The TRI 4 me team:
TRI4me is a community founded by four women who are passionate about triathlon and who’s lives have been positively influenced by the sport. We wish to share our passion with other women; encouraging and inspiring them to discover the beauty of triathlon.
The focus is on bringing women together who share an interest in triathlon – newcomers or long-time participants alike – to build confidence, develop new skills and learn from a team of female triathlon experts.
Heleen de Hooge: Former Professional Triathlete (2007 – 2014) and Triathlon Coach, Ironman Certified Coach.
Languages: English, German, Dutch
Karine Fragnière: Age-group winner Ironman Switzerland, writer of the book ” Ironmum – a story of love and endurance”, sports and wellbeing coach.
Languages: French, English, German, Swiss German
Stephanie Kaye: Olympic and middle distance triathlete, former USAT All-American and 2021 Women For Tri Associate Ambassador
Languages: English, French
Karin Pethebridge: bachelor degree in sports, kids coach swimming, JS cross-country skiing and JS MTB. Karin is the director of the Verbier Triathlon.
Languages: English, French, German, Dutch
Heleen de Hooge
My motto in life is: “If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you”. This slogan has helped me through a lot of different circumstances in life. Combining a full time job as chemical engineer with training for an Ironman, becoming a professional triathlete, living in 4 different countries within 10 years, to name a few. But it shaped me as a person and I learned a lot from these chapters in life. Nowadays I’m a triathlon and lifestyle coach and hope to be an inspiration to other people. I believe that sport and a healthy lifestyle gives back a lot of happiness. You are never too old to start a new chapter in life or discover something new. We believe that’s all about living your dream! So we hope you are curious and are eager to join us!
How I discovered triathlon:
Born and raised on a farm in The Netherlands, I have always loved the outdoors. From a young age I always rode my bike to school, which is how I developed the basis of my endurance. As a kid I didn’t participate in sports on a competitional level. During my Chemical Engineering studies, I picked up triathlon in 1994 and I’m addicted ever since. My very first triathlon was a sprint distance with a lot of breaststroke (since I still had to learn to swim the crawl).
In 2000 I started working as a chemical engineer and slowly triathlon became more important in life. I discovered the long distance and it turned out that I was better on those distances. In 2006 (still working at that time) I ended as 13th professional in the World Championships on Hawaii. This made me decide to quit my job and started a new life as a professional triathlete at the age of 32. And I have never regretted it. But if you would have told me in 1994 that I would be one day a professional triathlete, I would not have believed you!
In 2014 I retired as a professional triathlete and since I live in Switzerland (2017) I’m addicted to the Xtreme triathlons.
My achievements which mean most to me:
2019 Swissman – 3rd woman overall
2019 Inferno – 5th woman overall
2014 European Championships long distance – 1st overall
2011 Ironman Austria – 4th overall with a personal best of 8:56:12
2010 Ironman Switzerland – 2nd overall
2009 Ironman world championships Kona – 9th overall
2008 Ironman Arizona – 1st overall
2006 Ironman Hawaii – 13th overall
Wellbeing is my passion and sports one of my tools to live in harmony.
This passion has helped me push my own limits and live a dream—to participate in the legendary Hawaii Ironman. Sports have allowed me to find inner peace. I’ve showed my children that they can believe in their dream and go for it. Today, I would like to share my passion for sports and triathlon and become a source of inspiration for all the people around me and inspire women in particular to discover the beauty of triathlon.
How I discovered triathlon:
When I was young, I was quite lazy. I loved horses and wanted to become a vet… My mum was a tennis teacher and insisted that I learn how to play. I devoted myself completely to tennis until I started my professional carrer at Nestlé and realized I needed something more accessible; a sport that didn’t depend on anyone else, and something that I could do anywhere. I got interested in running, and my only goal was to do something good for myself. Running gave me instant gratification; clearing out my lungs with fresh air, running through the woods and the countryside with my footsteps as the only sound.
About 10 years later, my husband and I decided to take up mountain biking so that we could get out and exercise together. Whenever my parents could come keep an eye on the twins while they were napping, my husband and I would escape to the hills around Mont-Pélerin. If we finished a bike ride down by the lake, we’d cool off with a swim. Instinctively, I was mixing up my activities. And—without even realizing it—I was starting to do triathlon training by alternating between swimming, biking, and running. This type of varied training brought my body back to life. I had more energy than ever, and my body craved more and more exercise. I embraced this deep sense of physical wellbeing. One day, I ran into a friend in the middle of a mountain bike ride. “You’re in great shape! You should sign up for a triathlon!” he said. “What’s a triathlon?” I asked. Intrigued, I did some research, and learned that the Lausanne triathlon was in less than a week… That’s how I decided to sign up for my very first Olympic triathlon.
