By Lauren Cabral

The Cove Herald

Women from Central Texas and beyond will be making their way to Copperas Cove this weekend to prove their athleticism in the Tough Cookie Women's Duathlon at 9 a.m. Sunday.

The USAT-sanctioned event is beginner-friendly and consists of a 2-kilometer run followed by a 10-mile bike trek and ending with another 2k run. The course can be done individually or as a two- or three-person relay team, and all participants receive a finisher award, race T-shirt, goody bag, post-race massage and a post-race party.

A Kids Fun Run, a 1-kilometer course for children ages 2-12, is scheduled for 11 a.m.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Multiple Sclerosis National Society Lone Star Chapter.

"Just come out, have a good time, and just get motivated to start training," said Tzatzil Lemair, race director and founder of Tough Cookie Fitness, Inc.

She estimated about 85 percent of participants are beginners, and said representatives from sponsor Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop, co-owned by Lance Armstrong, would be on hand to offer mechanical support with bikes.

Tough Cookie began in Austin in 2002 and has expanded to include chapters in Houston and Dallas, and Tzatzil said a San Antonio chapter is in the works as well.

Tzatzil and eight part-time female coaches, all certified through USA Cycling and USA Triathlons, offer triathlon, cross-training and running training programs, as well as a cycling club.

"Our main thing is we do training programs for women," she said. "Our main mission is to help women lead healthier lives by teaching them how to get started and getting them involved in different multi-sport events."

She said another driving force for her to further Tough Cookie events and training programs was to break a stereotype.

"We also want to break down the images that multi-sport women are hardcore athletes," she said.

She added her 66-year-old mother would be participating in Sunday's duathlon, and if she could do it, anybody could.

"We welcome everyone and try to encourage everyone to participate," she said.

She said the duathlon has been held annually in Copperas Cove since 2004, and the city's hospitality has served Tzatzil and her company well.

"I think the reason we keep coming back year after year is the chamber of commerce has been so incredibly helpful and they have great volunteer support," she said. "They make it really easy for us to organize the event."

Betty Price, chamber vice president and head of tourism and events, said the chamber does all the legwork for the race, from securing the site and a few sponsors, to organizing volunteers.

HEB will provide fruit and Walmart will provide water for race participants. Price and the chamber staff, board members and ambassadors will be on hand to set up and cheer everyone on.

Price said the event is a big tourism draw, since many travel from elsewhere to participate. But, she said, it also exposes runners in the community to new types of competition.

"It's so exciting to see such good participation in this locally and from outside our area also," Price said. "It's great. We encourage everyone to come out and join and cheer the ladies on for this duathlon."

Late registration will take place Saturday at the Best Western Hotel from 5-8 p.m. Cost is $60 for individuals and non-USAT members must also purchase a one-day membership for $10 in order to participate. Pricing for relay teams varies. For more information, go to

Contact Lauren Cabral at or (254) 501-7476.

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