SOFLO’s Evelyn Salama Checks Another One Off Bucket List: Kona’s Ironman World Championship

By Sharon Robb

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII—October 15, 2017—Evelyn Herrmann Salama made it to the greatest finish line in the sport of triathlon.

And now she can say there is nothing in the world like it. A day later, she can probably still hear the cheers along the grueling course.

On Saturday, with her family and friends waiting for her at the finish line, the 44-year-old Pembroke Pines wife and mother of two completed the emotionally-charged race in 13 hours, 2 minutes and 51 seconds.

On a brutal day, Salama completed the 140.6-mile journey that is the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit.

She was 79th out of 93 in the women’s 40-44 age group; 439th out of 617 women; and 1,765th out of 2,221 overall finishers.

She completed the 2.4-mile swim in 1:07:44 for 27th in her age group; the 112-mile bike in 6:43:59, 85th in her age group and 4:46:20 in the 26.2-mile run, 72nd in her age group.

Salama qualified for her first Kona appearance at Cabo Ironman 2016 in Cabo San Lucas. After Cabo she ran the Cocoa Beach Marathon and qualified for the 2018 Boston Marathon. Kona was her fourth Ironman distance event.

Other South Florida Ironman finishers were:

Cobi Morales, Miami, 40-44, 10:36:32, 127th out of 252 in age group.

Carolina Ponce, Miami, 45-49, 11:20:26, 27th out of 88 in age group.

Jenny Alcorn, Miami, 55-59, 11:20:38, second out of 53 in age group.

Brian Smith, Jupiter, 55-59, 12:25:57, 73rd out of 134 in age group.

Mandi Nilsen, North Miami, 30-34, 12:28:20, 63rd out of 71 in age group.

Fidel Rotondaro, Miami, 75-79, 14:17:56, first out of six in age group.

Leanda Cave, Miami Beach, pro, DNF

Fan favorite Andy Potts, 41, of Colorado Springs was the first American finisher in 8:14:43. He was seventh among 41 male pros. Potts competed in the second Olympic triathlon at the 2004 Summer Olympics less than a year and a half after starting the sport.

German Patrick Lange, 31, came alive late on the run to win the men’s title in a course record in 8 hours, 1 minute and 40 seconds.

Lange, who was third last year, came off the bike more than nine minutes behind Canadian Lionel Sanders and trailed by more than six minutes midway through the run course. With 5K left, he kicked it into another gear to overtake Sanders.

“It’s everything I ever dreamed of,” Lange said. “Oh my God, I cannot believe it. I always, always, always since I was a child dreamed to have this crown.”

Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf won her third consecutive women’s title in 8:50:47. She took the lead late in the bike leg and was never challenged during the run to win by a nine-minute margin of victory.

“It was the hardest I’ve ever had to fight to win,” Ryf said.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Evelyn Salama Ready To Take On Kona’s Ironman World Championship Saturday

By Sharon Robb

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII—October 13, 2017—“Look out, I’m just getting started. I am more motivated than ever.”

That was Evelyn Herrmann Salama, then 36, eight years ago after competing in the May 20-23 U.S. Masters Short Course Nationals at Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta where she swam five lifetime-best times.

On Saturday, the 44-year-old Pembroke Pines wife and mother of two will compete in the Ironman World Championship, the granddaddy of all triathlons.

Ever since she earned one of the 40 qualifying slots for her first Kona appearance at Cabo Ironman 2016 in Cabo San Lucas, Salama has been focused on “checking another one off my bucket list.”

It will be her fourth Ironman distance event that features a 2.4-mile swim, 112-bike and 26.2-mile run in challenging winds and hot conditions.

“It is overwhelming,” Salama said from Kona. “I am happy I have such an incredible supportive husband and sponsor to let me come out two weeks ahead of time to get acclimated to the time change and weather. I am a bucket of nerves.”

Salama has been able to get in some pre-event swims, bike rides and runs along the course as well as trying out the local cuisine and now is resting and surrounded by her family including husband Jason, son Gustavo and daughter Eliana, and friends leading up to the big day.

“I am overwhelmed by the athletes, everyone looks fitter than the last person you saw,” Salama said. “I have taken a week to marinate in that and convince myself I belong here. I know now I have earned my spot and I am ready to go.”

Eight years ago, SOFLO age group coach Rose Lockie was Salama’s mentor when she decided to compete in masters swimming. Now she is working with her son Travis Lockie in swimming and her coach Dirk Smeets of West Palm Beach. Smeets of the Netherlands has played an integral role in Salama’s progess and success.

Her proudest accomplishment was representing Team USA in 2015 in the ITU World Triathlon Championship in Chicago in her 40-44 age group.

Her progress has been remarkable in eight years.

“I grew up a little bit,” Salama said. “I came to realize despite all of Rose’s efforts and my tenacity and stubbornness I was never going to compete with people who have been swimming all their lives.”

A friend suggested she try triathlons. Her first was a reverse triathlon on a Huffy bike.

“I got out of the water and I thought I got this easy and then everybody passed me on the bike,” Salama said with a laugh. “I crossed the finish line feeling humbled.”

Now Salama is in Kona eyeing that finish line with a different mindset.

“I didn’t know my mindset at first,” Salama said. “When I qualified I was thinking Top 10 in my head but now I have adjusted my goals. A good friend said to me when I qualified for Kona, it was like being the valedictorian of my high school. Now I am in Kona and it’s like Harvard, everyone is a valedictorian. It’s quite a thing to get here and another thing to compete here. It’s really humbling.”

Salama has become an example for those with very little experience or background in sports to start training and competing. When she started masters swimming she had only swam in fifth, sixth and seventh grade. It helped that Academic Village Pool was less than an hour from her house when she decided to train with Rose Lockie for the masters meet.

