A Utah Lake Athlete for all seasons.
Erika Wilde of Springville, Utah is a person who utilizes Utah Lake for her athletic training – in the fall, spring, and summer—but this year, she included winter. She has been looking at the lake for 35 years. “It is a great lake and is under appreciated,” she said. “It is a peaceful place that is easily accessible, relaxing, and pleasant.”
She and three friends have taken advantage of the close resource using it to increase their abilities as they vie for the title. Erika has participated in many triathlons throughout her years. She has used many reservoirs and pools for swimming training, but she prefers the availability and closeness of Utah Lake. She also navigates the many roads around the lake on her bike.
Her group (Ashley Paulsen and Dave Jenkins, Orem, and Matt Barton and Erika Wilde, Springville) are all Ironman triathletes and train all summer in Utah Lake. In October 2011, she and her friends swam about half way across the lake. But some in the group made it only half way when hypothermia set in, and did not reach their goal. Trying it again, in September 2012, they swam the complete East-West distance of lake. “The last week of September was absolutely perfect for water temps. It was a little over 5 miles — my longest swim to date — and incredible.” Believe it or not, as she swims, she never worries about boaters, just driftwood!
After swimming across the lake, she decided she wanted to run it as well. Reading about others taking the challenge of walking/running on the frozen resource, she researched safety and other criteria with Utah Lake Commission, avid Utah Lake enthusiast, Davy Crockett, and angler Pat Scouten (TubeDude). She wanted to cross the lake before March when the ice was cracking and the water breaks through. She has seen the ice floes in January and did not want to encounter them.
They started their run at the same point they began their swim. They went on January 23 when the inversion was thick and heavy. She was nervous to go, but excited for the new challenge. “Once again Utah Lake made me lose sleep, but it was all well worth the missed zzz’s and worries,” she said.
She said, “With the inversion, we hardly had any visibility at all in the middle of the lake which made it feel like running on the moon. Combined with a fine layer of very dry snow all over the ice, mysterious cracks with water lapping in them, some disturbingly slushy spots, and just COLD, COLD temps. Her journey was a “most memorable 12.5 miles.” They started off the pier at Provo Boat harbor and crossed to Pelican Point, and came back.
At times, her group would lose their sense of orientation, time, and direction, but their GPS kept them in a straight line. “It was amazing running in the middle of the Lake. With the inversion of the time (January), you could not see anywhere. It was intense, but not slippery, and it was hard–like running in sand. It feels like running on the moon; it was ethereal,” she stated.
After returning home and thinking on her experience, she said, “It was truly a bizarre “déjà vu” to run up to Pelican Point after swimming up to the same exact point 3.5 months prior. Oh, how Mother Nature creates adventures for me!”
Erika had her “Bucket List” and felt she only had to prove to herself she could do this! She has been biking, running, and swimming for 22 years.
About Erika Wilde:
Erika has won trophies in swimming, taking a first prize in a division at age 40. She also has her spouse Ryan Wilde, their four children’s Rex, 14 years; twins Thomas and Georgia, 8 years, Edie, 5 years, and their extended family’s support. Her friends and their families also support their training efforts.
Her past athletic experiences include finishing an Ironman in November 2012 that included a 2.5 mile ocean swim, 112 miles on the bike, followed by 26 miles of running in 11 hours 51 minutes. She said, “The distance was not hard.” She has also completed the 206 mile LOTOJA bike race, and has qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas.
Photos: Courtesy Erika Wilde.