Tribute to Katie

KATIE HENDERSON – 3 November 1981 – 12 June 2015

Tri2O Triathlon Club is mourning the loss of our dear friend Katie who tragically died in a car accident while travelling up to compete in the Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire earlier this month.

Profoundly moving tributes to Katie have come from every part of her life; Katie the sister, the best friend, the girlfriend, the swimmer, the sponsored triathlete, the para-triathlon guide, the work colleague. There have been some beautiful, heartfelt words from Reading Swimming Club, Reading University, Tri Training Harder, British Triathlon and scores of Katie’s friends on social media.

We knew Katie in Tri2O Triathlon Club as the upbeat club-mate, the caring friend, the brilliant cake baker, the party girl, the comedienne extraordinaire (even sometimes intentionally!), the loyal training partner and so much more.

Katie was one of the first members of Tri2O after the club was founded in 2010 by a group of enthusiastic triathletes who aimed to build a friendly and inclusive club, without cliques, emphasising enjoyment over pure performance. Although she was the 2010 Reading Sports Personality of the Year, this inclusive ethos clearly appealed to her. Her attitude and nature epitomised all that we aspire to in Tri2O.

A regular with the fast (and sometimes feisty) weekend club cycle rides, Katie held her own with the boys without being aggressive or macho, powering up the hills and screaming (literally!) her way down the descents. She was a joy to ride with, always cheerful and grinning, and she took particular pleasure in the post-ride cakes. At Friday morning swim sessions where she became a regular over the last three years, Katie was the one to watch; members beckoned to observe in awe her smooth and graceful stroke, with which she seemed to glide through the water effortlessly – never looking fast until you looked at the clock. And then there were the giggles in the changing room!

Katie’s performances in triathlon races were fantastic from the outset, placing highly in every event she entered, qualifying for world championships, winning medals there too. Alongside this, she continued with her first love, swimming competitively, breaking world records and winning hoards of Masters medals. In terms of victories, world championship placings and world records, Katie was easily the most successful athlete our club has ever had.

However, Katie’s contribution to our club was so much more than the talented athlete, and she was so highly regarded because of her personality, attitude and the infectious positivity she exuded. Katie was humble and modest, yet never insincere or self-deprecating. She was impossibly funny, yet never spoke a sharp word. She was inspiring to so many, yet never elitist. She was positive and encouraging, yet never patronising.

Katie had that rare quality of making you feel like she was truly interested in your goals and achievements, whether it was a Park Run, your first ever triathlon, or if you were going for qualification for Ironman World Championships at Kona. Moreover, she took genuine pleasure in others’ achievements and always asked you how your race went. Triathletes have a reputation as tough, uncompromising, and individualistic; Katie was tough when it mattered, and trained so hard, whilst still being the softest, kindest and most selfless person, and she still won.

Katie had an impact on everyone whose path she crossed and had such a shining future ahead of her. She was universally loved within the club and the wider triathlon community and she is and will continue to be desperately missed. Her sparkling personality and attitude will never be forgotten.

We at Tri2O will do our utmost to ensure that a lasting and permanent legacy to her very special memory remains.

RIP Katie, we miss you so very much.