2018 Ambassador Team

2019 ambassador Team

The Golden Gate Triathlon Club Ambassador Team is a group of selected club members who have established themselves as role models both inside the club and within the triathlon community.

They have distinguished themselves through leadership, volunteerism, club spirit, successful race results and representation of Golden Gate Triathlon Club on the podium.

As members of the Ambassador Team they act as a resource for club members and support the club’s training programs.

Mission Statement

A member of the Golden Gate Triathlon Club Ambassador Team is someone who embodies the competitive spirit of triathlon, displays leadership, integrity, club spirit, and positively influences athletes for the betterment of the membership, the community and the sport.


Team Expectations

  • Volunteer at events each year. This can be at races or at GGTC sponsored events such as WFTW, Social Events, Bike Clinic, etc. Group efforts are encouraged.
  • Commit to racing in the Team races that GGTC will be focusing on in 2018.
  • Wear provided custom designed ambassador gear at ALL official GGTC functions, races, and on the podium during team races.
  • Participate and lead team/club workouts.
  • Stay competitive. Have fun!

What The Ambassador Team Provides

  • Fun
  • Leadership
  • A presence on the podium both locally and nationally
  • Resource for questions and shared knowledge of the sport and races
  • Opportunity to work closely with club sponsors, with special team discounts, race discounts, gear, etc.

2019 team members

ALEX SIGAL

This will be my FIFTH year as a GGTC ambassador and I am more excited than ever! When I joined this club 9 years ago, I had no idea just how well the friendships and fitness skills I've acquired would serve me.  I gained so much by just being an active member of GGTC. My race calendar is fairly open so I look forward to helping you achieve your fitness goals in what will surely be an accepting and fun 2019 season. Get out there, dive right in, make friends, and soak up all of what GGTC has to offer. If you need help, please reach out to the Ambassador Team!

BRETT MANNING

Growing up I was a stereotypical math geek who’d fane injury to get out of gym class. In 2013, after 5 years of post-grad studies, my sedentary ways had started to take their toll and I realized that I had to make some big changes or risk my mid 20s being my middle age. The only physical activity I’d ever really enjoyed was cycling. So I started to ride to work, adding a little bit of extra distance where I could and slowly over the course of 2 years I managed to drop a third of my body weight.

Being more active felt great and the more I did the more I wanted to do. I’d always been terrified of running so I set my self a challenge of a doing the Edinburgh half marathon. My first ever ‘race’ and in the summer of 2016 I finished this thing I’d once thought impossible. Then, one cold November night, over a couple of drinks some colleagues and I dared each other to sign up for the inaugural Edinburgh 70.3.

Triathlon was a revelation and I haven’t looked back since. I moved from Edinburgh to San Francisco at the end of 2017 and joined GGTC shortly after, since then have done my first Full Ironman and first Olympic tri and if you want to hear about the pros and cons of doing it in that order I suggest we grab a beer after a work out!


DARREN SABO

My triathlon career began in 2008, when I was in the worst shape of my life and needed to reboot my life. I started with a few "mock" indoor triathlons in Brooklyn and Manhattan and then progressed to my first full sprint during my second season. By this point, I had lost about 25 lbs and was starting to see my self-esteem and confidence build not just at the gym, but at work as well. It was an amazing feeling and I was hooked! Over time, I progressed to Olympic distance (NYC, Washington DC, Napa, Wildflower, Pacific Grove, etc), then 70.3 (Palm Springs, Santa Rosa, Wildflower), and in 2018 I finished my first full Ironman 140.6 in Boulder. I've completed dozens of races over the years, and I plan to continue to do so until I'm well into my 90s... or longer!

Having moved to San Francisco from New York (and a few years in Europe) I joined GGTC 3 years ago to find a community of like minded people - and boy did I. My wife and I have made some of our best friends in town through the club (she doesn't race, but is my #1 supporter) and I honestly can't imagine racing anymore without being surrounded by and cheering on my black-and-red-wearing family!


DAVID ALBERT

Peer pressure is real - with no triathlon or swimming experience I was convinced by friends to sign up for the Donner Lake sprint triathlon way back in 2003. Good news is I survived. The bad news is despite completing nearly 50 triathlons (mostly half IM) since, the GGTC HIT Program taught me how much I still have to learn.

