Growing up three years apart, Janet Soule sometimes felt like she was in her big sister’s shadow.
“Dianne was big into track and had a horse she took care of,” said Janet. “She was more athletic than I was. I was more into the party thing at first and didn’t start running until later.”
Janet found marathons in college and then weight lifting. In 1999, when she was vacationing in Maui and recuperating from knee surgery, she and her friends saw banners announcing the XTERRA World Championship.
“Our friends watched the race and afterward they called my husband and said, ‘Dude, we should do this. It will be so much fun.’ At the time, Cliff couldn’t swim, but he got in the pool and learned.”
Janet joined her husband, Cliff Millemann, in triathlon training, and together, they entered a sprint triathlon. “I thought triathlon training was a great thing because, for the first time, I could bike and run pain-free. The cross-training was great for my knees.”
In 2001, Janet and Cliff went to XTERRA Worlds, which Janet describes as “mind-numbingly scary.”
Now, 20 years later, Janet and Cliff - who live in Davis, California - are fixtures on the America Tour. Last year, Janet placed first in the 55-59 age group at both XTERRA Beaver Creek and at the XTERRA Pan Am Championship in Ogden, Utah. Cliff was third in his age group at those same races.
Halfway across the country, Dianne parlayed her love of horses into a career as a veterinarian. She now owns her own practice in Boise, Idaho. Dianne remains athletic and was an avid runner for many years until she had to cut back because of arthritis in her knees. But this hasn’t stopped her from traveling to many of her sister’s races where she cheers for Janet and often jumps into the trail runs.
“This is actually the 7th time I've attended an XTERRA event with Janet, and the fifth time I’ve taken part in the trail run” said Dianne about the race at Kualoa Ranch. “I love traveling with my sister. She amazes and inspires me with her positive attitude and athletic abilities. We laugh and enjoy every minute.”
Janet echoes the sentiment.
“Dianne is my big sister. She’s the funniest most capable woman in my life. I just adore her. Getting to spend a weekend with her is such a treat. I’m lucky to have someone in my life like that.”
At the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, Janet again won her age group in the 21K trail run. During the 10K, Dianne’s knees gave her some trouble, but instead of giving up, she found a walking stick and finished the race the way a European trekker would, a big smile on her face the entire way.
“I was a little apprehensive,” admitted Dianne. “ I wasn't sure if I would even finish, but the energy of the other competitors gave me energy that I didn't know I had. It was awesome to come across the finish line with everyone cheering and yelling. The camaraderie of XTERRA events is really inspirational and inclusive.”
For Janet, the highlight wasn’t her latest victory, but watching her sister.
“The best part was that Dianne could participate in the 10K and get her mojo back. She was all in,” said Janet
The Soule sisters took advantage of all that Oahu has to offer, making each day of their trip together an adventure. The day before the race, they rented scooters and drove to Diamond Head, where they parked and hiked to the top. Then, they kept going, driving around the island despite wind and rain.
“It was so windy, the flag blew off my scooter,” said Janet. “I was so grateful for my XTERRA training because it was more of a mountain bike ride than being on the road. But every time I looked in my rearview mirror at Dianne, I could see her laughing.”
After the race, the sisters drank too much wine and rode to the post-race party on rented bicycles.
“This was my first trail run, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the friendliness, community, and love of life that I’ve grown accustomed to in XTERRA triathlons was there on the trail running side too," said Janet. "You just get the feeling that there is always an adventure around the next corner.”