Celebrating the Strength in All Women: Judy Rykken
The YWCA Women’s Triathlon exists to celebrate the strength in all women, and at 74 years old, Judy Rykken is leading the celebration. For the past five years, Judy has won the 70-74 age group and been the oldest finisher in the race. And that is just one of many impressive things about her.
Judy has a lifetime of incredible accomplishments that highlight her strength and dedication to leading an active life. “Events are very motivating. The Women’s Triathlon brings together women of all ages and abilities and enables them to share a happy experience. There are always things in life you can’t control: disease, work problems, family issues, but you can do your best to eat right, exercise, and enjoy each moment,” says Judy.
She still competes in several triathlons, duathlons and running events every year, adding to her impressive feat of having finished more than 120 triathlons. Since she married her husband Ken in 1956, they both have competed in ski races, triathlons, and taken many long-distance bicycle trips. Their three children and seven grandchildren are also active in sports. Judy coached the University of Minnesota men’s and women’s nordic teams to win four National Collegiate Championships, started the ski team at Lakeville High School and coached skiing at Edina High School until retirement in 1994. Judy has been featured in numerous articles and recognized with accolades, enough to fill a binder which she will pass along to her seven grandchildren.
At the YWCA Women’s Triathlon in August, Amanda, age 30, was participating in her first triathlon. As many do, she took note of Judy’s performance. “I was floored by how Judy walloped my time by a solid half hour. She’s 74! That’s wicked awesome, no two ways about it.” When Judy talks with other racers like Amanda, her response exemplifies her positive style as a coach and motivator. “Your time doesn’t matter — what is important is that you enjoy it and feel the energy from everyone and be proud of your effort. Always do your best and then set a goal for next year!”
Judy definitely provides motivation to other aspiring and seasoned women athletes. Her advice for other aspiring and seasoned athletes? “Find an activity you love and do it. Think of when you were young and remember what you liked to do as a child? Skate? Run — before you thought of it as exercise? Bike with friends? Climb? It’s important to keep moving so you can enjoy every minute of life as you get older. Whoever said ‘use it or lose it’ made a great point. Each one of us can continue to celebrate our own unique strength as we age, and by staying strong, we will be able to do more for others.”
The YWCA’s commitment to women’s wellness stems from many of the values Judy exhibits, especially her positive attitude and commitment to a lifetime of activity.
Registration for the Sixth Annual YWCA of Minneapolis Women’s Triathlon is open.