Cristine Flink: Stories from the Finish Line Presented by CURAD Performance Series

Christine Flink

I recently received a message that really struck a chord with me. It was from Cristine Flink, a remarkable triathlete with a story that's both heart-wrenching and inspiring. As she shared her journey, I couldn't help but feel honored to be a small part of it.

Cristine's path to the IRONMAN Arizona (IMAZ) was a rollercoaster of emotions and setbacks. Her first attempt was at IRONMAN Florida (IMFL) in 2020, but life threw a curveball with her father's illness and passing. Then, as she prepared for IMFL 2021, her mother, battling Alzheimer's, needed her. Cristine put her training on hold to care for her, only to lose her mother too. Through these times, triathlon became her anchor, helping her navigate the storm of losing her parents.

Her resolve led her to IMFL 2021. It was there I first met Cristine, and she shared how my book had accompanied her on the drive to Florida. Despite battling shin splints, she was set on becoming an Ironman. But fate had other plans – she didn't make the swim cutoff, in part because she stopped to help a fellow athlete in distress. This act of kindness, while costing her the race, forged a lasting friendship and gave her a unique perspective on what it means to be a part of the IRONMAN community.

The following year wasn't any easier. Her father-in-law passed away, adding to the grief her family was enduring. Despite these challenges, Cristine eyed 2023 for her next attempt, this time at IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant (IMMT). But an injury forced her to pause and eventually led her to IMAZ.

I remember calling her on the eve of IMAZ, sensing her determination and spirit. Yet, the race didn't go as planned. She missed a cutoff by a mere 1 minute and 10 seconds, leading to another disheartening DNF. The disappointment was immense, and she even considered quitting and selling her bike.

But then, something shifted. A video message I sent her reminded Cristine of the true essence of her journey. It wasn't just about crossing the finish line; it was about the courage to start and the resilience to keep going despite life's hurdles. This realization rekindled her spirit.

Now, Cristine is eyeing a return to IMAZ in 2024, focusing first on her health and recovery. Her story is a powerful reminder of the strength within us all, the importance of the journey over the destination, and the healing power of sports like triathlon.

As I reflect on Cristine's story this Holiday Season, I'm reminded of the profound impact we can have on each other's lives, often in ways we don't anticipate. To Cristine, Happy Holidays, and Aloha, my friend! I look forward to the day when you run that red carpet and hear those famous words, “Cristine Flink, You are an IRONMAN!”