Neither a global pandemic nor 100-degree temperatures nor being three years shy of embarking on her ninth decade of life could stop Twisp resident Linda Mendro from completing a mini-triathlon on Aug. 17. Linda, who is 77, has participated in the ChelanMan triathlon for the past several years and intended to again this year, but COVID thwarted those plans.
What COVID couldn’t thwart, however, was Linda’s determination to keep contributing financially to Peniel House, the orphanage she and her husband, Wayne, support in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. No ChelanMan? No problem! Linda scheduled her own event: 13 miles of bicycling, 3 miles of running and walking, and ¼-mile of swimming.
For this year’s triathlon, Linda solicited pledges from community members, in support of medical funds and a scholarship pool for post-secondary students at Peniel House. It costs $200 to send a student to secondary school in the Congo, and education is those kids’ only way out of the cycle of poverty that is endemic there. Dozens of Methow Valley residents already sponsor about 80 of the 150 kids at Peniel House; the funds Linda raised for this year’s triathlon will support even more through medical and educational expenses.
Linda began her triathlon at 7 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 17, in hopes of beating the forecast 100-degree heat. She was joined along various legs of her journey by Wayne, their daughter Jennifer Duguay, and friends Diana Hottell and Midge Conner. Despite the heat, Linda finished strong, completing the final element — the swim in Patterson Lake — at 11:30 a.m.
“The first leg was really hot,” Linda says, noting that one of her sponsors even said, “Linda, if you want to sit under a tree and have a cup of ice tea, I’ll still support you.” Wayne was more direct: “I hope you don’t perish.”
Linda didn’t perish. In fact, she says, in some ways her home-based triathlon was easier, since she didn’t have to take the bus to Chelan for it. And her training was, as always, gratifying. “At my age,” Linda says, “it’s important to stay active.” She doesn’t escape attention, though. “It must be triathlon time again,” locals say to Linda as they see her working out on her training course between TwispWorks and the Twisp River Park.
“Thanks so much to all of you for your support, donations, and prayers,” Linda says, sending “love and gratitude” to those who sponsored her triathlon.