9-Year-Old Triathlete Makes History

If you are looking for motivation to kick-start your daily exercise routine here it is:

At just 9 years old Winter Vinecki swam 1.5k (a little less than a mile), biked 40k (roughly 25 miles) and ran 10k (about 6.2 miles) in less than 4 hours. And she didn’t do it because she loves to exercise; rather the Michigan native competed in the inaugural Athletes for a Cure Triathlon at the Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida last week for one reason—her dad.

Winter’s father is fighting for his life. Michael Vinecki was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of prostate cancer earlier this year. When doctors couldn’t say how long Michael had to live, Winter sprung into action. In the six weeks between her dad’s diagnosis and a 12-hour Father’s Day surgery at the Mayo Clinic, Winter dedicated herself to training for the triathlon in an effort to raise money for cancer research and honor her beloved father.

She’s 9-years-old, people.

Winter went into the triathlon with a goal of raising $10,000 specifically for prostate cancer research and to make people aware of the importance of early detection. In addition, the spry preteen says she wanted to pay tribute to her dad by fighting to stay on the course as hard as he has to stay alive. In the end Winter exceeded her original goal by helping raise more than $100,000. She was able to do so by getting (for the first time ever) the entire field of competitors at the Athletes for a Cure Triathlon to compete as a single team: Team Winter. According to race organizers, every participant registered as a fundraiser symbolically “gave” their fundraising total to Team Winter.

As for how well Winter performed on the course, after being given a ten-minute head start in front of the nearly 1,000 competing athletes she was able to cross the finish line in a time of 03:59:04 hours, beating 62 of her fellow competitors. Winter’s mother, Dawn Vinecki, who is also a triathlete, was at her side for the entire race providing encouragement. In addition, several other world-famous triathletes also stuck by Winter during the grueling event. Simon Lessing, former World Champion triathlete was at her side for the swim and running segments, and former World and Ironman Champion Karen Smyers ran with Winter in the final leg of the competition.

Winter’s dad (who is also a triathlete… I guess it must run in the family) is currently back at the Mayo Clinic recovering from more surgery and undergoing more treatment. The pint-sized dynamo says she thought of her dad the entire time she was out on the course and was determined to finish (despite being physically exhausted) to show her dad how much she is inspired by his fight to stay alive.

After reading that what’s an hour on the treadmill, right?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.