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From Setbacks to Success: Ashley Anderson’s Triathlon Journey

From Setbacks to Success Ashley Anderson Ironman Triathlete
Ashley Anderson
Year started: 2015
Next race: July 23, 2023 / Oregon 70.3 / Salem, OR
Favorite gear:
  • Zoot Tri Kit

In the world of triathlon, where endurance, determination, and resilience are paramount, Ashley Anderson’s journey stands out as a testament to the human spirit. Having started her triathlon adventure in 2016, Ashley’s path has been marked by triumphs, setbacks, and a relentless pursuit of personal growth. As an ambassador of the sport through her affiliations with Bike Law, Zoot Sports, and GU Energy Labs, Ashley has become an inspiration for athletes seeking to go from setbacks to success. She has had to overcome injuries, embrace beginner challenges, and embark on her own triathlon destination.

From Setbacks to Success: Ashley Anderson’s Triathlon Journey

Finding Her Passion and Overcoming Adversity

Before triathlon, Ashley’s athletic pursuits encompassed basketball and horseback riding in high school, where she relied on her hustle and determination to outperform athletes with better skills. In 2015, she discovered endurance sports through running. An attending faculty member in dental school (VCU in Richmond for my DDS degree, 2013-2017) challenged her to a local half-marathon, which she raced in without much training. Triathlon came into the picture during residency in pediatric dentistry (MUSC in Charleston,  2017-2019). Ashley wanted to continue to find community while in residency and stay active in a new area.

Ashley ventured into triathlons, starting with the Charleston Sprint Tri Series. In her first year in triathlon, she raced in the age group category. Her coach encouraged her to race in the open/elite category in the second year. Despite moving up in competition, Ashley landed on the podium in the 1, 2, or 3 spot for each of the 5 races in the series. In 2019, she won the entire series as the overall female.That second season and overall win was her “aha moment” in triathlon. Her confidence, ability, and desire to see how far she could go in the sport grew. Following this ‘aha moment’ she decided to race at Augusta in her first 70.3.

Navigating Challenges and Rising Above

Ashley’s journey was not without hurdles. A disqualification for running in the wrong direction and a bike accident resulting in a hairline fracture tested her resilience. However, these setbacks propelled her forward. During her rehab from the fracture, she channeled her energy into swimming, both as a means to recover mentally and physically from the injury. Her determination and perseverance paid off as she completed her first 70.3 in Augusta, GA, leading to four 140.6 Ironman finishes, including the prestigious 70.3 World Championships and Ironman World Championships in St. George.


Triumph over Health Issues

Despite being diagnosed with aggressive ulcerative colitis, she refused to let the disease define her. Ashley’s low moments during diagnosis and treatment made her question her future in the sport. However, with her condition under control and in remission, she proved that her determination could conquer any obstacle. Even moments of humility, such as her 16-hour finish at worlds, taught her valuable lessons. Encountering a fellow athlete, Luis, during the race became a transformative experience. Ashley was able to reset her expectations and rekindle her love for triathlon.

Triathlon as a Second Family

Triathlon transformed from a mere outlet into a second family for Ashley. She didn’t think I was “good enough for a team,” but figured what do I have to lose? and applied for the Zoot Team. This was also at the encouragement of her coach. The Zoot Sports team application was met with approval and she began to represent the brand.. The team is large but she was able to broaden her circle of triathlon family. After moving  back to Virginia after her residency in South Carolina, she found some of her first friends were Zooters. Those first friends are still some of her dearest friends today.

Ashley was asked to serve as team captain for the Mid-Atlantic region (VA, NC, SC, TN, WV, MD, DE, DC) in 2021. She is currently in her 6th season on the team and second as team captain. Being able to serve the team in a leadership role is a privilege and an honor. The role allows her to inspire beginners and bring together many different athletes within the region.

Lessons Learned and Advice for Beginners

Ashley’s journey has not only shaped her as an athlete but also as an individual. Her profession as a pediatric dentist, working with kids and individuals with special needs, has grounded her perspective. Ashley emphasizes the importance of self-grace, understanding that there are challenges in life far greater than training or racing. She has learned to prioritize rest and listen to her body, embracing flexibility and progress over perfection. Her coach, Greg Grosicki, has evolved in his approach as well. He recognized, along with Ashley, the need for a balanced life and training to prevent physical and mental exhaustion.

Unleashing the Inner Champion

Ashley Anderson’s triathlon journey is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and the human spirit. Through triumphs and setbacks, she has become an inspiration for athletes seeking to overcome injuries. Beyond overcoming injuries, Ashley shows others how to embrace the challenges of starting a triathlon journey. Her story highlights the importance of perseverance, self-grace, and flexibility in pursuing personal goals. As Ashley continues to excel in her sport and support others as an ambassador, her journey serves as a reminder that anything is possible with time, energy, and an unwavering belief in oneself. From setbacks to success, write your own story!