Setting new goals: Altoona grad Kaup ready for two big triathlons

As a basketball player at Altoona Area High School, Courtney Kaup led the Lady Lions to three straight PIAA state finals appearances – two championships and one second-place finish – and was named the Class AAAA Player-of-the-Year in 1996.

One of the top point guards in Altoona High history, Kaup still ranks second in career assists and is among career leaders in several other categories.

After graduating from AAHS in 1996, Kaup continued her basketball career at George Mason University where she became the Patriots’ all-time leader in assists.

After her basketball-playing days were over, Kaup went looking for another challenge in sports, and she found one. She now competes in triathlons and is scheduled for a couple of big events in the next month.

On Sept. 8, one day after she celebrates her 35th birthday, Kaup will compete in the Las Vegas Ironman 70.3 World Championships. One week later, Kaup will be in London, England for the International Triathlon World Championships.

“It’s all about setting new goals and seeing how far I can go,” Kaup said of the upcoming events.

Kaup earned a degree in biology from George Mason in 2000 and then headed West to the University of Colorado where she earned her Masters and then a doctorate in physical therapy.

“I bounced around for a couple of years, kind of a transition period,” she said, “and then got a job in Vermont.”

Kaup works for Dee Physical Therapy LLC in Burlington, Vt. and lives in Bolton Valley where she skis four days a week in addition to doing 15-18 hours training in biking, swimming and running for triathlons.

“I’m not a professional athlete,” she said, “although I’m ranked in the top 15 in my age group (35 and up) It’s a hobby, a part-time thing.”

It’s not surprising Kaup became a triathlete. She noted she competed in soccer, swimming and basketball until she got to high school and then concentrated on hoops.

Her job as a physical therapist fueled her desire to become a triathlete.

“Most of the people I work with have to overcome obstacles to get to their finish line,” Kaup said, “so what they do and triathlons kind of parallel each other.

“It’s all about pushing your body, both mentally and physically,” she said. “It was a natural transition for me setting goals and seeing if I could achieve them.”

Kaup said Vermont is a great area to train, noting she does her most serious training from April through September.

“It’s 2,000 feet above sea level and is very conducive to training for triathlons,” she said. “When I’m not in training, I still spend a lot of time outdoors.

“I have a very active lifestyle.”

Kaup, obviously, enjoys training and discipline. A couple years ago, she competed in a full distance ironman event an incredible 140.6 miles.

She qualified for the Las Vegas event by winning her age group at the New Orleans Ironman 70.3 last April. She qualified for London by placing in the top 15 at the USAT Nationals last September.

In the 70.3 event, she’ll swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run a half marathon 13 miles. In London, where she’ll compete for Team USA in her age group, she’ll swim one kilometer, bike 40 kilometers and run 10 kilometers.

“It’s a lot shorter and faster,” she said of the London event. “It’s totally different a lot more technical.”

As for the future, Kaup isn’t sure where she’s headed as a triathlete.

“I probably won’t race on the roads next year,” she said. “I’ll probably do the off-road events. It’s a different environment, and more fun. I really enjoy cycling, but running is my weakest link.

“Right now, I just want to get through the next couple of weeks,” Kaup noted. “It’s a lot of mental focus and I just want to finish.”