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Faith, family lighten load for triathlete who travels with a lot of gear

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Faith, family lighten load for triathlete who travels with a lot of gear

(CNS) — World-class triathlete Katie Hursey Zaferes travels with a custom
bicycle and enough workout gear to outfit an entire aerobics class.

does she lighten her load?

liberal doses of faith and family.

Zaferes, 27, competes in the women’s triathlon Aug. 20 at the Olympics in Rio
de Janeiro, she’ll represent not just the United States, but a large extended
family in Carroll County, one that includes an absent cousin.

was baptized at St. John Church in Westminster and raised in St. Bartholomew Parish
in Manchester, where her parents, Bill and Mary Lynn Hursey, have been members
since the 1990s.

Hurseys are a remarkable family, I baptized their youngest (Karly) the first
month I arrived in Carroll County,” said Father Michael Roach, pastor of St.
Bartholomew. “They’re a faithful family, always at Sunday Mass. You wish you
had a hundred families like them.”

recalled being an active participant in the youth ministry directed by Linda

youth group picnics and trips were my favorite,” she wrote in an email to the
Catholic Review, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. “It’s a
community full of love and support, that’s the best part about St. Bart’s. I
always look forward to going back home and seeing everyone at Mass.”

have been few opportunities for that since 2007, when she graduated from North
Carroll High School and headed to Syracuse University on a track and field

answered questions from Banyoles, Spain, where she was completing her Olympic
preparation. She and her husband, Tommy, also a pro triathlete, make their home
in Santa Cruz, California, but their careers keep them on the road nine months
a year.

of my favorite rituals,” she wrote, “is when my husband and I pray together
before bed. One of us will start, then the other will fill in anything that the
other one may have missed. Sometimes I learn things about my husband’s day, or
even life, just by listening to him pray.”

intentions continue to include her third cousin, Jacob Offutt.

December 2014, six months after he had graduated from St. John School in
Westminster, Jacob was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. He was a
second-degree black belt in karate, and a “Jake’s Kickin’ It” campaign included
photos of Zaferes in that pose during the first half of 2015, a year in which
she competed in England, New Zealand, Sweden, South Africa and the United Arab

started taking pictures of ourselves and our friends ‘kickin’ it’ around the
world,” Zaferes said. “We wanted to show Jake that there were many of us
fighting with him.”

to withdraw from his freshman year at Winters Mill High School, Jacob died July
13, 2015.

not only a great athlete, she’s a kind and considerate person,” said Joe
Offutt, Jake’s father. “Jake looked up to her. Her accomplishments and travels
were a good distraction for him.”

is a first cousin to Zaferes’ mother, who prays for her daughter’s safety in an
endeavor which, at the Olympics, consists of a 1.5-km. swim, 40-km. bike ride
and 10-km. run.

Lynn Hursey followed online the progress of a 2014 triathlon in Cape Town, South
Africa, where Zaferes lost her computer timing chip and her mother’s mind raced
to the sharks offshore.

had that fear,” Mary Lynn Hursey said. “She lost her chip and her name wasn’t
coming up, and I’m asking, ‘Where is my child?’ … I’m always praying for Katie,
before, during and after a competition. I pray for her safety. The biking is a
scary thing. When you see a DNF (did not finish) … your mind races.”

open-water swimming will be conducted in the notoriously polluted waters of Rio
de Janeiro, where “Team Katie” will include her parents.

was an age-group swimmer and had a 1,600-meter best of 4 minutes, 57 seconds in
high school track, but she didn’t respond to a recruiting pitch from USA
Triathlon until near the end of her collegiate running days.

played a part there, too.

earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education at Syracuse, she baby-sat for
Ashley and Rick Kelley, whose five children include four adopted from Ethiopia.
Zaferes recounted a pivotal Sunday with them and Msgr. J. Robert Yeazel, pastor
of Holy Cross Church in Genesee, New York.

remember one particular Mass, when I was deciding whether or not I was going to
commit to triathlon,” she said. “The entire homily, I felt like the priest was
speaking to me. He was saying that sometimes you need to get out of your comfort
zone and try new things.”

– –

is managing editor of the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the
Archdiocese of Baltimore.


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