Mother of four, practicing physician wins three major provincial races in one year
Kathy Whelan of St. Johns has found success in a number of sports including cross-country skiing, triathlon and cycling. Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Glancing through Kathy Whelan's recent sporting resume, it's obvious she's one of the top, and most underrated, female athletes in St. John's.
Whelan won the provincial cross-country skiing marathon in Clarenville in March, then finished first in the St. John's Triathlon in August before claiming the championship at the Tour De Shore cycling competition on the Labour Day weekend.
But even with three provincial championships in three different sports, Whelan insists crossing the finish line first is the not the be-all and end-all.
"To be perfectly honest, it's not about winning with me. It really isn't," Whelan said. "I just love a challenge, but I don't enter that challenge with the goal of winning."
While some athletes might say it's not about winning, but secretly obsess about topping their competition, the statement sounds believable coming from Whelan.
The 41-year-old St. John's resident has already accomplished a great deal in life. She's a proud mother of four and a practicing physician, and doesn't need to be defined by her athletic achievements.
She participates because of her love of new challenges, staying fit and setting a good example of healthy living for her children.
"My parents were into healthy living and encouraged me to get into competitive swimming when I was a kid," Whelan said.
"It's important to incorporate your kids into your workouts. They are not always part of it with you when you're skiing or biking, but they're always included in some way. They understand it's a challenge you set for yourself and they know being active is important. I just think it's important to give them a well rounded life."
With a busy work schedule and young children (her kids are between four and 12-years-old) to raise, it's a wonder Whelan finds any time to work out, let alone take part in competitive sporting events.
Sometimes she has to train late at night after the kids are sleeping and work is done, but these are just minor obstacles to an athlete with the kind of drive and dedication Whelan exhibits on a daily basis.
"I'm sure there's lots of things I haven't done yet that would be a lot of fun. I'm willing to try anything that challenges me," said Whelan, whose husband, Jim, is also a triathlete and cross-country skier and a St. John's eye surgeon.
Born in New Brunswick
Whelan was born and raised in a small town just outside Saint John, N.B. and arrived in St. John's in 1988 to attend Memorial University med school.
Prior to this, she competed at the 1981 Canada Games and swam competitively for Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. where she began taking part in triathlons on the advice of her swim coach.
She's piled up wins and impressive showings at triathlons and road races ever since and won her first St. John's Triathlon in 1989, 10 years before winning her second in 1999.