The rest, as they say, is history. After Kona she wants to spend more time with her family.

“I will hang up my full Ironman shoes, my kids have had it,” Salama said. “I didn’t expect to get this far. But I also don’t want to look back and see that I was a detriment for my children. My family comes first. I told my daughter, who is a soccer phenom, that this is my World Cup, this is what I trained for.

“I am very lucky that I am checking off everything I had as goals. I qualified for 70.3 worlds. I competed in the Olympic distance at worlds. And now I am here at the mecca.

“At this point I just want to do my best and cross that finish line knowing I gave it everything I had. I will be happy with that. I don’t want to put a time out there. This place is so powerful. I just want to do the best of my ability that day.”

For those wanting to follow Salama on the Ironman website tracker, her number is 1618.

Salama will be among 2,400 age group athletes. The largest international athlete field in race history will have 66 countries, regions and territories on six continents represented.

Athletes ranging in age from 18 to 84 earned their championship opportunity by having finished among the best at one of more than 40 qualifiers around the world.


WHEN: Saturday, 6:35 a.m., (HST).

WHERE: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

COURSE: 2.4-mile swim starts at Kailua Pier and finishes at Kamakahonu Bay; 112-mile bike along Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway from Kailua-Kona to the turnaround in Hawi; 26.2-mile run winds through the town before heading out to Ali’i Drive.

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS: Daniela Ryf, Switzerland and Jan Frodeno, Germany.

TOTAL PRIZE MONEY: $650,000 pro purse distributed to the Top 10 men and women finishers.

LIVE COVERAGE: Race coverage can be viewed on For live tracking, real time results and instant notifications, fans can download the Ironman Tracker app on Google Play and the iTunes App Store. In addition, NBC will air an event special on Dec. 9 at 2:30 p.m.

MEN’S TOP PROS: Jan Frodeno, Germany; Sebastian Kienle, Germany; Benjamin Hoffman, U.S.; Patrick Lange, Germany; Timothy O’Donnell, U.S.; Frederik Van Lierde, Belgium; Kyle Buckingham, South Africa; Tim Don, Great Britain; Pete Jacobs, Australia.

WOMEN’S TOP PROS: Daniela Ryf, Switzerland; Sarah Crowley, Australia; Kaisa Sali, Finland; Sarah Piampiano, U.S.; Heather Jackson, U.S.; Michelle Vesterby, Denmark; Susie Cheetham, Great Britain; Anja Bernek, Germany; Michaela Herlbauer, Austria; Linsey Corbin, U.S.; Leanda Cave, Great Britain.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s First Kids Triathlon A Succes In Pembroke Pines


April 20, 2011

For a nice change of pace from early morning workout at the Academic Village Pool in Pembroke Pines, South Florida Aquatic Club held its first Kids Triathlon last weekend as part of the April Pool’s Day.

To the delight of coaches and parents, the event was a smashing success.

SOFLO swimmers are already asking “when are we going to do another one? That was fun.”

Race director and elite cyclist Steve Mlujeak said he was pleasantly surprised at the turnout of 80 youth athletes including his 12-year-old daughter Stephanie.

Mlujeak and SOFLO CEO and Head Coach Chris Anderson created the kids’ triathlon to encourage health, fitness and camaraderie.

The event was designed for any child, ages 10-and-under and 11-and up age groups, regardless of athletic ability or previous triathlon experience.

The fun and safe event, that ended in less than two hours, was held on the Academic Village campus that included a track and pool and observed USAT rules (USA Triathlon, the sport’s governing body). 

Youth triathlons (swim-bike-run event) are becoming more popular because they are easy to stage at any distance and don’t necessarily have to be held at a beach, lake or busy public streets.

“I put a sign-up sheet up and was thinking maybe we would get 20 kids and have one wave,” Mlujeak said. “We ended up having 80 kids. I was amazed and then thought ‘what are we going to do with all these kids?”

“We ended up splitting them into three different waves (11-and-up girls, 11-and-up boys and 10-and-under mixed and it worked out pretty well.”

SOFLO swimmers turned out to be naturals in triathlon and even picked up cycling on the track quickly.

The distances varied for the 10-and-under and 11-and up age groups. The swim was the longest since “they are swimmers,” Mlujeak said.

“We had a couple close calls but that was just lack of biking knowledge, no one got hurt,” Mlujeak said. “They were all fit because of swimming and running. Triathlon is a natural sport for swimmers.” 

The pool was re-configured by SOFLO coaches Megan Garland and Chris Grace to look like an open water swim course with buoys and without lane lines. Mats were set up and there were three synchronized clocks.

“This was the first one and we were first concerned about the safety issues,” Mlujeak said. “The nice thing was we had a safe venue right there. The swim was in the pool, the bike was on the track and the run was on school grounds. It was a good introduction to the sport for them. We had some great positive feedback.

“The kids are always training so hard for some meet, whether it’s JOs or another meet,” Mlujeak said. “Today was a fun day on April Pool’s Day.”

Anderson was pleased with the turnout and said he would like to host at least two a year.

“We want to do it again,” Anderson said. “We are going to have a meeting and see what we can do to enhance it, pick out the positives and negatives. Our kids were pretty good at it.”

Stephanie Mlujeak, who competed on a road bike, enjoyed the change of pace. She finished second in her age group.

“It was a nice change,” Stephanie Mlujeak said. “I thought it was a good idea to do. I liked it. After we finished we all wanted to do another one. I didn’t expect to do well but I was happy with my swimming, biking and running. All my teammates did very well.”

Among other top finishers were Michael Vinci, Gustavo Valery, Nelson Diaz, Jennifer and Jessica Rodriguez, Julia Montgomery and Delanie Perez.

Sharon Robb can be reached at