You may have seen her fearlessly swinging her tennis racket or working the cardio and weight machines of the Ashland Tennis and Fitness Club. What you may not have known is that she is actually training as an elite athlete, for a world championship. Her name is Julia Lester; and she is member of the Keauhou Canoe Club of Kalilua Kona, Hawaii.
Living full-time in Ashland, but spending a considerable amount time each year in Hawaii, Julia is a member of a V-6 Outrigger Canoe Team. When in Hawaii, Julia and her teammates have been practicing racing starts, sprints, turns under 6 seconds. Each seat in the canoe has a specific role in these maneuvers. While in Ashland, Julia has been training with a gym workout designed by the ATFC trainers.
What makes this experience even more inspiring for both Julia and those that know her, is that this year’s competition is the first year in which the 15th Annual Va’a (Outrigger) World Sprint Championships ,held in Calgary, has opened the women over 70 division. Julia’s team is calling themselves the TOB Crew (aka Tough Old Broads/ or Tough Old Birds).
These dynamic women will be carrying on an ancient tradition of Va’a racing. Va’a have been traversing the Pacific Ocean for more than 4000 years, originating in what we know as Polynesia. The early historical races were mostly between fishermen and families. Later these races were held between different islands to compete with each other. Today, paddlers from all over the world come together to race in Va’a, the modern outrigger canoe.
Julia is an inspiration not only to women over the age of 70, but of women of all ages. Julia teaches us that we can be athletes and push those boundaries of physical strength and stamina at any age. Julia’s championship will be held on August 11-15. If you have any questions for Julia or just want to wish her good luck, you can reach her firstname.lastname@example.org.