I can most often be found playing outside on the road bike, skis or hiking our beautiful trails. I am excited to be part of this amazing community and am looking forward to more adventures with GGTC teammates in 2019.


DIEGO BLANTON

I started running competitively in middle school and worked my way up to the marathon distance in college. After I moved to San Francisco in 2015 I bought a road bike to ride Hawk Hill with my roommate, but swimming kept me from signing up for a triathlon...

After a few years of nagging running injuries, I finally decided to sign up for a triathlon in 2018. My first open water swim was at Training Camp where I panicked and ended up backstroking most of the way... After a few Aquatic Park swims with the club, I finally got comfortable in the water. Although I didn't have my best day at Wildflower, I managed to fall in love with the challenge of racing triathlons and wound up racing three more 70.3s: Hawaii, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz. In particular, I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the club members who participated and cheered at these races.

In 2019 I'm looking forward to improving my swimming and completing my first full Ironman in Arizona!

EMMA WHITFIELD

I jumped into the deep end with endurance sports after playing tennis in college by training for a marathon right after graduation (and making all the rookie mistakes). Running friends introduced me to biking and swimming to keep fit while injured, and triathlon soon followed. I've competed in 4 70.3s, a full Ironman, and way too many sprints w/pool swims (when I was first starting out and afraid of open water). I love long workouts and events like: running my age on my birthday (3x), the Coast Ride from SF to Santa Barbara, and Ironman training.

I joined GGTC when I moved to SF from (pancake flat) Texas and learned what it means to 'climb' on my first GGTC club ride in Marin. I love the mix of friendly competition and supportive encouragement I've found through GGTC. The club has helped me push myself to improve as an athlete and enjoy the process!

IAN CRAWFORD

In business school my favorite pastime was brewing (and consuming) beer, and I spent very little time exercising. A few years ago a friend talked me into signing up for Ironman Canada. Starting in January of that year I had a crash course in all things triathlon. There were plenty of memorable moments in those first few races, including an Escape from Alcatraz swim that was 90% heads-up breaststroke. GGTC was a huge help in preparing me the entire way - and ultimately I crossed the finish line at Ironman Canada with a positive experience.

Since then I've had a lot of fun refining my training approach and becoming more competitive. The bike is my favorite discipline - and I'm always plotting my next long ride in Marin, Sonoma, or Tahoe. Beyond all of this, however, what has really impressed me about the world of triathlon are the mental and physical benefits of keeping an active lifestyle.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been an Ambassador in 2017 and 2018. The club has built a great community around triathlon training and racing and I look forward to helping new members of the sport feel as prepared and confident as I did in that first Ironman.


KEVIN LOWRY

I moved to San Francisco on March 31, 2013. On my way to the airport (DFW), I dropped off my car at CarMax. The next day I went to Mikes Bikes to buy my first bike since I was a kid and that quickly evolved to cycling around our beautiful city, picking back up running, learning (still) how to swim, and signing up with the club. I then went on to do multiple Olympics, 70.3s, and, as of this writing, signing up for my first Full.

The club is full of inspirational stories, told by truly exceptional people with amazing talent. The best part of the club is that some of the fastest people are also some of the most humble, and will go out of their way to help others. Spending time with the friends I have made through the club is the highlight of any week.


LISA NEWTON

Growing up in Perth, Australia, I've always been around water. After swimming competitively for 14+ years I took a little break but couldn't stay away from the pool for too long. I moved to San Francisco in 2011 and although I had a blast learning what flip cup was, it didn't quite have the athletic edge I was after. I wanted to meet people who also loved to work out and that's where I found GGTC. In 2015 I went to what I thought was a very formal happy hour with a sign in sheet, only to find that I had signed away the next ten weekends with the TAG OLY program. I went shopping for my first road bike the following day.

Since then I've fallen in love with the sport, the friends I've made and all the beautiful spots to train in the bay area. In three years I've learnt to clip in and count in miles. I have completed Olympic triathlons and five half Ironmans, and I finished my first full Ironman in 2017. I've signed up for another two Ironmans in 2018 and I can't wait for all the training to begin! When I'm not training I love to bake delicious things and bring them into work at UCSF Health, where I work as a nurse!

