Almost 20 years ago, when Rosalind Jarrett Sepulveda was 50, she went to her doctor for some routine tests and blood work.
“Oh my goodness,” says Rosalind today. “My doctor said my bone density was too low, my arterial calcification was too high, my cholesterol wasn’t good, and I was on a lot of asthma medications. I asked my doctor, ‘What am I supposed to do?’”
Rosalind’s doctor told her to start doing weight-bearing aerobic activity.
“I dragged my feet for a while,” she admits. “The first time I went out my front door to train, I made it a block before I had to stop. The first time I got in the pool, I made it halfway down the 25-yard pool before I had to rest. But what I lack in skill, I make up for in enthusiasm.”
A young friend of Rosalind’s was doing the AIDS Marathon in Hawaii. Another friend was over 80 and still running marathons.
“I asked my 84-year old friend how old he was when he started running marathons and he told me he was 55. I thought, ‘there goes my excuse.’”
Slowly but surely, Jarrett Sepulveda kept trying to do more.
“I was introduced to triathlons and liked the philosophy of swimming one day, biking one day, and running on another. I did my first triathlon in 2002 at Treasure Island. That’s also when I became a runner.”
Until triathlon, Jarrett Sepulveda’s sport was to race sailboats. But when she began training for triathlons, she discovered LA Tri Club as well as an aquathlon series (swim and run) called Playa del Run. The race series was hosted by Brennan Lindner, who today hosts the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series.
“In 2003, I did the Topanga Turkey Trot and that’s how I started trail running. I fell in love with it because you are outdoors and in nature and challenged by the question of where do I put my feet next? It was fabulous!”
Jarrett Sepulveda has been trail running every since. She continued with the Playa del Run series, which at the time, was a qualifier for the Aquathlon World Championship, which she qualified for and competed in 2006 when it was held in Switzerland. She’s since competed in numerous Triathlon and Duathlon World Championships and was her age group’s 2015 USA Duathlon National Champion.
“Representing Team USA is pretty awesome,” said Jarrett Sepulveda. “You’re part of a team and you’re proud. It’s kind of like going to a mini-Olympics.”
That same year, she began dating her now-husband Lamar, who was this year’s XTERRA Regional Champ in the 60-64 age group. The two also began training and competing together, and because of a shared passion to help other people, began volunteering to raise money to benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) and Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).
“Shortly after we began dating, Lamar wanted to give back to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County Cancer Institute, where Lamar’s son was treated for leukemia when he was three.” Together, Lamar and Rosalind founded the “Pay It Forward Challenge” to raise funds and awareness for charities and to inspire others to do so
In 2008, Lamar raised $15,000 for CHOC by completing a 611-mile solo state-to-state swim-bike-run from Venice Beach to Phoenix, Arizona. Rosalind, a successful publicist, created a media tour and planned the event to gain the maximum amount of donations.
“He’s a nutcase,” said Rosalind. “Right after his fiftieth birthday, Lamar ran 51 miles for the first time. He picked that number combination because 5150 is the police code for ‘crazy.’”
In 2012, Lamar set a new Guinness world record by running 64.35 miles in 12 hours on a treadmill to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Rosalind, who will turn 70 this year, is trying to figure out how to use her birthday to raise more funds for CAF.
“My aerobic system is not so fabulous,” admits Rosalind. “But I’ve got all my limbs. And my body tries to do what I tell it to. It’s stuff like that that gets me motivated now. I can use my body to raise money for other people.”
What also motivates Rosalind is how great she feels.
“My bones are better. I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been in my life. And I have a four-pack!”
Today, Rosalind still swims, bikes, runs, and does interval training and weights at her gym. Her blood pressure is so low that her doctor had to take her off her medication because it was making her dizzy. She is off her asthma meds and her cardiologist told her to go away.
At the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series, she is a true regular. She volunteers and runs at most of the races in the series (frequently taking first place in her age group) and she is known by her bright smile and contagious laugh.
“The health benefits of trail running and triathlon training have been amazing,” she said, “But the mental health benefits are even better. Running gives you tremendous confidence.”
Rosalind also wants to share her advice to anyone who wants to embrace their inner athlete but is too intimidated to sign up for a race.
“It’s never too late to start,” says Rosalind. “That’s the most important message. Do you know what they call the person who comes in last in a race?”
Rosalind waits for a beat and then answers her own question. “They call that person an athlete.”
Learn more about the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series.