One of the most heartwarming stories from the recent XTERRA Wetsuits Mission Bay Triathlon, held on Sunday, Oct. 9, was that of family members Elizabeth Spitsbergen, Ali Spitsbergen, Jolene Berres, and Christine Jones Berres who all took part in the event.
“I’m an only girl with three brothers,” said Ali. “Never had sisters. Now I have amazing sisters-in-law on each side and I asked each one to do this with me two weeks before the triathlon.”
The 42-year-old mother of four and nurse almost didn’t finish the event after her hamstring seized up and she started feeling fatigued. Then she heard Christine’s voice from behind telling her that they were pacing one of the male competitors and ended up finishing together.
“My sister-in-law Elizabeth is a film director and producer and I married her older brother Joshua, my sister-in-law Christine married my older brother Craig and is a doctor of audiology, my sister-in-law Jolene married my other older brother John Paul, and is a school nurse at Horizon Prep in Ranch Santa Fe,” Ali said.
Three of them are local to San Diego, except for Christine who flew in from Chicago and has raced in several triathlons since last year. Ali took part in one 16 years ago when she moved to San Diego from Chicago and this was the first one for both Elizabeth and Jolene.
“I became interested in triathlon last summer when I did my first multisport endurance race,” said Christine. “I have always been a runner and was looking for more variety, new challenges, and sustainable forms of fitness. I started asking around early this summer to find a couple of friends to train and do a triathlon with.”
Elizabeth went to Tri Club San Diego to learn some of the rules and how to manage transitioning from one discipline to the other on race day. She started doing two workouts a day and sunrise ocean swims.
“The crunch to prepare was insane, but I enjoyed every minute,” she said. “I bought an entry-level bike and had a friend teach me how to do a flying dismount and how to run with the bike. Everything was new and exhilarating.”
All four of them plan to take part in more events like these in the near future and recommend everyone, regardless of experience level, take part in a triathlon at least once.