MADI KIRCH

In 2013 I signed up for my first triathlon on a whim with minimal experience in any of the three disciplines. I instantly loved the training, the people I met, the gear -- I was hooked! In true overeager fashion, I even signed up for my second tri at the expo before I had even finished my first race. Although cliche, I knew after that first season that I had found a new lifelong obsession. Over the next few years my competitive spirit, some upgrades in gear, and great coaches and training partners allowed me to achieve personal bests and check things off my triathlon bucket list. I look to the challenges of a new year and fine-tuning my Olympic distance racing in 2019 to prepare for ITU Worlds in September!

One of the first things I did to prepare for my move to San Francisco from Washington, D.C. in Fall 2016 was look for a triathlon team -- 15 minutes later, I was a member of GGTC! My newfound teammates and the GGTC buddy program made for a smooth transition to the west coast and a new training/racing environment. I'm excited for another season of accomplishing goals, learning, improving upon ourselves as athletes, and (doing what we do best) having a blast while doing so!


MELISSA DUCHENE

I started doing triathlons about three years ago. At the time, I had absolutely no clue how to swim. I had always been a runner and started cycling once I moved to the bay area. Both came relatively easily to me, but I knew swimming would not. I decided I was going to learn to swim and overcome my fear of the water so I signed up for my first triathlon. I was hooked after that first one.

It's been amazing being part of GGTC and having a community to train and grow with.

MICHAEL PARAVATI

Joining GGTC has been the best decision I’ve made since moving to San Francisco from Singapore 1.5 years ago. I’m learned so much in 2018, and I’m looking forward to my 2nd tri season in 2019 and my first 70.3 (Coeur d’Alene). I’ve cycled for years and fell in love with cycling while living in Colorado in 2011, but what got me into triathlon was a 2017 duathlon in Oakland. Apparently, not many people race in duathlons and I wanted to be in a bigger field of athletes. The only problem? Learning to swim!

It seems like a lifetime ago (Aug. 2017) that I joined the Presidio YMCA and didn’t know that I should swim with goggles. I kept my head above the water and paddled around the pool for 5 minutes before I was winded and gave up. I joined GGTC shortly after that, signed up for our Olympic distance training program and raced the Wildflower Sprint in May 2018 as my first race. Getting onto a few podiums in my first year has been unexpected, but it makes me want to dive into the sport with very focused training in 2019.

FAVORITE RACES: Lake Tahoe Olympic (the climbing!), Santa Cruz Olympic (sea lions!)

KEY LEARNINGS from my first year: Just keep showing up. It’s not possible to set a new swim or bike PR every time out. Just keep training and set weekly goals in Strava.

MILLS FORNI

I signed up for my first triathlon three years ago and immediately fell in love with the sport. In high school I ran cross country and have commuted for years on my bike, but never swam competitively and certainly had not done all three together.

Since joining GGTC, I’ve had an incredible experience in weekly track and swim practice, two OLY programs, HIT program and Wildflower Training Weekend, jumping from my first sprint to a half Ironman, and in 2019 will begin Ironman training for Mont-Tremblant.

When I’m not with GGTC, I’m sailing on San Francisco Bay and am a certified US Sailing Instructor, providing volunteer coaching at Golden Gate Yacht Club.

RAYMOND CHU

Over the past 5+ years, GGTC has offered me a wonderful place to meet, learn, train, and race with people who are kind, inspiring, and passionate. I'd like to use this opportunity to contribute back to the betterment of the membership. In the beginning, I dove in not knowing how to swim. I became a father, took a hiatus, came back and carried on my bike some bricks of nutrition I could not intake at 7000 ft for my first 70.3.

I became a father again, only to return to go further and deeper into the sport. I love triathlon and how it makes me a better husband, father, and person. It's in integral part of my well being. I feel that this is only the beginning of my quest!

RÉMY CHIAPOLINI

I grew up playing soccer like every French kid. I was introduced to road running when I was 16 and ran several distances from cross-country to half-marathons. I completed my first marathon when I was 21.

After moving to the Bay Area in 2015, I started doing trail running again. Mostly half marathons and 30km. I wanted to accomplish more and bring the endurance challenge to the next level. I saw several of my friends doing triathlons and though that it could be a perfect fit for me. I knew how to run and bike pretty well but I could not swim freestyle more than 1 lap without taking a break and I only owned a mountain bike at this time.

