New year, new blog series. It gives me great joy to interview women in the world doing things that make you say "wow." May the paths and perspective of the women in our "Woman Crush Wednesday" series inspire you in a personal way to make your woman-power footprint on the world.
2021 was the 10th annual Kerrville Tri and it attracted over 1,800 athletes- record-breaking participation. Although every person who completed the mega-challenging swim-bike-run event is a champion, “MVP” honors have to go to Kellie Dewveall, the first blind participant to complete the Quarter distance tri. And “co-MVP” honors were earned by Cheyenne Meyer, Kellie’s guide.
This is how it worked for the partners to pull off this spectacular accomplishment:
For the swim, Kellie was tethered to Cheyenne at the waist. For the bike, the duo rode a tandem bike. For the run, they used a hand tether and verbal cues.
Kellie and Cheyenne exited the swim at Nimitz Lake, tethered together at the waist. Photo credit High Five Events.
To ensure a fun, safe experience for Kellie and Cheyenne, High Five Events race directors made thoughtful arrangements. They assigned a kayak volunteer to stay with them through the swim. They gave them their own paratriathlete bike rack. And they let the two start early to ensure that no one got tangled up in their swim tether. The duo took off about 10-minutes before the pack to the tune of roaring applause from fellow athletes and spectators. Kellie and Cheyenne completed the event in 4 hours 17 minutes. This is not the first time this dynamic duo have joined forces in an endurance event but it was the longest.
Kellie and Cheyenne perform the cycling part of the competition on a tandem bike. Pictured: Cheyenne in front, Kellie in back. Photo credit Scott Flathouse.
BB: Cheyenne and you have partnered in triathlons in the past, right?
KD: Yes, Cheyenne was my guide in the Texas State Time Trial Championships. We won first place for women’s guided tandem!
BB: Is Cheyenne is your guide in all triathlons that you do?
KD: No, we live in different cities. I train mostly with Powerhouse Racing in Webster, TX. Cheyenne has been a sighted guide for a ton of athletes since 2017, so it was easy for her to pick up on my quirks and make me feel comfortable.
BB: Yikes, living in different cities, how did the two of you prepare?
KD: To prepare for this race specifically, we drove the course the day before, practiced a few of the tricky turns as well as starts/stops, and walked through transitions so I would have a better orientation for race day.
BB: How did you get into doing triathlons?
KD: I was a Paralympic track and field athlete in the 1980s and ‘90s. I competed in two Paralympic Games. After taking 24 years off, I wanted to achieve new goals that would push me beyond my comfort zone. I was already a runner and had raced on a tandem before, so the swim was the only new thing for me to learn. I didn’t start swimming until May 2019. I completed my first triathlon that July. Triathlon was a great outlet for me to heal from some tough experiences in my life.
For other sporting events, I love strength training (TRX), running, open water swimming, cycling and triathlon. Cycling has become my favorite of these, but I will be running the Houston Marathon again on January 16, 2022.
BB: Wow! That's so super cool. I bet our BrookBenten tribe will be tracking you in the Houston Marathon. I know I will be. Cheyenne and you make a great team- hope she may be running alongside you in-- a week and a half!
BB: Cheyenne, how did you get in to guiding sight-impaired triathletes?
CM: I found a passion for triathlons during grad school. I was training for the USA Triathlon National Championships in 2016 when I was hit by a car. The accident broke my pelvis in seven places and it took months before I could even walk again. Today, I’m full of metal, but fully recovered and still enjoying the sport. After my accident, I shifted from competing on my own to primarily lending my eyes to athletes who are blind/deafblind. I find it’s way more fun and rewarding to compete alongside someone else and help them achieve their goals.
BB: What the two of you are doing is awe-inspiring. As a fellow fitness enthusiast, myself, Cheyenne, props to you for sharing your love of the sport with others and giving them the opportunity to show what they can do. Kellie, way to raise the bar on what’s possible. Plenty of people would think that vision loss would take a person out of athletic events like triathlons and marathons, but you’ve self-selected yourself into them and shown us what’s possible. Thanks for the inspirational medicine, ladies!
Kellie and Cheyenne gloriously finish the 2021 Kerrville Triathlon Quarter-distance event in 4:17:47. Photo credit High Five Events.
While Kellie likes to fly under the radar on social media, you can track her progress at the 2022 Houston Marathon on Sunday, January 16, 2022. You can follow Cheyenne on Instagram at @jcheyennemeyer.