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Perseverance Personified: Lisa Roberts

Lisa Roberts finishes third at Subaru Ironman Mont-Tremblant. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon
Lisa Roberts finishes third at Subaru Ironman Mont-Tremblant. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

The last time I saw Lisa Roberts she was sitting in front of the media tent at Ironman Lanzarote, pretty much crying her eyes out. As she walked past the media area at the finish line of Subaru Ironman Mont-Tremblant last weekend she looked at me and said “No tears this time!”

The tears were replaced this time by a huge smile, one that was totally justified thanks to a third place finish and a three-hour marathon on a day when pretty much everyone else in the field was folding in the extreme heat.

The tears had come in Lanzarote after Roberts gutted through the sport’s most challenging bike ride with a grand total of one gear thanks to a mechanical issue. The determined Roberts finished the bike course anyway, with its 3,000+ metres of climbing, but was far enough behind her competition to realize that she’d be much better off saving herself for another day.

That “other day” came a month later when Roberts ran a 2:54 marathon to move herself to second place at Ironman Nice. Less than two months after that she proved that she’s one of the sport’s best runners with her impressive Mont-Tremblant run and close third place finish behind two of the best athletes in the sport – Mary Beth Ellis and Liz Blatchford.

“I thoroughly enjoyed this race,” she said of the Mont-Tremblant experience. “It has the hills to it, it gets warm … I thrive on that.”

Originally from Illinois, Roberts grew up as a distance runner. A scholarship runner, she eventually ended up in Tucson, Arizona to do her Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture and never left. After some great years on the age group front, she turned pro in 2009.

It isn’t just between races that Roberts shows her determined perseverance – she was the second-last pro out of the water in Tremblant last Sunday, 14 minutes behind Ellis. Once she’s on dry land, though, she manages to make up time on even the sports very best. She ran her way to 20th in Kona last year, and has those two podium performances so far in 2015, with Ironman Chattanooga still on her schedule, too.

“Ironman is a long day and I just keep plugging along and whatever happens, happens,” the Timex Multisport Team athlete says. “I pick off as many girls as I can along the way.”

Lisa Roberts is a pro triathlete who personifies so much of the sport. Grit, determination, a willingness to work hard and the will to never give up. That was a well-earned podium finish last Sunday.