After hours spent at the pool, on the bike and in my running shoes I completes Las Vegas Olympic Triathlon. I breast stoked all the way and called for help several times. I raced on a rental bike and finished dehydrated because I knew nothing about nutrition and electrolyte drinks. But I completed the race and got totally hooked up to the sport.

This year I did 7 triathlons (4 Half Ironman & 3 Olympic) with a plan of doing my first full Ironman in 2019. I am able to freestyle all the way and have got my own triathlon bike.

I decided to join a triathlon club after my second race. GGTC stood as the obvious choice as they are the largest and oldest club in the Bay area. GGTC is able to offer me the training routine and coaching I need. GGTC has a great community of members and the social aspect is absolutely fantastic.


ROB LEW

I grew up as a swimmer, however I started racing triathlon my senior year at UC Davis. I fell in love with the sport and loved how I had two new sports I didn't know anything about. After my first race, the Stanford Treeathlon, I was hooked! I've been racing for close to seven years now, and have been very fortunate to race in many different places around the US and the Canada.

When I moved out to SF from the East Bay, I was recommended to check out GGTC. It was one of the best decisions I've made in triathlon and I've been fortunate to meet many amazing people and make some great friends. I look forward to racing with the team in 2019 and making some more new memories!

ROBERT KROSSA

I've been a "competitive" swimmer my whole life, but I was always more focused on the social aspect of the sport than the actual competition. Shortly after moving to the Bay Area, I was inspired by a coworker who had just competed at Kona and I told myself "If runners can swim, swimmers can run." One month later, I completed my first triathlon, the Morro Bay Sprint and I was hooked. Soon I was bike commuting 45 miles to South Bay and running for fun.

For my first year and a half in the sport, I trained solo, and I missed the camaraderie of having a team. I joined GGTC and showed up to Wildflower Training Weekend not knowing a single person. Scared out of my wits, I was blown away by how welcoming everyone was. People stopped to help me change a flat in the pouring rain, I was cheered on as I came in dead last in the beer mile, and I left that weekend with more new friends than I could count. From that weekend on, I knew this club was special.

After a busy race schedule in 2018 that culminated with Ironman Arizona, I'm looking forward to focusing on the 70.3 distance in 2019.


ROSEANNE HERAS

In 2005, I trained for my first marathon. At 40 lbs overweight, I decided to join TNT and go from the couch to 26.2 miles. That's when this endurance junkie was born!

In 2012, I decided to train for my first triathlon. I had no idea how to ride a bike, nor did I own one. Most people learn as a child. (I never did) Furthermore, my idea of "swimming" was nothing more than a doggy paddle. I didn't even know you had to put your head in the water.

I joined GGTC at the end of 2016 and I can honestly say, it's one of the best decisions I've ever made!! Everyone in this club is incredible and extremely supportive!! I'm inspired and encouraged on a regular basis.

STEPHANIE BOX

I’ve been a swimmer and runner since I was a kid and always thought it could be fun to try a triathlon. When a friend gave me their old bike in grad school, I decided it was time! I joined the college tri club and was hooked. After moving to SF I continued to race sprint and Olympic distance triathlons for several years, but work travel eventually got the best of me and I took a break from training.

In 2018 I switched jobs and decided to get back into triathlon. I joined GGTC and found an amazing community of training partners, race buddies, and friends, with the right balance of competition and socializing! I’m looking forward to continuing to race next season - maybe even upping the distance for my first 70.3!

STEPHANIE PETERSON

The Golden Gate Triathlon Club and training programs have helped me achieve more than I could imagine, but the best part is that I found a group of true friends that help you fix a very greasy flat, or run with you in the pouring rain to get that Training Peaks to turn green.

Before joining I was an avid runner with dreams of doing a triathlon, but trained alone and more often than not was injured. My first workout with the Oly group I could only run 25 minutes and was terrified the whole time that I'd be left behind. Since then I've learned the value of showing up and doing the best you can with what you've got - and what happens when you are patient and persistent. I've completed the Oly program 4 super-fun times and will finish my first half-iron this year.

Golden Gate Triathlon Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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