Sullivan attempts to set state record

Shelby County Arts Council founder and director Terri Sullivan looks to set a state time trial record for travelling across Alabama on Sept. 28. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Shelby County Arts Council founder and director Terri Sullivan looks to set a state time trial record for travelling across Alabama on Sept. 28. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

It’s safe to say Terri Sullivan enjoys a good challenge.

The Shelby County Arts Council founder and director is a fitness enthusiast, having run numerous marathons on top of working out five days a week for the past 30 years, including six-to-seven days a week the last few years.

Never one to rest in previous accomplishments, Sullivan set her sights on tackling an Ironman triathlon this summer. Unfortunately for Sullivan, a stress fracture in her foot halted her training.

Not one to be deterred, Sullivan found a new challenge to tackle.

“I still wanted to do an event that would be a huge challenge,” she said. “So my coach suggested the ride across the state.”

Her coach, Tracy McKay, the men’s state record holder for a cross-state ride, suggested she try to tackle the same feat.

“The event itself, most of us think of the Tour de France where you race certain miles a day,” he said. “This is a 222.3-mile time trial, and she’ll cover it in close to 11-and-a-half hours.”

According to McKay, Sullivan will start at the Mississippi-Alabama state line near Cuba and proceed to ride across the state, arriving in Phenix City at the Georgia line. While Sullivan will be alone on the bike, she won’t be alone on the road. McKay and a crew will provide any assistance she may need during the trip.

With McKay’s help, Sullivan has been consistently building the endurance needed to travel the distance in a time under the current record of 15 hours, 10 minutes, set in 2005.

“My nutrition and hydration on long rides is not adequate to give me the proper fuel for riding hard,” she said. “During the state ride, Tracy and the support crew will be in two vehicles handing me water and food.  Tracy will be monitoring my intake and making sure I get enough fuel to make the distance.”

The training hasn’t come without its price. A wreck while training on July 26 left Sullivan with 21 stitches in her forearm, forcing her to train on a stationary bike at her house.

Even with the setback, McKay was quick to praise Sullivan’s toughness.

“She’s exceptionally strong,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she came close to my record.”

Sullivan acknowledged the danger of the task, but said she looked forward to the challenge.

“ I am very nervous because this is totally new and I don’t know what to expect.  The weather is always a concern,” she said. “The mental challenge is much greater than the physical.  I hate to quit or give up so I push as hard as I can and it usually pays off.”