Inspiring Fun Fitness

Jan Spalding Race & Train 0 Comments

PHOTO CREDIT: Jason Bryant

RPM’s  Oct.-November Out of the Gate athlete highlights Paula Turk, Ironman and owner of Stone Soup Promotions in Elkhart, IN.

   “Overall, good health is the ultimate currency.” Paula Turk

Lives in—Elkhart, IN

Most competitive sport—Triathlon, has participated in three Ironmans
Must-do supplemental activities—“I am big on swimming because we can do that into our 90s. Even when we can no longer run or ride, we can swim.”

Weekly hours training—“When training for an Ironman, it’s a part-time job! It is truly a time management puzzle on how to fit everything in. You build up to about 20 hours a week of training. Currently, I am out for about eight to 10 hours.”

Farthest traveled for a race/event— “The Paris marathon was the farthest I traveled for a specific event. I do try to do local races whenever I am traveling for work, and if there are none, I seek out a local training group and try to tag along.”

Training Rituals—”Consistency is the key. Anything is better than nothing. Log and rack your progress. If you fall off the wagon, get back on. It’s never too late.“
Race Rituals—”My only tip is to practice with the outfit that you are going to wear on race day. If you are going to swim in it, try that. Earlier on I used to get pretty chaffed up from materials and new outfits that looked good, but weren’t broken in. Have a ritual that you come up with to get yourself in race mode. How you set out your clothes, music, your mantra.

Best-practice pre-race meal—I like toast and cottage cheese or almond butter and honey. Everyone agrees on one thing—don’t try anything new on race day. If you are traveling to another city, bring your go-to food with you.

Favorite post-race chow—A gigantic breakfast and then dessert.

Favorite training music—Electronic dance music or Motown.

Career trade—Special event planning, corporate meetings and conferences. Founder/owner Stone Soup Promotions.
Ten years ago, Paula moved from California to Elkhart to be closer to her parents and her husband’s family. Being brand new to a community didn’t seem to slow her down in the least. While maintaining her California-based events planning business, in her “spare time” she has managed to introduce nine running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events to Elkhart County. Others she directs, others she has passed along, others got replaced.

“(New runners) have enormous pools of energy to unleash, so it is really important to bring new people out and get them involved.  I would encourage all the long-time runners to invite one person this year to a race, run with them and encourage them. Forget about your time and get them across the line.  See what happens.”  Paula Turk

Outreach—Lives it!
“I’d like to work together with other race directors to grow the community of healthy participants, instead of feeling like we are in competition with each
other. The statistics on health issues, stress and obesity show us we have a huge audience to tap. How do we reach these people?”

Outside the Box—Paula’s drive to bring others to the sport.
To Paula, the fact that only six percent of our population runs is surprising, yet encouraging at the same time. “There is an enthusiasm that comes with new
runners and it feeds all of us. When people accomplish something they didn’t think they could do, it just opens a whole new world. We need to tap into that to keep the fire going.”
Once bitten by the running bug, “They have enormous pools of energy to unleash, so it is really important to bring new people out and get them involved. I would encourage all the long time runners to invite one person this year to a race, run with them and encourage them. Forget about your time and get them across the line. See what happens.”

What’ drives the driver?—“Overall, good health is the ultimate currency. “
Paula loves the outdoors, group training and the stress relief and health benefits that exercise provides. “Events are all about deadlines and rank high on the stress scale, so running, in particular, is how I relax and get the cortisol out of my system.”
A self-proclaimed “late bloomer,” Paula didn’t even start running until her late 30s. “The first ‘uniform’ I ever had was a Hood to Coast relay team jacket. I was so proud of it. I think I was 42 years old.”

When she was about 45, Paula was drawn in by the every-day-people stories highlighted on the Kona Ironman broadcast. “A mother of four, a nun in her 60s . . . I thought, ‘This is something I would like to do by the time I am 50. If they can f
ind the time and do it, so can I.’” It is a challenge to sustain the training
discipline without making it a top priority in your life.
What is most important in a race environment?
On this critical topic, Paula speaks more as promoter than competitor. Race environment is the essence of Stone Soup Promotions—Paula’s outlet to create events where people are enticed to join their community for a few hours of healthy fun. “I do want to put on a professional event,” she said. “But also keep it sort of low-key, so it is inviting to all. And frankly, I am mostly on a shoe string budget, so I try to squeeze as much production value out as possible.”

That said, Paula does have a certain knack for finding gems in our landscape in which to host her runs, rides and triathlons. A California girl, she recognizes that it takes a little more effort in the Midwest.

“It’s easy for people to hibernate here in the winter, and then come spring, they have to get the momentum going again.” Stone Soup’s late fall, mid-winter and early spring events are her way of saying “have fun and stay at it.” She encourages participants to use these events to find a core group, which is the best way to stay accountable. “Fall is the perfect time to come up with a winter strategy and new training buddies.”

Among Paula’s great events:

  • Elkhart Turkey Stampede, (now up to 2500 participants)
  • Hilly Half, Terrible 10K & Frightening 5K
  • Ideal Beach, Diamond Lake Niles, Barron Lake, Eagle Lake and Rock the Quarry triathlons
  • Frosty 5K & Mitten Mile run/walk
  • Bloom & Zoom, a summer cycling tour of Elkhart County in bloom,
  • Super Hero 5K for CAPS run/walk
  • Dart for the Arts nRunning for Recovery Michiana
  • Fit for Life Games
  • Get Wet for a Pet
  • 2 Rivers Meet,
  • Spruce Scoot 5K, 10K, half marathon.

Learn more on Paula Turk from The Gateway Mile Elkhart in a recent blog story on For more information on Paula’s upcoming events, visit StoneSoupPromotions. com.

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