BY ANGELINA MARTIN
In what is known to cyclists as the Super Bowl of races, Turlock resident Karin Weller plans to bike 930 miles in the Race Across the West – an astonishing feat that will contribute to an even greater cause.
Come June, Weller will begin the trek from Oceanside, California to Durango, Colorado as she races in RAW, raising funds for Successful Women of the Central Valley. Unlike other well-known road races like the Tour de France, RAW is not a stage race, but a single event race. Once the clock starts in Oceanside, it does not stop until the racer crosses the finish line in Durango. As the second longest endurance cycling race in the United States, RAW is often referred to as “the race of truth,” testing the willpower of its participants. RAW is a shorter version of the Race Across America, which spans the width of the continental U.S.A. Both races have served as high-profile vehicles for racers raising money for charitable causes.
“When you’re doing something this big, it can’t be about you. It has to be about something bigger,” said Weller. “Through my race, I want to empower women.”
A mother to three daughters, Weller selected SWCV as her charity of choice because of the ongoing issues surrounding women’s equality, and the message of empowerment that the organization stands for. SWCV supports women throughout the Central Valley, hosting mixers and events to connect them with like-minded individuals who believe in the unity of women. Weller hopes to raise $20,000 for the organization, through sponsorships of her race and donations.
“When I came upon it, I knew what I wanted to race for,” said Weller. “Their whole concept is women empowering women…it’s nice to meet a bunch of women whose success isn’t just about the workplace, but success in different areas of their lives.”
Weller raced in RAW last year, but as part of a two-person team. She and Modesto native Jim Pyatt came in first place in their age division, with a time of 57 hours and eight minutes, all while raising funds for the Freedom Woman’s Home serving Stanislaus County.
The home offers women who have completed alcohol or drug rehabilitation or are coming out of abuse the chance to regain their footing, helping women as they prepare to transition back into the “real world” by providing counseling, helping them to find work and even providing assistance with opening bank accounts.
The cause was something that resonated with Weller, who has endured and understands the hardships of domestic abuse. As the survivor of an abusive 16-year marriage, Weller has focused on helping other women have the courage and strength to escape the violence and take charge of their lives. Weller hopes that her success in a sport that is typically dominated by men can be a beacon of hope for women who may be victims of domestic violence.
“Anyone who was made to feel like they’re not worthy of anything can see my success and know that they can feel good about themselves,” said Weller. “They can escape that relationship. They can pull themselves out of a bad situation.”
Now, Weller must prepare for the rigors of completing the race alone. During last year’s race, Weller slept for just two hours, and she plans on taking no more than a few one-hour breaks this time around. Through strict nutrition, rides on her indoor cycling trainer and long, outdoor cycling sessions, she hopes to be ready for the race and inspire women with a win.
“I’ve had women contact me to find out how to get into the sport, or to tell me they’re inspired by me,” she said. “That makes you want to keep going out there and inspiring women. You have to have something to keep you going when you’re riding that many miles.”
Those interested in sponsoring Weller in her Race Across the West may email her at [email protected], and she also encourages donations to SWCV through www.swcv.org. RAW will take place on June 13, and Weller’s progress in the race can be tracked at www.raceacrossthewest.org.