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Beline Obeid

Racing Mom ends career with gold

Annette Stapleton with Team USA coach, Jay Ingram, who also coaches the Wolverines of Great Skate in Roseville. Photo courtesy of Annette Stapleton
September 19, 2013
Annette Stapleton ended her 15-year career as an inline speed skater in a golden way. The 34-year-old, known to her peers as Racing Mom, a nickname she earned for being the only mother and the oldest female who competed at the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia, this past August and September, also proved the fastest.

Stapleton, in one of her final races, lapped the pack of 34 of the world’s best speed skaters in the Women’s Elimination 15000m Run en route to a 27:27.736 finish and gold medal at the sport’s biggest stage.

“It was awesome,” said Stapleton, who represented Team USA during the World Games, the Olympics for non-Olympic sports. Like the Olympics, the Games occurs every four years and encompasses the world’s best talents in events such as rugby, korfball, jiu jitsu and inline speed skating.

“It felt like you were in the Olympics,” Stapleton said, adding she enjoyed the superstar status she received from the Colombian people. “No matter where you went, you were kind of mobbed with people trying to take your picture, getting your autograph. People were just so friendly. That was probably the best racing experience ever, even without the medal.”

To Stapleton, a distance skater who contends she’s not naturally athletic, it’s likely one of the most satisfying as well. She returned to competition four years ago, following a 10-year hiatus from the sport to raise her two daughters.

During her comeback, on through her performance at the Games, Stapleton said she could afford little time off, spending two to six hours a day, five to six days a week practicing or working out.

Her hard work paid off. Within a year of her comeback, which she said was kind of like riding a bike in terms of re-learning technique and such, she made Team USA for the first of three straight times.

On each occasion, she scored among the highest point totals during the 9-day tryout at the outdoor nationals in Colorado Springs, earning her a spot on the national team.

As a member of Team USA, Stapleton earned one of 12 spots — six for men, six for women — to travel with the team and compete in the World Championships, a prelude to the Games.

Last year’s Championships were in Italy, where Stapleton placed among the top 35 racers, solidifying her spot in the Games and her chance at the gold medal.

“When I came back, I knew I was going to retire,” said Stapleton, who also holds three national speed skating records in the 2000m Classic Two Women Relay Inline and the 10000m and 15000m runs. “It was kind of like a good exhale being able to finish my career that way.”

Now that she’s retired, Stapleton said she plans on relaxing and focusing on some of the things she feels she neglected. In addition to speed skating, Stapleton heads Speed Revolution, a non-profit organization seeking to increase the number of female speed skaters by supporting, promoting and sponsoring them in their careers.

She’s also a mother of two, works full time as the kids club director at Trombly Elementary School and attends Baker College full time pursuing a degree in education. “It’s good to actually relax and continue juggling everything else I do,” she said.

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