- Ironman Zürich 2018: 1st place age group 50-54
- Ironman world championships Kona 2018: 17th age group 50-54
- Half Ironman Hyères 2013: 1st place age group 45-49
- Half Ironman Locarno 2013: 1st place age group 45-49
- Triathlon olympique de Lausanne 2012: 3rd place age group 45-49
Sport has been an integral part of my life since I was a young child growing up in Canada. I swam competitively, played field hockey and soccer and even joined a cycling club to try my hand at crit racing! I also continue to take up new sports on a regular basis – I now love skate skiing, skinning, trail running and cross-country mountain biking in addition to triathlon. I want my children to know that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. I am also keen to share my passion for sport with other women and encourage them to challenge their limits – age is nothing but a number!
How I discovered triathlon:
I first dipped my toes into the world of triathlon nearly twenty years ago when a friend suggested we sign up for the Brighton Triathlon in the UK. Always up for a challenge, I agreed to take part. The only bicycle I had at the time was a rusty old mountain bike that I commuted to work on but I was excited to have something to train for nonetheless. My swimming was confined to an indoor pool, my biking largely consisted of riding to and from work on a daily basis and I plodded my way around the park from time to time – a natural born runner I am not! Despite having to navigate ocean swells, swallowing many mouthfuls of salty sea water and being passed by many a faster runner, I still loved every minute of that first race. I was hooked. I started dedicating more time to training and planned to sign up for another event the following summer. But a serious skiing accident that winter derailed those hopes and I had a long slow road to recovery. By the time I recovered from my injury, life got in the way of triathlon! I got married and had 3 children. However, when my youngest started nursery, I had a flexible job and the time to start training again. The non-profit I was working for had purchased a number of fundraising slots for the London Triathlon and I decided that was the motivation I needed to return to the sport. I took a slot, started training (and fundraising!) and couldn’t have been any prouder to see my family waiting for me as I crossed the finish line.
Since then, our family has relocated twice – first to America and then to Switzerland – the best part is that I’ve now raced in triathlons all over North America and Europe. I’ve been lucky to race in some of the most iconic parts of the world and have made lifelong friends as a result. These days, I aim to race 3-4 half distance races plus 2-3 olympic distance events per season – usually including an Xterra off-road race. I’m currently training for my first full Ironman in July but unlike Karine and Heleen – I don’t dream of Kona – I just hope to make it across the finish line!
2016 – Brineman Tri – 4th Overall Female
2017 – achieved USAT All American status
2017 – Bear Lake Brawl – Fastest Overall Female
2018 – East Canyon Tri – 4th Overall Female
2018 – HIM St. George – 8th place AG
2019 – Triathlon de Thonon – 2nd Overall Female
Creating projects within communities to bring people together in a fun and healthy way, is my inspiration. I have a bachelor degree in sports and I have been teaching and organising sports related activities for almost 30 years. I absolutely love getting children and adults involved with the outdoors and discover their own body and mind. My sport practice has always been broad from running to hockey, sailing, snowsports, moutainering, swimming, biking, surfing and now the triathlon. What attracts me in triathlon is the multi-sport side to it, 3 life skill activities that are mostly practiced in the outdoors.
In 2015 I set up a swim school and club in Verbier which I now run as a triathlon club and swim school. We are looking to attract more adults to come and train with us and with this project we hope to attract more ladies!
How I discovered triathlon:
I am about to discover it! I did my first short distance triathlon as a student in Eindhoven but my second triathlon was only in 2019 in Lac les Joux! It was a cross triathlon sprint distance. Last year I did my first Olympic distance triathlon on road in Uster and I really enjoyed that distance so this year I have planned to do some road and off-road Olympic distance in Switzerland, Italy and France.
My achievements don’t lay in personal triathlon records I am afraid. I believe I have good coaching qualities. The fact that I am over 50 years of age and feeling fit and happy with my husband and our 3 children, is something I am proud of. To cream it off with a successful agency that we run together that brings us good income so that I can do voluntary work for the triathlon club and triathlon event. Managing the women triathlon days is giving me a lot of pleasure as everyone is giving a great input and we are all very pleased to work together as a team.