Kingston’s Beth Brewster to compete in Ultraman World Championship
By Kris Parfitt
Photo at right: Beth Brewster stands outside her shop, Kingston Adventures. Photo by Jennifer Eckert
“Didn’t they just call your name?” asked Beth Brewster’s high school buddy after they both competed for the first time in the 1987 Seafair Triathlon.
“The only reason we went to the awards ceremony was for the free food,” says Brewster. “But I walked away with first place in the Under 18 Category.”
Growing up, Brewster preferred watching golf over cartoons.
“My dad worked at CBS Sports so pretty much anything athletic-based was our family lifestyle,” she says. “But even with a core foundation in sports and a first-place medal under her proverbial endurance-race belt, Brewster didn’t compete again in a sports race until several years later.
“My husband Rob’s Coast Guard boat was positioned as security for the Hawaiian Ironman when we lived on Hilo,” she says. “I wasn’t that interested in endurance races, but I sat and watched the athletes cross the finish line.”
Brewer became addicted to endurance racing when she saw the deep emotions on the athletes’ faces as they finished. However, she knew that she couldn’t just sign up to race the Ironman; she needed to qualify.
Already strong in running and swimming, Brewster’s next frontier was biking.
“We were so poor when we lived in Hawaii that we lived on rice and papayas,” she says. “Buying a bike was out of the question. But I knew I had to make it happen when Rob surprised me with one.”
And make it happen she did. A few years later she qualified for the Kona Ironman. Earlier this year she was invited to the Ultraman World Championship—the longest endurance race in the world which is a two-day, 320-mile race divided into a 6.2-mile open-water swim, a 261.4-mile bike ride with 6,000 feet of vertical climbing finished by a 52.4-mile run.
Training for any endurance race requires time and creating a healthy environment.
“When I was first invited to race the Ultraman in 2009, I worked an emotionally draining corporate job and it was hard to train without the required physical and mental energy,” says Brewster, 43. “I knew my life had to be different in order to train for the Ultraman.”
Brewsters’ strategy included moving from Seattle to Kingston, Wash., and starting Kingston Adventures, a multi-sport rental and guiding business (www.kingstonadventures.com). It took three years to grow the company to a point where she could leave the staff and train.
She applied again to participate in the 2013 Ultraman and received the invitation in mid-May for the race Nov. 29–Dec. 1.
“It takes a year to train for this race and I started last November,” says Brewster. “It’s hard to train for an event when you don’t know if you’re going to qualify.”
Ten women raced in last year’s Ultraman and only seven finished. And, as the first woman from the Pacific Northwest to be invited, she sees this as an opportunity to pave the way for other women to race, too.
“I think as women we have a reason to inspire and motivate and help each other. The power of telling someone with a goal that you believe in them can make the difference between whether they do it or not. As women mentors it’s our responsibility to build confidence for life—I believe it’s the foundation for everything.”
When asked why she competes in extreme endurance races, Brewster says she is inspired by “that feeling.”
“During a race you get to the point where everything in your body is telling you ‘no’ and you see people crashing. You actually start believing that it’s OK to quit. But when you push through the pain and doubt, you open a door within and you meet a person you would have never met had you not done that.”
While sharks are Brewster’s number one concern during the swim, the distances are daunting, too.
“I’ve raced Ultraman distances before in tough hot conditions and finished. But you don’t know how your body is going to ultimately perform until you’re in the race,” she says.
Her crew will be feeding her millet fritters, baby red potatoes in salt and olive oil, and two deflated liters of Coke and Cal-Mag with glutamine for muscle recovery over the course of the race—a time-tested menu that has helped her win endurance races before.
She doesn’t take pain killers or anti-inflammatory medicines because she believes it is important to know what hurts.
“I’ve had a broken toe in a race, a torn ligament and other sprains but I figure if the injury is not going to cause long-term damage or kill me, then I’ll just get through it.”
As a business owner, women’s retreat facilitator, community mentor, extreme endurance racer, fit athlete, director of SUP camps for kids, and wife—Brewster gets through it with humble grace, a good sense of humor and a strong healthy foundation.
The 2013 Ultraman World Championship takes place Nov. 29–Dec. 1 on the Big Island of Hawaii. Learn more at www.ultramanlive.com.
Kris Parfitt is a freelance writer in Seattle. When she isn’t writing she teaches nutritional cooking classes and provides wellness coaching for active women. She travels often and is known to play well with others.