STAMFORD, Conn. -- The last time Stamford’s Kathryn Rambo stepped on the starting line for a triathlon, she rocked the blue and gold colors for UCLA and faced the fastest collegiate women in the nation.
On Sunday, she’ll compete in the Sprint race of the KIC It Triathlon in Stamford, competing against a range of athletes that spans six decades, both genders and various fitness levels. And, Rambo added, she'll still be rocking the blue and gold.
A lot has changed in 14 months for Rambo, a 22-year-old native of California who competed for the Bruins, who won their third straight Women's Collegiate National Championship earlier this year. Since her last college race in April of 2015, Rambo graduated from college, moved across the country, took a job with Westport-based Team Epic.
She also put down her bike for months, and ran and swam only sporadically. Rambo had sidelined fitness goals until February, when a friend from her church in Stamford suggested competing in the Stamford race with her. Rambo registered, needing a goal to re-establish her motivation.
“At first it was hard to get back into training,’’ Rambo said. “I’m not a morning person. When I trained with the team, I had people holding me accountable. Moving from the West Coast and starting a new job, re-setting expectations was definitely hard.”
Rambo also adopted a cause. She is raising funds for Kids In Crisis, the Cos Cob-based children’s support center that sponsors the race. She quickly found support from her Team Epic colleagues, and now leads all Sprint distance triathletes in fundraising for Kids In Crisis.
“I had raised funds for some races when I lived in California, but coming out here I had an entirely different network, and didn't know what to expect,’’ Rambo said. “When I looked into Kids In Crisis, I knew it was something I could get behind, especially with the large cut in government funding this year. After I signed up, I sent out a letter to my co-workers and the friends I've made in Stamford. Their support has been absolutely incredible. Within 20 minutes I had already reached my initial goal.”
A lifelong swimmer, Rambo played club water polo for two years at UCLA before turning to triathlon. “At first, finishing a triathlon was a bucket list thing,’’ she said. “After my freshman year, I wasn’t taking summer classes and didn't have a summer job, so had free time to start training. I could not run or bike for the life of me at the time.”
When she returned to school, friends convinced her to join the team, as she was already doing swimming workouts for water polo anyway . “They’re a very persuasive group,’’ Rambo said. While she didn't directly contribute to the team’s success on the podium, she found that she really enjoyed the sport.
Rambo now feels equally confident in all three disciplines, and has found enjoyment getting to know Fairfield County, Connecticut and the region’s vibrant endurance sports community.
“I was definitely concerned,’’ Rambo said when asked about moving from sunny California to Connecticut’s colder climate. “I just didn’t know how big endurance sports would be here. In Los Angeles, it was a huge part of the culture. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised -- I’ve seen a lot of cyclists, swimmers and runners, and the whole community has been just as welcoming here as I remember at home.”
Switching coasts, living independently, and entering the workforce were big adjustments for Rambo. Her athletic goals have become less of a priority, but her work and lifestyle have helped ease the transition.
“I love it here for a lot of reasons,’’ Rambo said. “Now that I’m getting back into triathlon and getting more involved in the community, it’s starting to truly feel like my home.”
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