magrum knows too well how devastating the water can be. A friend of hers lost his life in the water during a triathlon and the non-profit she runs is was created after her daughter's pre schoolmate, Colin, drowned in a public lifeguarded pool when he was four.
Colin's parents, founded Colin's Hope three months after he drowned. Soon after, Magrum became and immediate volunteer. When sidelined from biking and running after hip surgery, she called and said, "I'm going to swim four miles in Lake Austin and I'd like to raise twenty thousand dollars for Colin's Hope."
Done and done. Today, as the executive director of Colin's Hope, Magrum helps raise almost four hundred thousand dollars a year for the organization.
The Colin's Hope Kids Triathlon is just one of Colin's Hope fundraisers. But as excited as she is about the race, Magrum is just as excited to see kids out there competing in her favorite sport and doing it for a higher cause- to prevent drowning.
"I've done sports since I was four years old, so I've made it a personal mission to grow young athletes who care," said Magrum, "When I found XTERRA five years ago, it was like I found my place. I love the camaraderie of the tribe and hearing everyone's stories. It's much bigger than going out and competing in the three sports I love. It's about putting your heart out there."
Like Deanna McCurdy, who races to raise awareness for Angelman Syndrome, Magrum uses her triathlons as a platform for water safety and drowning prevention.
In addition to her full time job, Magrum and her wife Keri - also an amazing athlete - have three middle school daughters with busy schedules of their own.
"My racing fits in the cracks," said Magrum, referring to her schedule. "I may have to get up at four in the morning to fit in a workout."
But Magrum is emphatic that exercise is not negotiable. When her daughter was little and Magrum was a single parent, she hired a babysitter to come over at five in the morning so she could run or bike or swim. The other day, Magrum had to take her daughter to athletics, at six thirty in the morning, so she got up earlier to fit in her own workout.
"Training is my balance," said Magrum. "Food, water, and exercise. I don't let excuses get in my way."
Magrum is passionate that the girls see strong role models who work hard and are committed to their passions.
"Racing is fun and good for my health, but I'm also racing for a higher purpose. For me, it's bigger than just winning."
This year, Magrum competed in her local Texas races as well as XTERRA Beaver Creek. Because she is a three-time XTERRA Regional Champ, you might expect her to talk about her race strategy, her wins, or how she blew everyone out of the water on the swim. Instead, she talks about the beautiful wildflowers on the XTERRA Beaver Creek course and how the Texas athletes support one another on and off the trail.
"I just love being around the XTERRA people and I am proud to be an XTERRA ambassador," said Magrum. "Shoot. Now I'm going to cry."