Staying Strong, Steady and Fast

Desert trails and lake keep ultra-runner and triathlete primed for summer season

By Dianna Troyer

Kim Reamer is jubilant as she comes off a steep trail at Hidden Falls Park in Sloan Canyon near Henderson, Nevada, finishing the half-marathon in March. Photos courtesy of Kim Reamer

“Strong is steady, and steady is fast.” Ultra-runner and triathlete Kim Reamer of West Wendover recites the motto while training for and competing in ultra races, Spartan contests and triathlons, including several Ironman competitions.

“When things get tough—and they always do in endurance events—I repeat that phrase to myself,” says the 48-year-old. “As long as I’m moving forward, I know I’ll finish. Relentless forward progress is my goal.”

Kim began running 22 years ago. Nine years ago, she started racing in triathlons, which combine runing, swimming and biking.

She says her training philosophy about moving forward applies to any goal in life and is an attitude she hopes to instill in her students at West Wendover High School, where she teaches English, coaches cross country and is yearbook adviser.

“When I’m outdoors running, biking or swimming, I’m in my happy place,” Kim says. “As a teacher, I’m constantly surrounded by people so I need my alone time to decompress, destress and just enjoy moving outside.”

Kim encourages people to exercise and try a moderate race.

“Anyone can do what I do,” she says. “I have no running talent. I wasn’t an athlete in high school. I simply have discipline and drive and willingness to suffer a little bit to get the reward of meeting my goals. Start with a 5K. If you put your mind to it, you can do it.”

Kim competes year-round, scheduling more races during summer when she has time off work. In early June, she finished a 50-kilometer (31-mile) ultramarathon in Bryce Canyon, Utah. At the end of the month, she did a 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) trail run near San Francisco.

All those miles helped prepare her for the Burley Spudman Olympic Triathlon, scheduled July 28 in southern Idaho.

Kim is covered in mud after a Spartan race in Midway, Utah.

“After the 50K in June, I got back on the bike and in the pool to get ready for the Spudman,” she says.

Kim’s training regimen varies, depending on the type of competition she enters. Generally, she exercises 8 to 10 hours a week and runs 18 to 30 miles a week.

“When I’m getting ready for a triathlon, I’ll swim a few hours a week just to get the endurance down,” she says.

In summer, she swims at the city pool. To train for triathlons during winter and spring, she drives to Blue Lake 25 miles south of town.

“It’s fed naturally by a spring, so the water temperature stays a constant 68 degrees,” she says. “It’s cold getting in and out, but once I’m in the water in my wetsuit, it’s great.”

She bikes 20 to 60 miles a week, mostly on her trainer during colder weather and on a mountain bike in summer.

During the school year, Kim starts her day at 4:30 a.m. in her workout room.

“I’m a total morning person and love the quiet hours I have to myself before the day gets going,” she says.

Whatever her schedule, Kim relies on an extensive network of trails around town.

“I’ve found gorgeous places all around the area that many people probably don’t know exist,” she says.

In 1996, Kim began exploring the trails after she and her husband, Jerome, moved from North Dakota to teach in the local schools.

Kim will compete again in the Burley Spudman Olympic Triathlon in Idaho.

“I started walking just to get some exercise, then running a few miles,” she says. “When I was able to run 5 miles, I began thinking about training for a half marathon. I’ve never looked back.”

Running eventually evolved into competing in triathlons. While training friends to run their first half marathon in the spring of 2009, one of them mentioned she planned to do a triathlon. “I immediately thought, ‘If she can do one, I can, too,’” Kim says. “I trained that summer and completed my first sprint triathlon in August 2009. I was hooked. My next triathlon was Ironman Boise 70.3 in June of 2010.”

Since then, Kim has completed four more Ironman triathlons, the most recent last year in St. George, Utah.

Her family is supportive. When she started competing years ago, Jerome brought their daughters, Sydney and Olivia, to every race.

“I had the easy job of just racing,” Kim says. “He had to park, figure out timing, get pictures and be at the finish. Several years ago, I realized my family members don’t need to be there for any of them anymore, unless they want to be. Sydney and Olivia have each done one triathlon with me and said the same thing at the finish: ‘Never again!’”

Kim’s medals from contests hang in her classroom at West Wendover High School to inspire students.

The finale of Kim’s summer season is August 4 at Crazy Bob’s Bair Gutsman Trail Half Marathon in northern Utah. The course up Bair Canyon and down Farmington Canyon has no trail. Organizers describe it as “a bushwhack into the jaws of death.” Kim will end the month with a more mellow race near home, the Ruby Mountain Timberline Trail Relay, August 25 southwest of Wells.

“I’ll run whatever else should come up over the summer,” she says, grinning.