Kimberly Mufalli is grateful to be entered in the Xterra World Championship Off-Road Triathlon on Sunday for several reasons.
Most importantly for the single mother is the relationship it has helped foster with her five children, most notably her eldest, Tony Crisologo.
"I used to be a really bad alcoholic and when I quit drinking - I used to love sports - so I kind of jumped into running and started running competitively and just got really turned on by it," Mufalli said. "Just kind of the natural progression, I started running longer distances and racing and doing well in my age group here on Maui."
Kimberly Mufalli and her son Tony Crisologo will be competing in the Xterra World Championship Off-Road Triathlon on Sunday at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Mufalli has credited staying in shape with helping her overcome alcoholism and getting her life on track.
The Maui News / ROBERT COLLIAS photo
Crisologo, 25, will join Mufalli, 47, in the field at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua for the event that consists of a 1-mile swim, 18.6-mile mountain bike and 6.2-mile trail run on Sunday at 9 a.m.
"It has just been the most amazing thing - I quit drinking because my kids were running away from me," Mufalli said. "I knew that through sports it would be a way for me to keep my life on track and get my life together and also be a great role model for my kids.
"Over the years they have been so encouraging of my running and my sport and I know it has rubbed off on them. So, yeah, this has been the best thing that has ever happened, to be able to do an event with my kids. It's huge."
Mufalli, who has been sober for 11 years, has her own cleaning business and Crisologo works at King Kamehameha Golf Club.
"Tony is a great kid, we have a great time together," Mufalli said. "We don't get to train together as much as we would like because of our crazy schedules, but I think he was inspired by watching his mom go out and do it."
Crisologo said he has grown closer to his mother through the sport.
"Basically she is just a good, positive influence," he said. "It is a good way to really stay fit, have fun. It's challenging because it's a good sport. I haven't mastered it - you can always get better."
The journey has been an inspiration for Crisologo.
"I always kind of jogged a little bit and then I saw my mom get into it and she started going from jogging a couple miles a day to jogging 10 miles a day, biking to Lahaina every day from Makawao," he said. "She started calling me out on it: 'Hey, don't be a girl, come out, ride with me.' Then we started running and stuff. I'm really competitive, she's really competitive, but she was literally out of my league. She has five kids and stuff, so it really put in perspective that there's really no excuse for people."
About five years ago, Mufalli did her first triathlon, a half-Ironman event, and has volunteered at the last two Xterra World events here.
"I have just been doing cycling and triathlons ever since, mostly here on Maui and the Big Island," Mufalli said. "I have done three marathons since then, too. Now, I'm doing Xterra with about a year and a half of mountain biking under my belt.
"It was always something that I wanted to do, but it just looked so difficult. I had to get more experience. I have really been concentrating on mountain biking for the last year, so this year I'm ready."
The Xterra mountain bike course "is very extremely difficult, especially for me as a beginner," Mufalli said. "A lot of slippery turns, a lot of steep climbing, there's about 3,000 feet of climbing. It's a daunting task."
Mufalli's daughter Jasmine, 24, recently completed her first 10-kilometer event.
"We ran together and it just totally turned her on," Mufalli said. "She found a competitiveness that she didn't know she had."
Mufalli is excited about Sunday's opportunity, but also a bit hesitant.
"For me there's tons of pressure because I have a lot of friends, a lot of help getting to this point with training," she said. "Jamie (Boote) at West Maui Cycles has been so great to me, so helpful and kind. My boyfriend, Scott Campbell, he's my mechanic. He keeps my bike in top shape and he built me a custom bike, I couldn't do what I have been doing without them."
She showed off some recent wounds on her shoulder and back from a fall on the course's mountain bike trail. She hopes to use Xterra as a step along the way to the Ironman World Championship event in Kona when she turns 50.
"I just hit a steep section, I guess I wasn't paying enough attention, kind of came into some rocks, and I just flew up over the handlebars and came down on my head, rolled out," Mufalli said. "So, I'm terrified actually because it is just a really hard course."
Cirsologo smiled and added, "We will be in different waves, but I will probably beat her."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org