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#MomsWhoTri: Mother-Daughter Role Models Take the Tri

By YWCA Minneapolis
May 8, 2017
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Longtime YWCA Minneapolis Board Member Pam Axberg is ready for her ninth Women’s Tri. After years of participating and volunteering with YWCA Minneapolis, the triathlon has become a family affair. Pam recruited her family for volunteer positions at the YWCA Women’s Triathlon year after year, hoping the day would help them see how important health and fitness was and give them a role model for the future.

“I wanted them to see they had an awesome mom,” she says. “I didn’t consider myself a triathlete. I didn’t consider myself a runner. I didn’t consider myself a swimmer. But I thought to myself – OK, you can be average at everything and that’s OK.”

“Recruiting” Her Daughter to Join

Although Pam quickly admits to being an average triathlete, she never misses the YWCA Women’s Tri and always strives to beat her times from previous years. In 2013, Pam’s daughter, Liz, joined her mother in the race – but initially, not by choice. When Pam went to sign Liz up for a relay with family friends, Pam’s instinct to get the most out of her money kicked in. Instead of signing Liz up for one leg of the relay, she signed her up for the whole race, which was the same price.

“She asked me if I could help out her friends and just do the swimming portion,” Liz says. “Then a week before, she said, ‘Oh, I actually signed you up for the whole thing!’”

“She was not too happy with me,” laughs Pam.

Never Giving Up

Liz had done a kid’s triathlon previously, but the Women’s Tri seemed daunting. Pam reassured Liz by telling her that if she ever felt too fatigued, she could just stop. But Liz never gave up, finished the race, and has participated in every Women’s Triathlon since.

“I just kept going and finished it,” Liz says. “I’ve done it every year since and have not regretted it.”

Mother-Daughter Duo

This mother-daughter duo is back at the YWCA Women’s Tri each year because of the inspiring atmosphere of strong women. They love how everyone encourages one another, no matter their skill level or abilities.

“Because of the supportive atmosphere, the bravado isn’t really there,” Pam says. “No matter what you do, everyone just celebrates the fact that you are out there. I never would have believed there would be so many different types of people competing in a triathlon. It’s a really remarkable thing.”

“There are so many amazing women out there,” says Liz, turning to her Mom: “I remember the first year – I thought you were so amazing to be able to do a triathlon.”

Setting and Working Toward Goals

Last year, Pam and Liz took second in the mother-daughter category of the triathlon. Both women had never imagined themselves as triathletes and are grateful for the YWCA Women’s Triathlon for showing them what they can accomplish. Pam uses her participation in the triathlons as proof that setting a goal and working towards it can help you accomplish tasks you never thought possible. And in trying to be a role model to her children, Pam gained a role model for herself.

“My daughter has become my athletic role model,” Pam says. “She didn’t really like sports or think she could do it, and to watch her grow into it, gain confidence and determination – she’s better than I ever could hope to be. It makes me really proud.”

Send Us Your Stories!

For the next few weeks, we’re celebrating our #MomsWhoTri – mothers of all ages who are overcoming obstacles and working hard to compete in the #YWCAWomensTri. We want to hear your stories!

1.     Email us a photo and your story (500 words or less) to 


2.     Post your story on social media, use the hashtag #MomsWhoTri and tag our YWCA Minneapolis Women’s Triathlon page to be featured.